2019 visual booklet on pollinators and pesticides: Keeping our bees safe

20 May 2019

Report - Pollinators and Pesticides


According to the Global Chemicals Outlook II , While agrochemicals have helped to significantly increase food production, the use of pesticides and fertilizers has nevertheless caused widespread adverse impacts on soils, ecosystems and human health (Carvalho 2017). Exposure to some pesticides has adverse effects on humans, including reproductive disorders and cancers as well as acute poisonings, and pose threats to biodiversity (Kim, Ko and Lee2013; Hallmann et al. 2017; Rim 2017). The continuous application of pesticides can deplete insect and microorganism populations, generating pesticide-resistant pests and adversely affecting predator-prey relationships. Neonicotinoids, which are among the world’s most widely used insecticides, can affect the sperm count of male honey bees and reduce the number of queen bees; they may also play a role in recent declines in bumblebee colonies. Adverse effects on pollinators, in turn, have direct effects on agricultural yields and food supplies (Moffat et al. 2015; Straub et al. 2016).

In 2016, IPBES Secretariat launched the assessment report on pollinators, pollination and food production in partnership with the UN Environment Programme,  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural organization. The assessment inspired the formation of a “Coalition of the Willing” by a growing number of governments around the world to action nationally to protect pollinators and to promote pollination.

In light of World Bee Day on 20 May 2019, the UN Environment Chemicals and Health Branch has summarised key facts from the assessment report on the effect of pesticides on pollinators – predominantly on bees. The visual booklet summary was created in partnership with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).