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International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

GLOBAL AGRICULTURAL BIODIVERSITY CONFERENCE CONCLUDES ON A HIGH NOTE

08/11/2017

Key decisions taken by 144 countries

Kigali, Rwanda, 3 November 2017 It has been an exciting week at the Kigali Convention Center, with hundreds of delegates holding intense discussions late into the night in order to arrive at decisions that will guide the work of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture for the next two years. The Seventh Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty took place from 30 October to 3 November 2017 and was held, for the first time, in Sub-Saharan Africa, hosted by the Rwandan Government in Kigali.

Some of the key decisions taken this week by the Seventh Governing Body (GB7), that comprises representatives from 144 member countries, include:

  1. Appointment of the first African Secretary of the International Treaty: Dr Kent Nnadozie from Nigeria;
  2. Launch of the Fourth Call for Project Proposals under the International Treaty’s Benefit-sharing Fund that will invest at least USD 5 million in projects that support farmers, plant breeders and scientists in developing countries;
  3. Continued momentum for work on the enhancement of Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing, aimed at generating more benefits amongst member countries;
  4. New approach for reviewing the International Treaty’s funding strategy to ensure continuity and  financial stability;
  5. Establishment of an expert group to support countries find ways to implement Farmers’ Rights, aimed at protecting the rights of smallholder farmers, their traditional knowledge and ways to include them in relevant national decision-making processes;
  6. Appointment of the Chair of the Eighth Governing Body: Ms Christine Dawson of the United States, and six Vice Chairs, one from each regional group (i.e. Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Near East, North America and the South West Pacific), who will guide the work of the International Secretariat in the coming biennium, 2017-2018.

The Seventh Governing Body also discussed the rapidly growing Global Information System (GLIS) that enables countries to exchange information on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) electronically. GLIS assigns unique Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to PGRFA in a consistent and accurate way to help identify the material. This is critical for the effective accumulation of information resulting from scientific research carried out by different institutions. In just three weeks since GLIS has been live, over 185 000 DOIs have been assigned. The Seventh Governing Body also discussed the importance of the evolution in Digital Sequence Information, a new technological approach to accessing and using PGRFA.

The International Treaty is one of the top 10 achievements of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and serves as a de facto flagship for agricultural biodiversity.

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