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World Bee Day in Geneva: celebrating the developmental role of beekeeping with "Honey for Empowerment" initiative

In the week ahead of the World Bee Day (20 May), the International Geneva celebrates this day aiming to boost collective pollinator protection through awareness raising and educational activities. This is the sixth celebration in Geneva after the day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 2017 at Slovenia’s initiative with support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

World Bee Day celebrations in Geneva attracted diverse audience

Representatives of different organizations highlight the role of bees and other pollinators in the introductionary remarsk.

Introduction to the World Bee Day event | Author Permanent Mission of Slovenia in Geneva

During the event “Honey for Empowerment” at the Palais des Nations, the international audience in Geneva explored how beekeeping can be used as an important tool for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls in their communities. Three educational and developmental projects were presented: »Beekeeping courses for working, street and refugee children of Iran«, a project of the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Tehran; »Empowering Beekeeping to increase quality and quantity of honey products in Rwanda«, a project of FAO and the Beekeeping, Traders and Service Providers Cluster in Rwanda; and »Beekeeping in School Children Project«, a project by the Association Printemps d'Abeilles in Geneva.

Bees and other pollinators significantly contribute to environmental protection by providing pollination services and contributing to biodiversity conservation. Women and youth engaged in beekeeping activities can become environmental stewards and fully, equally and meaningfully participate in the climate action. At the celebration of the World Bee Day at the Palais des Nations today, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), Tatiana Valovaya, emphasized that “beekeeping activities lead to higher awareness about the role of the bees and other pollinators, as well as about the challenges they are facing, including climate change-induced extreme droughts, heat and other weather conditions”.

The participants learnt how beekeeping provides women and youth with an opportunity for economic empowerment, as they engage in income-generating activities. It allows them to earn a livelihood and contribute to their family's economic well-being. “The pollinators have a multi-faceted impact and bring environmental, social, economic and developmental opportunities from which the communities around the world can gain. Slovenia co-created more than 300 pollinator projects with partners on all continents. Pollinators have made their way in many more school curricula, policy debates, research agendas, business plans and agricultural practices,” explained Ambassador Anita Pipan, Permanent Representative of Slovenia.

Beekeeping provides opportunities for women and girls to socialize and network with other beekeepers. Networking leads to mutual support and access to training and resources. The Permanent Representative of Switzerland, Ambassador Jürg Lauber, emphasized: “The  role of Geneva is to enhance global cooperation, including in the field of environmental protection and biodiversity, through diplomacy, dialogue, but also education and development.”

Improving and modernizing beekeeping skills for women and girls can empower them through enhanced productivity, sustainability, and ultimately better livelihoods. Dominique Burgeon, Director of the Liaison Office in Geneva for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), highlighted the importance of adopting pollinator-friendly agricultural production practices to protect bees and other pollinators, while contributing to the resilience, sustainability and efficiency of agrifood systems. He further added “Through its One Country One Priority Product Initiative (OCOP), FAO is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda to help add value to bee products and improve quality standards, making them more competitive in both local and international markets.”

Members of the international community and the students who joined with the Foundation EDUKI concluded the World Bee Day with honey-tasting where the honey produced by mine and UXO survivors from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Organization of Amputees UDAS in partnership with ITF, Beekeeping Academy of Slovenia and Slovenia’s Development Aid) was presented.

About the World Bee Day in Geneva

The celebration of the World Bee Day 2023: "Honey for Empowerment" was organized jointly by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Slovenia to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva, the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN and other international organizations in Geneva, the FAO Liaison Office with the UN in Geneva, and the United Nations Office at Geneva.