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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

April 2018 – Companies face potential shortages of raw materials, a fall in crop quality and challenges around security of supply because of an emerging pollination deficit, according to a report authored by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the University of East Anglia (UEA).


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The pollination deficit


As a society we are increasingly dependent on pollinators. The proportion of global agricultural production that depends on pollinators has increased four-fold since 1961. Much of this dependence is linked to wild pollinators.

The pollination deficit: Towards supply chain resilience in the face of pollinator decline presents the results of a year-long project aimed at improving the understanding of pollination risk within private sector supply chains.

In a survey of blue chip companies including Asda, The Body Shop, Mars and Pepsico, many reported they were unable to take action because of uncertainty around which crops and sourcing regions were vulnerable to pollinator decline. The companies surveyed linked pollination issues with operational, regulatory and marketing risk.

The report sets out a five-step roadmap to enable sustainable pollinator management within supply chains. It also sets out a series of recommendations to improve supply chain resilience including:

  • a better business case
  • better understanding of crop vulnerability to pollinator decline and its economic implications
  • readily accessible national-level information on crop vulnerability to pollinator decline
  • better integration of pollinator-friendly practices into certification standards.

A private sector coalition on pollination could drive action in all these areas. The report calls on leading companies and standard setters to create a Partnership for Pollinators to collaborate to increase supply chain resilience.

For more information on how to get involved please .  

Citing this report

University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Fauna & Flora International, University of East Anglia, & UNEP-WCMC (2018, April). The pollination deficit: Towards supply chain resilience in the face of pollinator decline. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK, 42 pp.

Authors and acknowledgments

This resource is an output of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), supported by the Arcadia Fund. We are grateful for the inputs of all the companies, interviewees and workshop attendees who contributed their time and expertise. Particular thanks go to Dr Alexandra-Maria Klein and Dr Virginie Boreux, to Mars, The Jordans & Ryvita Company, Sustainable Agriculture Network and The Body Shop for inputting into this report. Thanks also to Dr Chloe Montes for her work in shaping this project and to Professor Simon Potts and Dr Tom Breeze.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of their companies, CISL, the wider University of Cambridge or clients.


Published: April 2018