International Plant Health Conference in Helsinki is cancelled amid continued COVID-19 restrictions

Posted on Tue, 09 Feb 2021, 14:45

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Rome/Helsinki, 9 February 2021. On 2 February, representatives of member countries of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), contracting parties to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), representatives of plant health stakeholder groups and FAO officials met to discuss the action plan for the remainder of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH).

The IYPH International Steering Committee discussed the way forward for the United Nations occurrence until its closing ceremony, planned on 1 July 2021 given the extension agreed by FAO to continue gaining momentum for plant health despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the key decisions of the committee is the cancellation of the International Plant Health Conference, previously scheduled in Helsinki from 28 June to 1 July 2021. The decision was made in agreement with Finland as the host country due to persistent travel restrictions, new COVID-19 variants and delayed vaccination plans.

Mr Ralf Lopian, Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland and Chairperson of the IYPH International Steering Committee, reported: “It is unfortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic would not allow us to convene face-to-face and benefit from in-person interactions. However, while the International Plant Health Conference in Helsinki is cancelled, we recommend the first International Plant Health Conference to take place in the week of 12 May 2022, which we hope would also mark the first International Day of Plant Health. I call on countries to consider hosting the conference under the coordination of the IPPC Secretariat and FAO”.

To pave the way towards the conference, the IYPH International Steering Committee decided to organize a series of thematic webinars. The virtual launch of the study report on the impacts of climate change on plant health on 1 June will kick-start the series. The launch will be followed by webinars on 29 and 30 June focusing on food systems and climate change. Two additional webinars will be organized in October and December 2021, with the latter focusing on synergies between plant health and fruit and vegetables, at the occasion of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021.

In 2018 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2020 the International Year of Plant Health to raise global awareness of how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.

More on the International Year of Plant Health:www.fao.org/iyph

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