swarm of origami bees at COP28 Terra pavilion in the Green zone

Image credit Deepa Senapathi: swarm of origami bees

Written by PhD student Emmeline Smith from SCENARIO DTP


The launch day of COP28 saw the announcement of a new coalition called One Trillion Bees bringing together scientific expertise, businesses and organisations to save the pollinators.

Normally new nature campaigns are started by environmental groups such as WWF, Wildlife Trust or RSPB. However, this time PANGAIA, the sustainable clothing company, has thrown their hat into the ring with the development of the One Trillion Bees in partnership with Bee the Change. Other businesses have joined the coalition, for example, Expo City and Dubai Airport.

On ‘Nature, Oceans and Land Use’ day, pollinators have been given their time in the spot light with the Bee the Change green zone event. Pollinators have been facing many challenges over the years including destruction of habitat, intensification of farming and increasing concentrations of pollutants leading to their decline.

I was lucky enough to meet with a leading specialist on pollinator researcher Dr Deepa Senapathi from the University of Reading, who shared with me the main goals of the session.

Dr Senapathi explained that the campaign aims to restore one trillion bees by engaging two billion people in nature positive actions and raising $1 billion for pollinator restoration by 2030.

This is the biggest target fund that has been set for global pollinators, and Dr Senapathi shared that:

Crop pollination is worth around a quarter of a trillion dollars per year worldwide, this does not include wild plant pollination or their cultural value

When asked about how the funding could be used for bee conservation, she explained that as this is a global campaign there is not a one size fits all situation. For example, bee conservation in the northern hemisphere may focus more on rewilding and working with large scale farmers, whereas in the southern hemisphere it is more important to ensure that small scale farmers’ livelihoods are protected.

She went on to explain that getting the right partnerships is critical for pollinator conservation. A part of this is understanding what motivates individuals, organisations, business and industry to get involved as pollinator conservation will require everyone’s input.

The event explained that there is a big rift between people and the natural world, and a part of this campaign is to bring the two together. They intend to do this through innovative ideas such as asking businesses to stock products that support bees or provide space for nature. This has already been seen locally in communities like the addition of flowerbeds to the top of bus stops, providing an urban food source for bees.

The session focused on bees but it is important to remember that pollinators come in all shapes and sizes, for example certain species of moth, bat, bird and gecko are also pollinators. This project is using bees as an easily relatable umbrella species, but improving natural conditions for bees will also improve and support other pollinators as well.

Overall, the event was well received by those on the ground, with the hopes of future action such as a charitable ribbon campaign as seen with Breast Cancer Awareness. The end of this event shared a teaser trailer for Bee the Change: an upcoming documentary on the plight of the bees, which will be released on the international bee day (20th May).

This was an amazing launch for the campaign and interest in nature has increased, especially with the creation of the origami bee swarm.  However, there was a noticeable lack of blue room delegates or policy makers present at the event.

From my perspective it has been inspiring to see such attention given to pollinators with the unifying of diverse organisations to support them. I would like to see this momentum continue, with pollinators becoming an item on the official  agenda in future COP discussions.