In December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). The year is a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.
Ordinary citizens should avoid bringing plants and plant products with them when they travel. They should avoid ordering plants and plant products online or through postal services since packages can easily bypass regular phytosanitary controls.
Many countries depend on trading plants and plant products to sustain their economies. Yet trade can quickly spread plant pests and seriously damage native plants and biodiversity. Implementing the IPPC and international standards, as well as enforcing existing phytosanitary legislation, help promote trade while keeping it safe.
Plant pests are one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. Climate change and human actions have altered ecosystems and created new niches where pests can thrive. When combatting pests, farmers should adopt, and policy makers should encourage the use of, environmentally friendly methods that reduce the use of toxic pesticides, which kill pollinators, natural pest enemies and organisms crucial for a healthy environment.
Plants can only thrive in a healthy environment. Policy makers at all levels should therefore enact policies to protect, manage and eventually restore natural resources. Ordinary citizens and citizens' groups can take daily actions to reduce their environmental impact and actively engage in initiatives to protect and manage natural resources.
Governments, policy makers and legislators need to prioritize policies and legislation related to preventing, monitoring and reporting pest outbreaks; promoting environmentally friendly pest management measures; and facilitating safe trade. They should empower national and regional plant protection organizations, and similar institutions, and provide them with adequate human and financial resources. The public and private sector should invest more in plant health initiatives, research and innovative technologies.
Plants make up 80 percent of the food we eat. Yet they are under constant attack from pests which destroy up to 40 percent of food crops every year and are responsible for agricultural trade losses of over USD 220 billion annually.
Plant pests leave millions of people without enough food to eat and negatively affect agriculture - the primary source of income of rural poor communities. Policies and actions to promote plant health are fundamental for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular those aimed at reducing poverty, hunger and threats to the environment.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and their partners are leading the global effort to promote plant health in 2020 and beyond. The IPPC is a global treaty, signed by over 183 countries, that provides a framework for protecting plant resources from pests and diseases. It leads the development of international plant health standards and promotes safe trade among all countries. The FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality nutritious food to lead active, healthy lives.