Globalisation and pollinators: pollinator declines are an economic threat to global food systems.
Trade in animal-pollinated crops plays an important role in global food systems: in many low-income countries, export of pollinated crops such as coffee and cocoa plays a significant role in livelihoods, while food systems in many higher income nations depend on international trade in these crops to satisfy their local demands. Losses of pollination services therefore pose a significant risk to economies beyond the area directly affected. Using a simple extension of a common economic model, we explore which countries are most affected by a loss of pollination services in three case study groups of 25 countries that are vulnerable to different risks: pesticide use, natural disasters and economic debts. In all three cases, large, developed economies such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, are estimated to suffer the greatest economic losses, even if pollinator losses only affect smaller, less-developed economies. In cases where higher income countries are affected by pollinator losses, there is a significant shift in the value of global pollinated crop production towards other large, unaffected countries. Our findings highlight the need for richer countries to invest in pollinator conservation beyond their own borders to maintain resilient food systems. We provide suggestions for further economic research to better understand and identify system vulnerabilities to pollinator losses.