Capacity building for Members of the National Biosafety Committee and select News Media groups in Mozambique

African Union Development Agency NEPAD ABNE in partnership with the Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher and Technical Vocational Education of Mozambique organized an Induction Seminar for Members of the National Biosafety Committee (GIIBS) in Mozambique, from 8 – 10 May, 2019 in Maputo. The objective of the seminar was to build the capacity of the GIIBS members in biosafety and especially their role in the national biosafety system. Under the current legal framework, the GIIBS membership are selected on their competency to represent different sectors in the country. It was important to build their capacity in the different aspects of Biosafety due to differences of background and highlight their responsibilities. In his opening remarks, Prof. Doutor Engo. Jorge Nhambiu, Minister of Science and Technology, Higher and Technical Vocational Education of Mozambique reminded that ”Mozambique has started field testing of drought tolerant maize since 2017 in order to safely use the potential of biotechnology tools to effectively cope with climate change and environmental issues”. He added that their supports in the sensitization of the Mozambican people on the decisions taken by the National Biosafety Authority is contextualized, science based and understood building on the pillar of awareness creation”. During the meeting, presentations were made by AUDA-NEPAD ABNE experts, GIIBs coordinator, and local scientists and government officials on biotechnology and biosafety key topics including Genetic Engineering Science, Global Biotechnology Adoption Trends, International and regional legal policies and instruments relevant to the regulation of modern biotechnology, Biotech Product and Field Inspection Procedures, Country engagement in International Negotiation, Roles and responsibility of GIIBs by Decree 71/2014, and Proposed GIIBS Activities Plan for...

Inauguration and first meeting of WA-IVM Technical Working Groups

African Union Development Agency – NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) in collaboration with the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO), the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Environment in Cote d’Ivoire, organized the inaugural meeting of WA-IVM Technical Working Groups (TWGs) from 24 – 26 April, 2019, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Dr. ABLE, Inspector General of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, representing the Minister, co-chaired the opening ceremony with Mr LAVRY, Technical Advisor of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. In his keynote address, Dr ABLE welcomed participants and thanked organizers for choosing Cote d’Ivoire for such an event. He also stated that “nobody has the right to stay insensitive to the malaria tragedy imposed on us by mosquitoes. While acknowledging the significant progress made during the last decade and our common move against malaria, we must today admit that unless alternative strategies are developed and implemented, the global objective to control malaria from 2016 – 2030 and reduce cases and mortality due to malaria by 40% by 2020 will not be achieved.” The programme covered the official swearing-in of the members of the Technical Working Groups, selection of Chairpersons and Rapporteurs of the TWGs and the review of detailed terms of reference of the TWGs. As part of the programme, each TWGs work plan and capacity strengthening needs were also reviewed. The nominees from the Member States are expert TWGs and some of them were not familiar with gene drive for the control of malaria so the general objective was to improve knowledge and enhance capacities of participants in the management and regulation of gene drive technology for...

Biosafety sensitization workshop for the Newly Constituted Portfolio Committee parliamentarians and a group of Journalists in Eswatini

African Union Development Agency – NEPAD ABNE, in partnership with the Eswatini Environmental Authority, successfully carried out a biosafety sensitization workshop for the Newly Constituted Portfolio Committee parliamentarians and for a group of Journalists, from 15 – 18 April, 2019, in Ezulwini, Eswatini. Eight Portfolio Committee parliamentarians on environmental affair and 8 media practitioners across major news media houses attended the two meeting respectively along with government officials and resource persons from the research sector. The Objectives of these two awareness workshops were first to enhance the capacity of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee members on biosafety to enable them to make informed decisions regarding the Amendment Biosafety Bill which would soon be tabled to the parliament, and for them to take ownership of the request Bill from the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affair. The meeting also was to offer the opportunity of a seeing-is-believing tour, for both the Members of Parliament and the Journalists group, to a conventional cotton field, the local ginnery, and a commercial Bt Cotton field within Eswatini. The awareness sessions for journalists aimed to enhance their understanding and skills on fact-based reporting on biotechnology and biosafety issues in the country. The series of sessions was officially opened by Hon. Moses Vilakati, Minister of Tourism and environmental Affairs. In his opening remarks, Hon. Vilakati said this sensitization workshop was timely and was an opportunity to reflect on biosafety issues and “to sharpen the country’s swap to better understand the subject matter and better implement the national strategies and plans. During the two meetings, presentations were made on themes pertaining to biotechnology and biosafety, including Biotechnology...

Successful AUDA-NEPAD ABNE retreat on strategic plan and programme documents

African Union Development Agency-NEPAD ABNE (AUDA-NEPAD ABNE) held a retreat from February 18 – 22 in Johannesburg to finalise ABNE new strategic plan and programme documents. As the current phase II of ABNE is about to end on December 2019, ABNE Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) recommended that a strategic plan be developed to define the vision, mission and strategic objectives for the next five years. In his opening remarks, Prof. Aggrey Ambali, Head of AUDA-NEPAD Industrialisation, Science, Technology and Innovation, congratulated all participants for the results achieved in the past year. He mentioned the TAC meeting held in Seattle in December where TAC member commended the team for the good work. He encouraged all to keep this positive momentum. He also highlighted the fact that NEPAD has become AUDA-NEPAD with more competence and authority to coordinate and execute AU programmes. Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, ABNE Director, welcomed staff to the retreat and wishes them the best for the New Year 2019. He pointed out there is a lot to deliver this year and that the team needs to work closely together. He added that the team also needs to be actively part of the new story of the Agency, especially with the establishment of AUDA-NEPAD. Now that NEPAD has become the African Union Development Agency with a new mandate, it is essential that a strategic plan be developed to show how ABNE could better fit in the AUDA-NEPAD outcomes. The 5-day meeting helped to thoroughly amend the draft version of the strategic plan and include all the new dimensions of ABNE work. The broader scope of the requests from member...

Meetings of the representative of AUDA/NEPAD with delegates at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Egypt

The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological diversity (CBD) was officially closed on 29 November, 2018 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Besides the plenaries and the meetings in the various working groups to try to reach consensus on biodiversity key issues, the conference was an opportunity for the representative of the African Union Development Agency, AUDA/NEPAD to meet several delegates to provide them with the necessary information and technical advices. Throughout the meetings, the African delegates had a strong common position on the need for emerging technologies for the development of the continent. This position was in line with the reports of the African Union (AU) High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies adopted by the African Heads of States, and officially launched in June, 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda. The AU NEPAD team, led by Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Director of the NEPAD Regional Office for West Africa and Director of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise, was requested by many authorities for informal meetings. Dr Ouedraogo particularly met African authorities who were present in Sharm El Sheikh for the high level segment of the biodiversity conference. Among the African leaders was Mr. Batio Nestor Bassiere, Minister of Environment, Green Economy and Climate Change of Burkina Faso. Dr Ouedraogo provided him will all the information pertaining to the recommendations of the AU High Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET) and offered him print versions of the relevant documents, including the Integrated Vector Management programme document. Dr Ouedraogo also met with Ms Silvia Ribeiro, Latin America Director for ETC group. Ms Ribeiro wished to...

UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting takes place for the first time in Africa

Egypt is hosting the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological diversity (CBD) which is scheduled from 17 – 29 November 2018 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The conference brought together all parties to the convention, nearly 200 countries and nations around the world, and also many observers from regional organizations, NGOS, industry, university and research institutions. In his opening remarks, H.E Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, President of Egypt, pointed out that hat ancient Egyptians respected nature and the land as we can see in their holy texts. He further stated that Egypt government “launched its initiative for integrating biodiversity in the developmental sectors, and exerting more efforts to reach an approach to integrate the three environmental agreements about climate change, desertification, and biodiversity.” Cristiana Pasca Palmer, the UN assistant secretary-general and executive secretary on the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, thanked Egypt for its efforts in supporting biodiversity. She stressed that “we are all here to fight for nature, and to fight for us as well, because we are part of nature.” African Union (AU) and NEPAD have sponsored the participation of a large number of country delegates to make sure the maximum of the African countries are represented and to contribute to make Africa’s voice heard in the negotiations. Prior to the start of the CBD meeting, the African group had a 2-day meeting onsite in Sharm El Sheikh to finalize views and come up with a common position on the various biodiversity issues to be addressed during the CBD meeting. These issues include enhancing integration of the Convention and...

Sensitization and Awareness Creation Workshop on Biosafety for Lawyers in Malawi

NEPAD Agency ABNE, in collaboration with the National Biosafety Regulatory Agency of Malawi, organized a sensitization and awareness creation workshop on biosafety for Lawyers in Malawi, on 6 November, 2018, in Lilongwe. This capacity building initiative is subsequent to a visit by ABNE’s technical team in the country in September, 2018, during which members of the Parliament’s committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, requested NEPAD Agency ABNE to support the country in the creation of sensitization and awareness for targeted stakeholders who matter as the country gets along the process of de-regularization of the Bt. cotton. Hence, the reason for considering the lawyers constituency as one of the key stakeholders. The prime objective of this activity was to sensitize the lawyers on a broad range of issues on biosafety and to raise awareness on agricultural biotechnology and its safe application as guided by international legal instruments. It was also the objective of the meeting to introduce the lawyers to the Biosafety Regulatory landscape in Africa and the Biosafety Regulatory approaches and system in Malawi and also aspects of Intellectual Property and Technology transfer in relation to Agricultural Biotechnology. The participants were drawn from Government Ministries and National Agencies such Attorney General’s Chambers, and Department Justice, Directorates of civil litigation and Public Prosecution, Environmental Agency, Agriculture Department, Customs, Standard Setting Agency, Human Rights Department, the first Parliamentary counsel and legislative drafting office. All the expected 20 attorneys were in attendance. During the meeting, presentations were made on the basics of biotechnology and biosafety. The lawyers were also introduced to GMO associated litigations from some African countries and elsewhere. Intellectual Property...

Strengthening Regulatory Capacity of Biosafety Regulators and Communicators for Confined Field Trial Management in Tanzania

NEPAD Agency ABNE in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, in Tanzania, organized a Confined Field Trial (CFT) management training in Environmental Safety and Biosafety Communication from October 26th-27th Dodoma, Tanzania. This important activity entailed a day of in-house training workshop and then a day for field visit to Makutopora where stack trait DT/Bt WEMA maize has been planted for confined field trials. The objective of the training and field visit was to build a critical mass of biosafety expertise in Tanzania by empowering and strengthening the competencies of regulators in management of CFTs. It also sought to facilitate the adoption and implementation of best practices for the performance of regulatory functions and improve networking and cooperation among regulators, scientists, and decision-makers. The meeting was well attended and officiated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary to the office of the Vice President and he also availed himself to be part of the field visit to the Research site the following day. The meeting brought together representatives from institutions within the regulatory system, including the Competent National Authority (CNA) on Biosafety, Institutional Biosafety Committees, Plant Quarantine Officers, Scientific Advisory Committees, Biosafety Communicators and Officers from Government Agencies involved in regulating Agricultural Biotechnology in Tanzania. It also involved local resource persons from the Ministry of Environment and TARI, the Agriculture Research institute currently conducting the DT/Bt WEMA maize. After presentations and discussions pertaining to CFT management requirements and best practices on the first day, the field visit carried out the following day peculiarly gave most of the regulators an ideal hands-on training which some of them never received before. The experience dispelled...

Gene drive regulatory consultative training workshop for West African biosafety Stakeholders

NEPAD Agency ABNE, in partnership with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (DDPSC) organized a consultative and training workshop on the regulatory aspects of Gene Drive technology, from 16 – 18 October 2018 in Dakar, Senegal. 20 participants attended the workshop, mainly national biosafety stakeholders from Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal and experts from the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). The objective of this workshop was to develop a good understanding of the basics of the “Gene Drive” technology and its potential applications in various sectors including health and agriculture and to establish a basis for conducting risk assessment for decision making on the use of organisms modified with Gene Drive technology. it was also expected that interactions between the workshop participants will help build strong relationships based on trust and confidence for the establishment of functional frameworks for coordinated review of Gene Drive permit applications and collaborative policy development within countries and regionally. During the meeting, experts from NEPAD Agency, DDPSC, and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) shared knowledge and experiences on topics relating to the malaria vector control in Africa, the basic science of Gene Drive, the introduction to the use of malaria modelling to inform policy, risk assessment for organisms (plants, animals, insects, and microbes), risk assessment for biological control, Gene Drive regulatory and policy background in Africa. The presentations were followed by practical case studies and exercises that allowed participants to improve their understanding and skills on risk assessment and risk management for the review of the Gene Drive applications. The Gene Drive Technology is one of the emerging...

Training Workshop on Negotiation Skills and Techniques for National Focal Points of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

The African Union’s Department of Human Resources Science and Technology (HRST) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency’s African Biosafety Network of Expertise program (AU-NEPAD-ABNE), in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) organized a training Workshop on Negotiation Skills and Techniques from 5-6 September, 2018 in Addis Ababa. This training workshop was in preparation for the upcoming Ninth Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) serving as the meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 9) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from November 17th to 29th, 2018. In his opening remarks, Dr Mahama Ouedraogo, Director of AU-HRST, affirmed that “this training workshop is being organised at a critical time, as COP/MOP 9 is nearing and as this time the COP/MOP is happening on our continent. It is important for African delegates to get the necessary skills to be able to make useful contributions on the part of Africa” Representatives from thirty-one (31) AU Member States who are mainly national focal points of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety attended the training. It was facilitated by Mr. Rabih El-Haddad, Manager of the Multilateral Diplomacy Programme at UNITAR and Dr. Joshua N. Weiss, Co-founder of the Global Negotiation Initiative at Harvard University and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project. The training covered key elements of negotiations skills and techniques, including the mindset of a successful negotiator, negotiation myths and barriers, introduction to two models of negotiation (positional approach and collaborative framework), challenging negotiation dynamic, and toolkit for efficient negotiations. In addition to formal presentations, participants were taken through various...