Plants account for over 80% of the human diet and are indispensable for food security. Healthy plants are also vital to sustainable and profitable crop production and to the quality supply of food, fuel, and fiber. Plant pests and diseases pose a threat to food security because they can damage crops, thus reducing the availability and access to food, increasing the cost of food.
Nowadays, due to increasing global trade and a changing climate, plant pests and diseases pose a greater threat to food security than ever before. In fact, global trade increases the chance of these pests moving from their native environments to new areas, while changing climates create new favorable conditions for plant pests and diseases. Plant pests and diseases are responsible for losses of 20 to 40% of global food production.
Despite the aforementioned great importance of plant health, governments and society do not give it the deserved attention, support and prominence in their national strategies as crucial contributor to food security, safety and ecosystems. To raise global awareness about plant health and mobilize support to the plant health sector, the IPPC with its contracting parties led by Finland is working towards proclaiming the year 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH 2020).
The promotion and proclamation process has been progressing since the emergence of the initiative at the 10th Session of the Commission for Phytosanitary Measures (CPM-10) in 2014.
Later this year, the United Nations General Assembly will vote on a resolution to proclaim 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). This is a unique opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development, as well as to highlight the importance of international, regional, and national plant health organizations.
To support the proclamation of an International Year of Plant Health, the IPPC Secretariat and the IPPC IYPH Steering Committee developed a series of advocacy materials, which can be downloaded from the Resources section of the IYPH web page: https://www.ippc.int/en/iyph/
In the words of Jingyuan Xia, IPPC Secretary: “IPPC contracting parties are requested to ensure that the message of the importance of an IYPH is conveyed to their respective decision makers in view of the upcoming UN General Assembly session at FAO HQs in New York”.
Through an IYPH, the global phytosanitary community is expected to work together in protecting the world’s plants against the spread of devastating pests; encourage scientific innovation to address pest threats; promote responsible practices that reduce pest spread; and increase public and private sector support for more sustainable plant health strategies and services.