The decline of pollinators

A new publication "Making a beeline for disaster? – The decline of pollinators puts agriculture at risk" written by the Swiss Re Institute warns of serious consequences if we ignore the decline of pollinators. Re/insurance can help address the problem.

Insect populations around the world are declining. We should be worried because insects – including bees – are not only vital pollinators, they are also a food source for other species and help break down dead matter. At the end of the day, a collapse in their numbers could also jeopardise ecosystems that benefit human beings. According to the intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES), three out of four of the leading crop types worldwide depend on animal pollination for yield and quality. This fact alone makes the maintenance of healthy ecosystems a vital concern not only for society as a whole but also for the agricultural insurance industry. Honeybees are the most common managed pollinator species, not only because they pollinate many plant species, but also because they produce honey – a valuable, commercially-marketed product.   

What's driving this decline? The abundant use of insecticides and pesticides and the effects of climate change are key reasons for the loss of honeybees and other species of pollinators. Habitat fragmentation, pathogens, pollution and the destruction of insects' natural habitats are additional factors driving their population decrease.

Swiss Re provides hands-on support

The Swiss Re Institute's publication – "Making a beeline for disaster? – The decline of pollinators puts agriculture at risk" – says that re/insurance can play a remedial role by assessing agricultural risks, supporting risk management and providing financial protection. All of these functions benefit the agricultural sector.

Swiss Re is also an active pollinator supporter. We installed beehives on the roof of our Swiss Re Corporate Solutions office in the Netherlands and trained employees to serve as beekeepers. Swiss Re Corporate Solutions is also a Partner of the Dutch National Bee Strategy, which is committed to initiatives supporting pollination by bees.