Opinion Article
Editorial from
Mariana Santos, Melania Padolecchia
Oikos International Student Club Lisbon
November 16, 2022
15. Life on land

15. Life on land

Promote, restore and promote the sustainable use of Earth's ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

The importance of bees on our planet

Insect pollinators are a key element for the equilibrium of the ecosystems that surround us, and bees are an important subgroup because they are responsible for pollinating around 60 to 70 % of the world's total flowering plant species. However, extinction rates have jumped from 100 to 1000 times the normal rates because of many external conditions, like climate change, urbanization. At this point, the questions are the following: is the importance of these little in-sects clear to our society? And, are any measures being developed to avoid these risks?

And the human-made impact on the bee's lives

Insect pollinators are a key element for the equilibrium of the ecosystems that surround us. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), around 75  % of the world's crop-producing fruits and seeds for human consumption are dependent, at least in part, on pollinators. But what is pollination? In simple terms, pollina-tion is the movement of genetic material in the form of pollen grains that come from the male reproductive part of a plant to the female reproductive part of a plant. Upon the two's meeting, a plant's seed or fruit is formed. Some plants can pollinate themselves, while oth-ers need the help of abiotic agents such as wind and water or the help of animal pollina-tors. Among these animal pollinators are bees, which are very efficient pollinators due to their ability to communicate the location of flower resources to their nestmates.

Bees are an important group of insect pollinators because they are responsible for pollinat-ing around 60 to 70 % of the world's total flowering plant species, and this is crucial in maintaining biodiversity. Without pollinators, many plants could not seed and reproduce; and without plants to provide pollen and nectar, many animal populations would decline.

Pollinator-dependent crops are five times more valuable than those that do not need polli-nation. Consequently, the European honeybee, Apis mellifera, is one of the most economi-cally valuable pollinators of crops worldwide. This species is found in a wide variety of environments, and in fact, it is a species that has shown great adaptive potential. This last characteristic is fundamental when we witness the effects of climate change.

European Honeybee, Apis mellifera

According to FAO, extinction rates for pollinators have jumped to 100 to 1000 times the normal rates. Approximately 40 % of invertebrate pollinators such as bees and butterflies are facing extinction worldwide, but especially in Europe and North America. This de-crease may be caused by many factors such as parasites, bacteria, viruses, pathogens, eva-sive species, climate change, and, lastly, urbanization. However, in the future, climate change is expected to have a major role in the decline of bee populations worldwide due to both changes in temperature and general meteorological conditions.

Acacia flower

Other species that will suffer greatly because of climate changes are the bumblebees. If climate conditions change more frequently than the species' historically observed toleranc-es, their occupancy and richness will decline. Temperature and precipitation can directly and indirectly affect bumblebees; directly affecting the species' mortality and fecundity, indirectly changes the floral resources. According to a study on pollinator decline, the probability of site occupancy has declined on average 46 % in North America and 17 % in Europe relative to the period between 1901 and 1974.


Another aspect that is worth mentioning is the bees, especially honeybees, impact on eco-nomics. According to FAO, the volume of agricultural production dependent on pollinators has increased by 300 % between 1968 and 2018. Cocoa and coffee are two examples of crops produced with pollination, and these provide income for family farms, especially in developing countries. Moreover, with the increasing commercial value of honey, bees are becoming a growing generator of income. The value that bees bring to humans is beyond the food that we eat. Some species provide materials such as beeswax for candles and mu-sical instruments.

As previously mentioned, urbanization has an impact on the lifespan of bees. Neverthe-less, this impact is not straightforwardly negative. City parks and little gardens on apart-ment balconies provide bees with diverse pastures throughout the year. Urban beekeeping is valuable for the environment because bees take care of natural ecosystems. This con-trasts with monocultural practices that are one of the worst threats to wild bees because they do not promote biodiversity.

While beekeepers and farmers can protect bees that are important for their economic activi-ties, such as honeybees, they can endanger wild species with their practices. Hence, it is essential to protect bees, especially wild bees, because they enrich biodiversity on our planet. I believe that a stronger relationship between conservation in urban and rural areas will be necessary.

Mariana Santos, Melania Padolecchia
Oikos International Student Club Lisbon

Keep reading

Hopes and wishes for what comes next: Smart Green Lifestyles

A second hope for the post-pandemic, wishing that some of the new and sustainable behaviours adopted in the wake of covid-19 find a way to adhere to the new normal lifestyle.

What is the role of science and technology in ESG and Sustainability?

Listen to the new Podcast Cruzamento with Filipe Alfaiate, an award-winning entrepreneur focused on low and middle income countries and Assistant Professor (Adjunct) at Nova SBE.

impACT stories #1: The Other Side of Impact with Meg Pagani

ImpACT Stories is Nova Social Consulting's new initiative to spark our ecosystem and our community's impact journeys, finding our #roletoplay at Nova School of Business and Economics and beyond.

How powerful questions can change the world

Do you believe questions can change the world? I believe they can. In the first LinkedIn article of my life I share how we can ask more powerful & generative questions and share some resources that I found helpful.


BOLD Leadership: Nova SBE's Innovative Program for Future Leaders

In an era defined by rapid change and global challenges, the question of what it takes to be an outstanding leader in the 21st century becomes increasingly crucial. Nova School of Business and Economics (Nova SBE) has stepped up to address this query with its groundbreaking initiative: BOLD – Be an Outstanding Leader. This senior manager training program not only equips participants with essential skills but also aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16), emphasizing the role of leadership in creating positive societal impact.

Subscribe our weekly newsletter

By subscribing to the Nova SBE Role to Play newsletter, you can stay up-to-date on the latest articles posted on the website.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

We all have a role to play

We are on a mission to be a community dedicated to the development of talent and knowledge that impacts the world.

With just ten years to go, an ambitious global effort is underway to deliver the 2030 promise. We want to take a stand and we are calling on our community to showcase how they are contributing to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, whilst influencing more and more people to unravel their role to play.

Here, you will find four different ways your ideas can flourish, dialogue can be enhanced, and action can take place. You can choose one or all four, and Nova SBE will be there to support you all the way and guarantee tangible change.

We all have a role to play, and this is your way in.