2020 – International Year of Plant Health: IPPC and UNICC Make Trading Safer without Setting Up Unnecessary Barriers

20 February, 2020

Photo: Unsplash/Frikri Rasyid

Plants make up to 80 percent of the food we eat, produce 98 percent of the oxygen we breathe and contribute to achieving several United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that up to 40 percent of food crops are lost annually to plant pests and diseases, which costs the global economy around US$220 billion. To raise awareness on plant health and emphasise the importance of protection and prevention, the United Nations General assembly declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH).

Plant trade can quickly spread pests and seriously damage native plants and local biodiversity, especially now that climate change and human activities have increased threats and created new niches where pests can thrive. Still, many countries depend on trading plants and plant products to sustain their economies – and global agricultural trade has tripled in volume over the last decade.

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and UNICC have developed and now operate the innovative ePhyto Solution, with a centralised hub to facilitate the exchange of electronic phyto-sanitary certificates and to ensure safe standards in the arrival and clearance of plants across national boundaries.

UNICC and IPPC have been collaborating for several years on the global ePhyto web hub, an innovative project to digitalise and facilitate safe trade of plants and plant products. The system, that has received a trade facilitation innovation award, is now rolling out to countries worldwide.

Protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than dealing with full-blown health emergencies that leave people without enough food to eat and seriously damage agriculture, the primary source of income for rural communities. According to FAO, plant health contributes to:

  • Ending hunger
  • Reducing poverty
  • Protecting biodiversity and the environment
  • Boosting economic development

For more information about the IPPC ePhyto Hub read International Plant Protection ePhyto Hub at ITU’s WSIS Forum in Geneva.

To learn about the International Year of Plant Health and how you can contribute to protecting plants visit the International Year of Plant Health’s official website

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