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...

Coordination Meeting of the African Group for the Ninth Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity serving as the meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 4 June 2018: A one-day African Group Coordination meeting was organized by 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). The coordination meeting 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 welcome remarks, the Head of AU-NEPAD-ABNE, Dr. Jeremy T. Ouedraogo, expressed his appreciation for the commitment of African negotiators over the years towards advancing the interests of the continent during international negotiations and urged participants to not only represent the interests of their countries but also speak with one voice for Africa. Representatives from thirty-one (31) AU Member States who are national focal points of the Biosafety Protocol attended the meeting. The negotiators representing the African region discussed the agenda items of the COP-MOP 9 towards an African position setting. Among the key issues that the group focused on were risk assessment and risk management of living modified organisms, issues of compliance with the Protocol and socio-economic considerations vis-a-vis new and emerging technologies that impact the implementation of the Biosafety Protocol. Exchange of experiences on national reports, meeting obligations to the Biosafety Clearing-House and challenges faced as a result of allocation of financial resources to biosafety by the funding mechanism of the CBD were also considered. Recommendations to the Secretariat of the African Group (the AUC and the NEPAD Agency) regarding...

Establishment of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management Programme

Representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states, met from 15 – 17 August, 2017, in Accra, Ghana, for the establishment of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management (WA-IVM) Programme. After a series of consultative workshops, this meeting was the final stage for the validation of the programme. The key objective of this meeting was to agree on the scope and approach for rolling out the WA-IVM programme with malaria as pathfinder disease and gene drive as pathfinder technology. The meeting also sought to identify the needs and requirements of regulators that would facilitate the operationalization of the IVM programme in the ECOWAS region. It also aimed at determining a governance structure for the programme and aimed at considering for adoption a five year workplan for the programme. 42 representatives, mainly CEOs for Food and Drugs Authorities, and National biosafety Agencies as well as from Ethics Committees of the 15 ECOWAS countries took part in the meeting. It was officially opened by Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director General of Nigeria National Biosafety Management Agency and representing his country that chairs ECOWAS. He stated that “science and technology are the major drivers of economic change and if there are no applications for science and technology, the African continent will not make any significant progress.” Mrs Mimi Darko, CEO of Ghana Food and Drug Authority and Mr. Eric Okoree, CEO the Ghana National Biosafety Agency, welcomed participants and wished that the different discussions contribute to fine-tune the IVM programme for a smooth and effective implementation on the ground. Dr Tete Amouh, Officer in charge of Communicable Disease at...

National Seminar on the Implementation of the Biosafety Regulation on the Management of Genetically Modified Organisms in Mozambique

The Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Professional Technicians (MCTESTP), organized National workshops on the Implementation of the Biosafety Regulation on the Management of Genetically Modified Organisms in Mozambique, from 11 – 12 July, 2018, in Maputo and the Minister invited NEPAD Agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) to bring in continental perspectives from a neutral point of view into the discussion with all the stakeholders. The objective of these two-in-one workshop was to engage all the stakeholder in a discussion on the issue of the Biosafety Decree and its implication for the Mozambican and a forum to officially inaugurate GIIB’s with all the ministries involved with the mandate as stipulated by the Decree. It was also a platform for reflection on the implementation of the Biosafety Regulation on the Management of Genetically Modified Organisms. The meeting was opened by H.E. Prof. Doutor Eng. Jorge Olivio Penicela Nhambiu, Minister of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Professional Technicians. In his opening remarks, Prof. Nhambiu expressed his “sincere thanks to NEPAD Agency ABNE for the efforts to support the establishment of functional national biosafety system in Mozambique through technical support.” He further stated that “Biotechnology is an area of great potential for solving the various challenges of modern society and rural communities, especially in the area of Agriculture. Therefore, recognizing the potential that this component has, together with the need to regulate its use, after formalizing different inherent legislation, the Biosafety Regulation on the Management of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) was approved.” The development and use of GMOs in the country are regulated by Decree No. 6/2007...

First International Biosafety Short Course implemented in Nigeria

NEPAD Agency ABNE in partnership with the National Biosafety Management Agency of Nigeria (NBMA), the Godfrey Okoye University (GOUni), Michigan State University (MSU) and the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS), successfully implemented an international biosafety short course at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Nigeria, from 16 – 18 July, 2018. Participants were drawn from various relevant stakeholder institutions such as biotechnology and biosafety agencies, academia and research institutions, as well as the media and women groups. The main objective of this short course was to empower important stakeholders with current information on the safe management of biotechnology for socio-economic development. It also sought to provide a platform for networking among key actors to foster inter-agency collaborations and to increase awareness among key actors on their role, and the significance of having functional regulatory systems for biotechnology. Official welcome and opening remarks were given by Prof. Edwin Onyeneje, Deputy Vice Chancellor of GOUni; Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director General of NBMA; Prof. Karim Maredia, Director of the World Technology Access Program at MSU; Dr Mathew Dore, Nigeria Country Leader for PBS; Dr. Ojuolape Solanke, West African Health Organization (WAHO); Dr. Jeremy T. Ouedraogo, Director of NEPAD Agency ABNE; Prof. Uche Ebe, Enugu State Commissioner for Education; and Prof. Engr. Patrick E. Ikpenwa, Enugu State Commissioner for Science and Technology. All interveners welcomed participants to the biosafety short course and congratulated GOUni for this important feat. Prof. Edwin Onyeneje said that GOUni was particularly honored to host such an important event and thanked all partners who contributed to make this happen. Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo highlighted that “through this activity, the NEPAD Agency would...
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