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The FAO Conference unanimously supports the initiative to proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day

Rome, 5 July 2017 - Today, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Dejan Židan, and a delegation from Slovenia attended the 40th session of the FAO Conference held at the headquarters of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome. The conference, which started on Monday, today discussed Slovenia's initiative to proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day. Delegates from almost 200 countries gave the project their full support. "Beekeeping in Slovenia is not merely an economic activity, it has also become linked to a way of thinking about the environment and other societal issues," stressed Minister Židan in his speech. At the end of the meeting, Minister Židan thanked all of the participants for supporting Slovenia and the project, which unites the whole world.

At the headquarters of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome, the 40th session of the FAO Conference is being held from today until Friday. The Conference is convened every two years and discusses all important agricultural issues, which are dealt with in this two-year period within the framework of FAO technical and management committees and other commissions and organisations relevant for the work of the FAO. At the same time, the ministers' segment is taking place, focusing on climate change issues in relation to agriculture and food security.


Slovenia’s representative is Minister Dejan Židan. In the morning speech dedicated to climate change, he emphasised that the number of hungry people worldwide is once again increasing, since 2015. "Natural disasters due to climate change and wars take their toll. Solutions are sought in new technologies, research, adjustments, etc. While all this is true, it will be insufficient, however, if solidarity between people, states and regions does not increase. Our action, which has strong support, is aimed at increasing concern for bees and other pollinators. Although food production has doubled in the last 50 years, food production depending on pollination has increased fourfold. This is also our contribution to the fight against hunger in the world," concluded Mr Židan.


In the second part of the FAO activities, at the session of the Commission, which discussed Slovenia's initiative to proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day, the Minister addressed the participants. In his address he emphasised that in the last 50 years food production has doubled, while the population continues to increase.  Therefore, the FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva's last message – indicating that the number of hungry people in the world has started to increase and that every ninth inhabitant of the Earth is hungry – is of great significance. Consequently, Minister Židan pointed out that the World Bee Day initiative is a small but important step towards the provision of food and the elimination of hunger. The Minister also noted the fact that Slovenia's initiative had received strong and unanimous support from the FAO Committee on Agriculture and the FAO Council. "Our initiative resulted from the belief that, by working together, we can do more, and I am delighted that concern for honeybees is important for every country." According to the Minister, we all agree that bees and other pollinators are creatures of utmost importance. "The impact on sustainable agricultural production and ensuring food security is of the greatest importance. Their contribution to nature conservation is also invaluable. They are important from the point of view of farmers' incomes, particularly for small food producers, and from many other aspects. Since bees are increasingly under threat, we must join forces to protect them," said Mr Židan. The Minister added that this is an issue of great importance for Slovenia, since we Slovenians are a nation of beekeepers. "Beekeeping is part of our rich history and cultural heritage and the Carniolan honey bee is one of our national symbols, of which we are very proud. Beekeeping in Slovenia is not merely an economic activity, it has also become linked to a way of thinking about the environment and other societal issues." According to the Minister, the joint activities of beekeepers and the Government in recent years have initiated a broad social movement in support of protecting bees and nature, linking producers and consumers at the local level, and using the knowledge, experience and tradition of beekeeping to face contemporary challenges.


Many representatives from several countries and regional groups participated in the discussion at the COAG Committee meeting, and, once the discussion had concluded, Slovenia received the support of all FAO Member States (there are 194 FAO Member States in total). At the end of the meeting, the Chairperson of the COAG Committee thanked Minister Židan and Slovenia for its good presentation and project, which received full support. The 40th session of the FAO Conference is of particular importance for Slovenia. The approval of the initiatives at the level of the FAO Conference represents one of the last (the third) step in the context of formal discussions at the level of the FAO. The discussion will continue in New York, where final confirmation at the UN General Assembly is expected in December this year.


On the margins of the FAO session, Mr Dejan Židan had several bilateral meetings, inter alia, with the Director-General of the FAO, José Graziano da Silva. At a bilateral meeting, he also met with Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, whose responsibilities include issues pertaining to natural resources, food and development.


STATEMENT of Minister Dejan Židan on the path travelled in the period 2014-2017:


Today is a day when everyone in Slovenia can be proud of our Slovenian citizens and all those who have bravely believed since 2014, and continued to work despite many doubts and objections, that Slovenia will for the first time in the history of the United Nations have a day that will be marked all over the world. Without all of these people from the local environment, NGOs, businesses, international institutions, and state authorities, Slovenia and the whole world would not have secured such an important day, a day on which pollinators, which are one of the most important segments in the field of global food security and environmental protection, will be celebrated. This project has raised Slovenia to a higher level in the world. Within Slovenia we have achieved something that we often lack in order to attain the most difficult objectives, i.e. unity, great support, and the participation of everyone, irrespective of any racial, religious, or political affiliation. This is lacking in the world in these times of political instability and economic volatility, and to the benefit of Slovenia, I wish that there would be even more such thinking and positive spirit.


Although in recent years many have mockingly asked me why I have devoted my energy to bees instead of to other "more important" issues, today I can proudly say that my decision was correct. Slovenia is now better known around the world as a country that takes care of animals, a country with a healthy environment and friendly people, a country of progressive views that proposes global solutions to global problems. I notice that this line of thinking and knowledge is being followed by more and more people and countries. I am even more pleased that our children will be recognised as the children of a country which is struggling to eliminate hunger, to achieve food security, and to preserve a healthy environment and healthy living beings. There are no greater fundamental values than respect for living beings, care for the next generations, and the preservation of the planet. I hope that all citizens of the Republic of Slovenia will become aware of the importance of the declaration of World Bee Day and take an active part in this movement. 


At the end of today, which has been full of joyful and positive feelings, the path from the beginning of the World Bee Day project can be described in vivid words, i.e. today we have completed the steep and difficult path to Kredarica, where we have experienced a wonderful welcome and view; but there is a clear and wonderful goal ahead of us: Triglav, which will require the last major efforts and steps, but at the top we all will be victorious and together we will celebrate achieving our goal. Goodbye Rome and thank you for your warm welcome and even warmer farewell – and hello New York!"



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