A European Citizen’s Initiative has collected a million signatures, triggering the European Commission to take further action toward saving bee and butterfly populations, which are crucial for food security and environmental health.
Everyone knows that bees and their pollinating kin: butterflies, moths, bats and hoverflies, are the Earth’s great pollinators. They visit flowers and drink the nectar or feed off pollen and transport pollen grains as they move from spot to spot, helping plants reproduce. This vital act means that, in real life terms, they are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat.
In recent decades, however, wild-insect pollinators have been dramatically dropping in number and diversity in Europe. An estimated one in 10 species are threatened or on the verge of extinction, and one in three is in decline.
CITIZENS SPEAK AND EC REACTS
In response, a European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) plan, called ‘Save the Bees and Farmers! Towards a bee-friendly agriculture and a healthy environment’, has been developed and the buzz it created has spurred the European Commission (EC) to react.
With half the EU’s agricultural land already at risk of having pollen deficits, the call to arms couldn’t have come at a better time, and the show of public support has prompted the EC “to find swift and ambitious agreements on the already submitted legislative proposals, that will help protect and restore European pollinators and translate the citizens’ ambition into law,” according to a statement by the EC.
ALREADY IN THE WORKS
A few plans are already underway, such as one that will reduce chemical pesticide use in the EU by half by 2030 as well as targeted habitat and restoration projects to make the EU pollinator-friendly by 2050.
The ECI is also calling for improved biodiversity in agriculture as well as giving farmers the support they need to transition to sustainable farming.
Rather than bogging down the process by proposing new laws, the EC is working with the groups of co-legislators to swiftly adopt and implement plans, such as those mentioned above, to start rectifying the situation.
To clarify, an ECI allows a petition from at least a million citizens from no less than seven bloc countries to ask the EC to propose legal action. It allows for more grassroots participation by the people, giving them a say in EU policies. Save the Bees and Farmers! Is the seventh ECI the Commission has responded to.
Photo by Kai Wenzel, Unsplash