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Environment
News article | 23 March 2021 | Brussels | Directorate-General for Environment

Commission launches Pollinator Park – a dystopian virtual reality experience of a world without pollinators

Details

Publication date
Author
Directorate-General for Environment
Location
Brussels

Pollinator Park is an interactive digital tool to raise awareness about the alarming decline of pollinators and mobilise global action to address it. Designed in collaboration with world-renowned ‘archibiotect’ Vincent Callebaut, Pollinator Park offers a glimpse of the bleak future that awaits unless we radically change our relationship to nature. Publicly available as a web version and in virtual reality, it invites visitors to learn about pollinators, try their hand at pollination, shop for groceries in a pollinator-deprived world, and find out how they can help avoid this possible future.

Conceived as part of the EU Pollinators Initiative, Pollinator Park should raise awareness, engage society at large and promote collaboration on wild pollinators. It helps ongoing European Green Deal efforts to address the nature and pollinator crises, and should also help mobilise support for an ambitious deal for nature at the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CoP 15) later this year. In particular, members of the EU’s Global Coalition “United for Biodiversity” are invited to use Pollinator Park as part of their own campaigns around biodiversity loss.

Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:

The alarming decline of insects that pollinate crops and wild plants puts food security at risk and threatens our survival. The EU is already working hard to reverse the loss of pollinators with the European Green Deal, but we need a broad effort across the society, with contributions from scientists and experts, businesses and citizens. Pollinator Park aims to show the dangers of ‘business as usual’, inviting us all to strengthen our efforts to protect pollinators and ensure a better future for ourselves and future generations.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said:

One third of all the food that we eat, our fruit, vegetables, oils and nuts, is pollinated by bees. The use in agriculture of pesticides that harm pollinators is one factor contributing to their decline. That is why we have banned the use of such substances, like certain neonicotinoids. Ensuring a high level of protection of pollinators is very important for the Commission when deciding on the approval of active substances for use in plant protection products and protection will be further enhanced by the reduction targets for pesticides in the Farm to Fork strategy.   

Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski said: 

Pollinator Park shows us that the future of agriculture depends on pollinators. Without pollinators and biodiversity in general, the agriculture we know today will be a distant memory. This is why we have set ambitious targets in the European Green Deal to preserve biodiversity and promote sustainable farming practices such as organic farming. It is therefore crucial that we maintain a high level of environmental ambition for the new Common Agricultural Policy. It will play a key role in achieving these targets, complemented by research and innovation. Farmers are part of the solution, but they need the right tools to lead the green transition and ensure a bright future for the sector.

Pollinator Park is set in 2050, when a cascade of ecological crises has impoverished the world and pollinating insects have all but disappeared. The one beacon of hope in this barren landscape is a futuristic farm, which provides a safe haven for pollinators and is an eye-opener for visitors.

This new initiative attempts to harness the power of the fastest-growing media platform in the world – the world’s 2 billion video gamers. With an emotionally engaging story and immersive technology, it aims to engage a wide audience in pollinator and nature protection, targeting younger generations in particular.

Developed with the support of recognised scientific institutions – the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Pollinator Park is suitable for dissemination in museums, events, and educational institutions.  

The launch event of Pollinator Park on 23 March 2021 at 12h00 CET can be followed here. Journalist Beatriz Rios will welcome Commissioner Sinkevičius, EEA Director Hans Bruyninckx, architect Vincent Callebaut, novelist Maja Lunde, young pollinator ambassador Nynke Blömer, Naturalis Head of Education Yuri Matteman, and Pollinator Park creative director Yasmin van de Werf in conversation about pollinators in the world, in politics, and in the arts.

Background

Europe is home to an amazing variety of insects that pollinate crops and wild plants. This variety is essential to keep nature healthy and maintain our wellbeing. These pollinators, however, are in serious decline. This loss is a serious cause for concern, as around four in five crop and wild flowering plant species in the EU depend in part at least on animal pollination. Without pollinators, many plant species would decline and eventually disappear, presenting a major risk for nature and our own existence.

In 2018, the Commission recognised the urgent need to act on the decline of pollinators at EU level, and launched the first-ever EU initiative to tackle the problem. The protection of pollinators has been further strengthened through the European Green Deal, including the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the Farm to Fork Strategy and the coming Zero Pollution Action Plan making significant contributions to halt and reverse the loss of pollinators.

The Commission is currently reviewing the EU Pollinators Initiative, with a view to further strengthening actions to reverse the decline of these precious insects. It is aiming for wide societal engagement in this process during the second half of this year.

For more information

Visit Pollinator Park here

For collaborations or access to our social media toolkit, please contact: EU-POLLINATORS@ec.europa.eu

EU Pollinators web page

Find out all about pollinators, actions across the EU and how to get involved: EU Pollinator Information Hive

United Nations’ Playing for the Planet Annual Impact Report