The International Year of Plant Health 2020 of the United National, declared on the initiative of the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, ended on Thursday 1 July with a closing ceremony organized in Rome via remote connections. Finland played an active role in organizing the events of the year and promoting the objectives.
Despite the delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the events of the International Year of Plant Health 2020 have now come to conclusion. The purpose of the year, declared by the UN and led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and International Plant Protection Convention, was to draw attention to the fact that by protecting plant health we can promote the eradication of hunger and poverty and objectives related to economic growth and environmental protection. The link between plant health and food security was also highlighted in many ways during the year.
Finland had been advocating the idea of an International Year of Plant Health since 2015. The initiative was officially approved by the UN in 2018 and the year started with festive ceremonies at the end of 2019. In October 2020 an International Plant Health Conference was to be held in Helsinki, but due to the pandemic this was postponed to the summer of 2021. In the end, the conference was organized as a webinar via remote connections.
The International Steering Committee that participated in organizing the International Year of Plant Health was chaired by Ralf Lopian, Senior Specialist at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland. The Steering Committee had a key role in implementing the action plan of the year, creating dialogue among stakeholders and mobilizing financial and political supports for the benefit of the year. Lopian was also active in organizing many of the events of the theme year.
These events culminated in the webinars and closing ceremony organized this week. The high-level closing ceremony on Thursday 30 June was also attended by Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä. In his speech he stressed the comprehensive nature of plant health.
“Our aim was to establish an understanding around the world that plant health is as important for the environment and livelihoods as human health is to the wellbeing of people — in other words, we wanted to point out that by protecting plants we are protecting life”, Minister Leppä said. Minister Leppä recalled the strong role the Finnish Government has played in the promotion, organization and implementation of the international year. “I am convinced that in 30 years the International Year of Plant Health will be remembered as a watershed moment for elevating plant health policies to the next level,” he said.
In his own closing words Lopian suggested a World Plant Health Day to be celebrated every year. “The International Year of Plant Health 2020 aptly demonstrated the profound impact plant health has on food security and biodiversity conservation and, consequently, it must be considered an essential and overarching objective in our efforts to achieve the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda”, Lopian said.
For more information:
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland