SLU news

Sustainable plant protection especially important in a changing climate

Published: 12 May 2023

The United Nations has designated 12 May as the International Day of Plant Health to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect biodiversity and the environment, and boost economic development. Related to this SLU aims to raise awareness on the importance of sustainable plant protection with a conference and a resource package about healthy harvests in a changing climate.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), between 20 and 40 percent of crop production are lost before harvesting due to pests. Climate change with increasing temperature, changed precipitation patterns and extreme weather could lead to even greater losses. Efforts to protect our crops from pests become more important.

Sustainable pest management is crucial to secure crop yield and to decrease the use of harmful pesticides. The EU recommends that the amount of chemical pesticides shall be reduced by 50% by 2030. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is one of the tools for low-pesticide-input pest management. It takes advantage of interactions between organisms occurring naturally in the agricultural ecosystems, and other nature-based solutions to control pests.

– Climate change impacts both the possibilities to use such nature-based solutions and the risk for pest outbreaks. Developing and implementing climate-smart pest management will facilitate resilient and sustainable pest management also in a changing climate and thus contribute to food security and food safety in unpredictable times, says Paul Egan, researcher at the Department of Plant Protection Biology, and research advisor at SLU Global.

– Jointly with CGIAR and other crucial partners, we have produced a resource package on healthy harvests, including report in which we lay out a road map for ‘climate-smart IPM’. It outlines the types of support required for practical implementation, such as climate-informed advisory services, information and communication technology, and policy. While emphasis in the package is placed on smallholder production systems – particularly for sub-Saharan Africa, – the principles of climate-smart IPM can be considered relevant to crop production generally, Paul concludes. 

Crop protection futures in agriculture

On 24 May, SLU hosts an afternoon conference to discuss plant protection strategies with reduced or no chemical pesticides. The goal is to make agriculture more robust, resource efficient and environmentally friendly. The conference includes experts from all over Europe and is open to plant protection researchers and anyone else interested. The focus will be on recent achievements, future solutions and ways forward.

More information and registration here.


Paul Egan, Associate Professor/ Researcher
Department of Plant Protection Biology
Telephone: +46 (0) 40-415162