Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculture

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Assessment on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production 

Assessing, valuing, enhancing and managing ecosystem services is a challenging task, often due to the "invisibility" of these services. Pollination is an ecosystem service that - despite the (generally) small size of its provider (pollinators) can be understood and appreciated in a more "visible" way. 

The assessment Report on “Pollinators, pollination and food production” was selected by the Member countries to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) to be the first assessment to be undertaken and completed in 2016. 

IPBES was established in April 2012 with its first work programme starting in 2014 and its major objective is to “strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.” IPBES’ four core functions in the first work programme include: 

  • Knowledge generation (identify and prioritise key scientific information needed for policymakers and to catalyse efforts to generate new knowledge); 
  • Assessments (perform regular and timely assessments of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services and their interlinkages); 
  • Policy support tools/methodologies (support policy formulation and implementation by identifying policy-relevant tools and methodologies);
  • Capacity building (prioritise key capacity-building needs to improve the science-policy interface, and to provide and call for financial and other support for the highest-priority needs related directly to its activities). 

For the assessment on “Pollinators, pollination and food production ”, the chapter outline of the final document was approved as part of the Work Programme 2014-2018.

The thematic assessment report consisted of six-chapters, which was the basis for its summary for policy makers (SPM).Through funding from the Government of Norway, it was possible for FAO (who was coordinating and facilitating the implementation of the first International Pollinators Initiative (IPI)) to enhance this website to serve as an information resource to support the six chapters. 

Below you can find a description of each of the six chapters that were prepared for the assessment, as well as information on each chapter focus. 


Background to pollinators, pollination and food production

Chapter 1 included a brief review of the diversity of pollinators and pollination systems and their role in supporting food production specifically and human well-being and biodiversity maintenance more generally. It assessed the status of and trends in the biological elements and functions that interact to provide pollination services. The assessment included the role of native and exotic pollinators, including insects and other invertebrates, bats and other mammals, birds, reptiles and other vertebrates. Moreover, it took into account the role of multiple factors across spatial scales, such as plant community functional composition, pollinator diversity and specificity, climatic seasonality and fluctuations, landscape structure linked to processes of dispersal, and mobility. The assessment included indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) perspectives on pollinators and pollination systems and their benefits to those knowledge holders, as well as trade-offs between pollination processes and services and possible connections with disservices.


Drivers of change of pollinators, pollination networks and  pollination

Chapter 2 assessed the drivers of change of pollinators, pollination networks and pollination services, especially those of importance for food production, including local crops, wild food plants and honey. It included an assessment of indirect drivers of change, including trade and policies in areas such as agriculture and spatial planning. It assessed direct drivers of change in pollination, including the risk posed by climate change, invasive species and diseases, land-use changes, changing agricultural practices, and the use of chemicals including fungicides and insecticides. The consequences of the cultivation of genetically modified plants for pollinators, pollination networks and pollination services and food production, including honey, were assessed.


The status and trends in pollinators and pollination 

Chapter 3 assessed the state of and trends in pollinators, pollination networks and pollination services as keystone ecological processes and services in both human managed and natural terrestrial ecosystems. It focused on the contribution of pollination by various pollinator populations to human well-being, based on the role of pollination in maintaining agricultural and natural biological diversity and in safeguarding communities that depend for their livelihood security on the use of natural resources, including for medicinal use. Consideration was given to existing indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) about pollinators, pollination networks and pollination services and how they contribute to the way of life of Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs), and more generally to living in harmony with Mother Earth. Emphasis was placed on the essential role of pollination in contributing to food security, including with regard to the quality, stability and availability of food as well as its role in income generation from the local to the global scale. The chapter assessed how the pollination deficit can be defined and what areas and agricultural systems are prone to pollination deficits and declines. It also included information about the perception of Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) about this deficit.


Economic valuation of pollinator gains and losses

Chapter 4 assessed economic methodologies for determining the value of pollination for food production and the economic impacts of declines in food-relevant pollinator populations. It assessed the extent to which the current estimates of the economic value of pollination for food production reflect the contributions of pollination to food security and development as identified in Chapter 3. It also assessed methodologies and approaches for undertaking such valuations at the national and local levels.


Biocultural diversity, pollinators and their socio-cultural values

Chapter 5 assessed non-economic valuation, with special emphasis on the experience of indigenous and local communities, of impacts of the decline of diversity and/or populations of pollinators. Management and mitigation options as appropriate to different visions, approaches and knowledge systems were assessed.


Responses to risks and opportunities associated with pollinators and pollination

Chapter 6 assessed responses to risks associated with the degradation of pollination services and opportunities to restore and strengthen those services. Experience in the use of tools and methodologies for mapping, modelling and analysing options for action were assessed based on existing work by actors such as FAO, including by assessing how ecological uncertainties can be managed and research and monitoring needs met. The existing experiences recorded by other knowledge systems were incorporated into this chapter, contributing to the identification of management and policy options. The chapter furthermore assessed how an understanding of pollination declines and deficits can help advance practices and policies, particularly for land-use management, horticulture and agriculture, including through innovative approaches such as ecologically intensified agriculture as well as those used by Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). The assessment of response options included considerations of policy trade-offs.