The ninth session of the Governing Body (GB 9) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA or Treaty) opened with an inaugural ceremony. The ceremony featured musical performances, short films on the importance of the Treaty and plant diversity for humanity and the planet, and a traditional Indian lamp lighting interval to wish prosperity for humanity. Delegates then heard opening and regional statements, addressed organizational matters, and discussed reports from the GB 9 Chairperson and the Secretary.
Highlights of the day include:
- Opening statements, including from Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, India, who underlined the need to ensure equitable benefit-sharing from the commercialization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), and stressed the importance of both technology and traditional knowledge in PGRFA conservation;
- The welcoming of three new parties, Dominican Republic, Mozambique, and South Sudan, bringing Treaty membership to 149;
- Adoption of the meeting’s agenda and timetable;
- Establishment of a budget committee;
- A discussion on the report presented by Secretary Kent Nnadozie, showing appreciation for intersessional work under difficult circumstances and supporting the establishment of the Emergency Reserve for Germplasm Collections at Risk, jointly established with the Global Crop Diversity Trust; and
- Discussions on a draft capacity-building strategy, a report on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Treaty, and a report on progress in the implementation of PGRFA-related Sustainable Development Goals.
In their opening statement, Argentina, for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), called for in-depth discussions on funding, the Global Information System (GLIS), conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA, and farmers’ rights. He drew attention to items on the Multilateral System (MLS), which should be considered alongside digital sequence information (DSI).
Lebanon, for the Near East, underlined the importance of the MLS to support regional collaboration and exchange of genetic resources. He highlighted the need to reignite dialogue on benefit-sharing, including DSI, and urged protection of farmers’ rights and sustainable use.
Uganda, for Africa, stressed that despite different regional needs, aspirations, and limitations, all parties share a common goal expressed by the Treaty’s objective.
India, for Asia, highlighted that some agenda items, including on the MLS and the Funding Strategy, are increasingly complex, especially for those that did not participate in intersessional groups, calling for detailed introduction and discussion.
Canada, for North America, looked forward to fruitful interactions, stressing India’s contribution to food security and farmers’ rights nationally and globally.
Australia, for Southwest Pacific, shared concerns about rising levels of food insecurity globally, and stressed that access to PGRFA is essential for crop improvement and to achieve food security, address climate change, and satisfy changing consumer preferences.
Moldova, for the European Regional Group (ERG), underscored the ever-growing importance of the Treaty regarding innovation, crop science, and the management of crop diversity for food security.
Kuwait, for the Group of 77 and China, highlighted intersessional progress on farmers’ rights, and suggested that GB 10 take place in the closing months of 2023 at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy.
The Dominican Republic, as a new party to the Treaty, recognized efforts from local and international entities that made the ratification possible, stressing it enables access to technical resources and support, and expert advice from other parties on food production and farmers’ rights.