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Director-General's remarks at World Bee Day 2024

Tatiana Valovaya

World Bee Day 2024: “Bee Engaged with Youth”

Monday, 21 May 2024 at 10.00 a.m.

Building H (Atrium), Palais des Nations



Ladies and gentlemen, 

Dear friends, 

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the celebration of World Bee Day 2024 here at the Palais des Nations. 

I would like to sincerely thank the Permanent Missions of the Republic of Slovenia and of Switzerland, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and my colleagues at the United Nations Office at Geneva for organizing this event. 

Today, we pay tribute to a pioneer of modern apiculture from Slovenia, Mr. Anton Janša, whose groundbreaking contributions to beekeeping in the 18th century continue to resonate. 20 May, the day Mr. Janša was born, was designated World Bee Day by the UN General Assembly in 2017, and it serves as a global platform to underscore the vital role of bees and other pollinators in our ecosystem.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate the International Day for Biodiversity here at the Palais des Nations to promote and preserve biological diversity. It is sobering that eight bee species are currently endangered. The loss of biodiversity threatens both present and future generations. 

Our current prosperity is closely tied to resources provided by biological diversity. Without a diverse array of animals, plants, and microorganisms, essential aspects of our lives, from the food we eat to the air we breathe, would be profoundly affected. It is crucial to support the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework as well as other international tools to safeguard and restore our ecosystem’s diversity.

These small yet powerful creatures are essential to our food security, biodiversity, and overall ecological health. Bees play a critical role as pollinators, contributing to the functionality of our ecosystems. Their role as pollinators is indispensable, such as facilitating the reproduction of numerous crops pivotal to human sustenance, including apples, coffee, cocoa, almonds, and more.

The UN is steadfast in its commitment to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Beekeeping contributes directly to SDG 2 on zero hunger and food security and SDG 15 on biodiversity and ecosystems, but bees contribute to many more development targets, underpinning our collective endeavor towards the 2030 Agenda. Pollinating insects, including bees, contribute to improving food production for 2 billion small farmers, ensuring global food security. Around 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollination for reproduction.

At the Palais des Nations also, bees play an important role as they are an integral part of the ecosystem in the Ariana Park. Our beehives, inhabited by Carniolan bees – a breed originating from Slovenia – were generously gifted to us by Switzerland in 2012 to mark the tenth anniversary of its accession to the United Nations. I have a very personal tradition of presenting honey from these hives as a welcome gift to new Permanent Representatives and other esteemed guests. This gesture not only allows them to savor the delicious honey but also underscores the importance of bees in safeguarding our planet.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This year’s theme, “Bee Engaged with Youth”, holds profound relevance within the United Nations youth agenda. As custodians of tomorrow, young people will inherit the consequences of our actions today. With the global youth population projected to surge by 7 percent by 2030, their involvement is essential in propelling positive change.

The United Nations acknowledges the pivotal role of youth in shaping a sustainable future. The forthcoming Summit of the Future underscores this commitment, emphasizing the integration of youth voices and perspectives into decision-making processes. Through the adoption of the Declaration on Future Generations, we will reaffirm our resolve to leave a better world for generations to come. 

By imparting knowledge about beekeeping to young people today, we foster environmental awareness and nurture a culture of sustainable development. Our gathering today offers a unique opportunity for dialogue, collaboration, and knowledge exchange, allowing us to gain invaluable insights into the transformative potential of beekeeping initiatives.

As we celebrate World Bee Day, let us reaffirm our collective commitment to safeguarding these invaluable species and preserving the integrity of our ecosystems.

I wish you all a Happy World Bee Day. 

Thank you. 


This speech is part of a curated selection from various official events and is posted as prepared.