New Zealand could lead a global approach to biosecurity

05 September 2023 | News

Lincoln University’s Professor Philip Hulme is calling for New Zealand to help lead a global approach to biosecurity after the release of a major new report on invasive alien species he co-authored.

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Assessment Report on Invasive Alien Species and their Control estimated that by 2050 there will be at least 30% more invasive alien species worldwide.

"This is a best-case scenario, but when you factor in climate change, increasing urbanisation, and international travel we will experience a scale of biosecurity threats that we can hardly imagine," the Distinguished Professor in Pest Management and Conservation said.

According to Professor Hulme, New Zealand already faced pressures on its borders that stretched the resourcing of the conutry's biosecurity system.

We need a new way to deal with biosecurity threats that bridges across human, animal, plant and ecosystem health and looks beyond national borders to a global scale.

He called this approach One Biosecurity. 

"As a nation, we have a huge role to play in the leadership of any global approach and ensure that our political, research, and educational expertise is at the forefront of future developments."

Professor Hulme was one of the coordinating lead authors of the report, which was approved by representatives of the 143 member states of the IPBES. It highlights the global nature of these biosecurity threats, the huge impacts invasive species are having on food security, human health and the environment, and the situation's importance to policymakers worldwide. 

Invasive alien species have led to the extinction of numerous native species, imposed huge costs on national economies and impacted the livelihoods of indigenous peoples.

Professor Hulme, the only New Zealand researcher involved in the report, said it was the most comprehensive assessment of invasive alien species ever undertaken at a global scale and took almost 100 authors working together over four years to produce.

"A major worry is that most biological invasions are a relatively recent phenomenon driven by increases in globalisation since the 1950s and the rate shows no sign of slowing down,” Professor Hulme said.

"Listening to government representatives from the world's smallest island states to its largest economies all express similar concerns about the problem, it was clear that this was bigger than any individual country and the way forward is a unified global approach.

"A global One Biosecurity approach would help secure cleaner international trade and travel which would directly benefit Aotearoa New Zealand," he emphasised.

Learn more on The Conversation website.

Main image: The brown marmorated stink bug, an agricultural and horticultural pest. Native to Asia, it has spread throughout North America and Europe.