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Internationally Funded Training in Biosafety and Biotechnology - Is it Bridging the Biotech Divide?
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The report is available for download here.

      UNU-IAS is pleased to present the final report of the Global Assessment “Internationally Funded Training in Biosafety and Biotechnology – Is it Bridging the Biotech Divide”. The purpose of this Assessment, undertaken by UNU-IAS from 2004 - 2007, was to provide a neutral, independent and objective assessment of the various internationally funded training programmes for biosafety and biotechnology, especially to the extent that it is necessary for biosafety, in the developing world. This Assessment does not advocate the use, or avoidance, of modern biotechnology. Rather it seeks to examine whether capacity building activities are delivering to developing countries the capacity to make and implement choices about biosafety and biotechnology.  

The Assessment was undertaken through a review of the available literature, country visits to the Philippines, Uganda, Bangladesh and Cameroon, interviews with a wide range of stakeholders and participation in several international meetings. The Assessment has benefited from the guidance of an Advisory Committee of senior experts. It has also benefited from the generous participation of numerous stakeholders who have provided information, views and comments on the Assessment. The Assessment also drew upon other assessments and evaluations of biosafety capacity needs, such as those undertaken by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Assessment sought to make broad observations about what the overall levels of existing capacity in the developing world mean for the direction of biotechnology and the international biosafety system, as much as to examine detailed questions about the challenges and successes of capacity building implementation. The Assessment sought also to identify what could be done to address the gaps and problems with capacity building in biotechnology and biosafety.

The Assessment observes that the use and prevalence of biotechnology seems certain to increase, including in agriculture. The widespread ratification of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) demonstrates the desire for biosafety measures to go hand in hand with the development of biotechnology. Effective regulation cannot be developed without general technical, policy and enforcement capacities. The need for developing the capacities necessary for effective implementation of the CPB has been emphasised by all stakeholder groups both prior to and since the Protocol’s entry into force.

The Protocol has provided a focus and catalyst for the various capacity-building initiatives, as well as the forum for the most comprehensive effort to identify, prioritize and coordinate capacity-building needs and activities in the field of biosafety and biotechnology. The Protocol has also catalyzed other efforts, most significantly the UNEP-GEF Biosafety Projects. These, along with many other initiatives, identify the Protocol as both a rationale and a framework for the delivery of capacity building.

This Assessment has, however, found that there remains a significant lack of capacity in many developing countries. In all probability the majority of developing countries, perhaps as many as 100, including most countries of Africa, Central Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean, are unable to manage modern biotechnology and implement their National Biosafety Frameworks. Indeed, the capacity deficiencies are so pervasive and broad that there is no effective international system of biosafety at the moment. In addition, the volume of resources available to address these needs in the coming years appears insufficient to provide the necessary support for countries to implement their basic obligations under the CPB.

At COP-MOP4, UNU-IAS is to hold a side event to introduce the findings of the report to delegates and other stakeholders, and to encourage discussion among stakeholders – particularly donors, implementing agencies and recipient countries - on the trends identified and issues raised by the report.

For further information, or to be mailed a printed copy of the Assessment, please contact:

Sam Johnston
Senior Research Fellow
E-mail: johnston@ias.unu.edu

The report is available for download here.

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