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UN Proclaims 2020 the International Year of Plant Health
New York Ag Connection - 12/21/2018

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Plant Protection Convention Secretariat, based at FAO, welcomed the UN General Assembly's adoption Thursday of a resolution proclaiming 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). The year is expected to increase awareness among the public and policy makers of the importance of healthy plants and the necessity to protect them in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Today, up to 40 percent of global food crops are lost annually?due to plant pests. In terms of economic value, plant diseases alone cost the global economy around US$220 billion annually and invasive insects around US$70 billion. "The International Year of Plant Health is a key initiative to highlight the importance of plant health to enhance food security, protect the environment and biodiversity, and boost economic development," IPPC Secretary Jingyuan Xia said.

"Despite the increasing impact of plant pests, resources are scarce to address the problem. We hope this new International Year of Plant Health will trigger?greater?global collaboration to support plant health policies at all levels, which will contribute significantly to the Sustainable Development Agenda," he added.

Finland first proposed the year to the governing body of the International Plant Protection Convention in 2015. In July 2017, the FAO Conference adopted a resolution in support of the proposal. "Pests and diseases don't carry passports or observe immigration requirements and, therefore, the prevention of the spread of such organisms is very much an international undertaking that requires the collaboration of all countries. This is why Finland proposed to proclaim 2020 the International Year of Plant Health," said Jari Leppä, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue commended the designation. The United States, along with 90 other countries, co-sponsored this resolution to raise awareness of plant health issues and strengthen global efforts in the face of increased trade and climate change.

Perdue said, "I have seen firsthand the damage that invasive pests can do to American agriculture, and I applaud this initiative to declare 2020 the International Year of Plant Health. By focusing on this issue for an entire year we will raise global awareness and encourage collaboration across all sectors of society, from farmers to consumers, industry to government officials, academia and beyond. Healthier, pest-free plants bring higher yields, stronger ecosystems, richer biodiversity, safer trade, and ultimately food security and economic development opportunities for all. None of us can win this fight alone, but as a global community focused on this issue, we can all work together to protect our natural and agricultural resources against devastating plant pests and diseases."

"This is part of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) core mission, and APHIS is planning a range of activities for the International Year of Plant Health. I look forward to working with our partners and colleagues across the country and around the world on this important initiative. Our farmers are among the most productive in the world, and protecting plant health will help them continue to feed, fuel, and clothe people in the United States and beyond," Perdue added.

The UN General Assembly invited FAO, with the IPPC Secretariat, to serve as the lead agency to spearhead activities, and called on governments, civil society, and the private sector to engage at global, regional and national levels. An International Plant Health Conference will be among thousands of plant health events to be held globally throughout 2020.

Healthy plants are the foundation for all life, ecosystem functions and food security. Plant pests and diseases damage crops, reducing the availability of food and increasing its cost. Sustaining plant health protects the environment, forests and biodiversity from plant pests, addresses the effects of climate change, and supports efforts to end hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

The IPPC is an international treaty that entered into force in 1952 and provides a framework to protect the world's plant resources from the harm caused by pests. It is currently composed of 183 contracting parties.

The International Year of Plant Health will be marked in 2020 and is expected to increase awareness about the importance of healthy plants in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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