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How IEEP and the Safeguard research project are supporting the EU pollinators initiative

AUTHOR: Laure-Lou Tremblay

EU funded projects have made a lot of progress in pollinator research in the last 20 years, but major knowledge gaps remain that the Safeguard project is addressing. This project showcases the increased recognition in the scientific community of the need to bridge the science-policy divide, through making research accessible and relevant to policy making.

On 24 January 2023, the Commission adopted its new deal for pollinators, a revision and reboost of the EU Pollinators Initiative. This policy framework provides increased ambitions and pathways for reversing the decline of pollinators and tackling the causes of their decline. It is an initiative ‘owned’ by three directorates across the Commission – environment (DG ENV), agriculture (DG AGRI), and pesticides (DG SANTE).

In his announcement of the communication, Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius, set the tone of the new initiative: “Small things can drive big changes in our world. In the case of pollinators, these small insects will define the future of nature and long-term food security. We need immediate, targeted actions to save pollinators because they are invaluable for our ecosystems, societies, and economies”. EU agriculture ministers have welcomed the initiative; in the March Agriculture Council meeting they expressed widespread support, with Spain, Germany, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands saying they were “fully committed” to implementing it1.

The initiative sets three headline priorities or pillars: improving knowledge of pollinator decline, its causes and consequences; improving pollinator conservation and tackling the causes of their decline; and mobilising society and promoting strategic planning and cooperation at all levels. These priorities are delivered in 42 actions to be achieved by 2030.

Safeguard is an EU Horizon project contributing to reversing the loss of wild pollinators across Europe through research on its direct and indirect drivers, impacts, and effective responses. The project is made of a consortium of leading institutions and experts on pollinators and pollination ecology. Safeguard closely integrates research on the ecological, economic, social and policy dimensions of pollinator conservation and the ecosystem services they help provide. Safeguard is not only increasing knowledge on pollinators, but also bridging the science-policy divide.

IEEP is leading Safeguard’s policy engagement activities in the EU, together with IUCN, ELO and other partners. Based on the scientific evidence, IEEP is developing tools for policy makers to assess the effectiveness of current policies and is identifying conditions for future policies to be effective, through engaging policy makers and stakeholders at several levels.

In our brief we describe how the research topics that Safeguard is investigating are directly relevant to delivering on the EU Pollinators Initiative. This research is providing key evidence to help make EU policies and funding work better for pollinators – notably the Common Agricultural Policy with the national strategic plans, the proposed EU Nature Restoration Law, and the proposed EU sustainable food systems framework, but also urban greening in our cities.

You can find all Safeguard news and publications on Safeguard’s news page. Safeguard also publishes a monthly newsletter and has active Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Image by Emiel Molenaar on Unsplash


1. AGRAFACTS No.23 (20 March 2023)

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How IEEP and the Safeguard research project are supporting the EU pollinators initiative (IEEP 2023)

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