World’s first International Plant Health Conference on biosecurity meets in London this week

International leaders and experts will discuss how to tackle key challenges facing plant health, as pests and diseases pose mounting threat to food security, trade and biodiversity
Wheat field in Didley, UK.jpg

This week, delegates from over 74 countries will discuss global strategies and actions to protect plant life, the natural environment and the global economy. The world’s first ever International Plant Health Conference (IPHC), co-organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and Defra are meeting in London.

The aim is to to address current and future plant health challenges, including the impacts of climate change, food security, environmental protection, facilitating safe trade, and new pest and disease pathways, such as e-commerce. Held on 21-23 September, delegates will share knowledge and discuss global scientific, technical and regulatory issues, alongside actions to tackle these existential threats to our society, economy and environment.

The United Nations estimates that each year up to 40 percent of global crop production is lost to plant diseases, costing the agricultural trade over USD 220 billion, whilst invasive insects cause losses of at least USD 70 billion. The risks to food security, international trade, biodiversity and the natural environment as a result of current and future outbreaks need to be addressed urgently for farmers in the UK and across the world.

Strengthening global standards of biosecurity, applying international plant health standards, as well as fostering greater international collaboration and raising public awareness and engagement with these challenges will be paramount to safeguard the global economy and environment for generations to come.

It is encouraging to see that the international community is taking action on mitigating damage to crops at a time when global and domestic food security is at a time of crisis

Mark Tufnell, CLA President

Commenting on the inaugural conference being held this week, CLA President, Mark Tufnell, said: “It is encouraging to see that the international community is taking action on mitigating damage to crops at a time when global and domestic food security is at a time of crisis. Protecting plant health is vital when facing current and future challenges. Healthy plants and crops contribute to achieving greater food security and fosters responsible food consumption and production.

Mark concluded by noting: “Protecting plants helps protect biodiversity and the environment from the impact of pests, climate change, facilitates safe trade, and strengthens the rural economy by providing jobs and boosting growth in the countryside”

The aims of the International Plant Health Conference are the following. The CLA will be very interested in learning the results of the conference and what potential future policies as a result could mean for our members:

  1. Increase awareness among the public and policymakers of the importance of keeping plants healthy to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda, and particularly SDG 2 (Zero Hunger). 
  2. Raise public awareness of how to minimise the risk of spreading plant pests through trade and travel by triggering compliance with international plant health standards.
  3. Promote the importance of monitoring and early warning systems to protect plants and plant health.
  4. Raise global awareness of how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and boost economic development.
  5. Raise global awareness of the importance of keeping plants healthy while protecting the environment through sustainable pest and pesticide management.
  6. Highlight the need for investment in plant health innovations, research, capacity development and outreach.

Read more about the International Plant Health Conference here.