The nineteenth session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA 19) coincides with the celebration of the Commission's 40th anniversary. Delegates recollected progress achieved, highlighting the role that the Commission has played in conserving biodiversity for food and agriculture. As underlined by many, the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is harmonious with the Commission's Global Plans of Action (GPAs) for plants, animals, forest and aquatic genetic resources.
The opening session of the meeting was attended by Qu Dongyu, Director-General, FAO, who highlighted the strong political signals sent from the recently endorsed Framework of Action on Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, the Commission’s GPAs and the GBF, for conservation of global biodiversity.
David Cooper, Acting Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), highlighted interlinkages between work under the CBD and CGRFA, and stressed that nothing is more important for biodiversity than how we manage our agricultural systems.
Along a similar vein, Kent Nnadozie, Secretary, International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), said that conserving plant genetic resources is at the heart of implementing the GBF.
On the Review of Work on Biodiversity, Nutrition and Human Health, delegates lamented a lack of reference to CGRFA in relation to the One Health approach. Several parties stressed the importance of diversity within as well as across species, and some noted the importance of knowledge and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples.
Discussions on the Role of GRFA in Mitigation of and Adaptation to Climate Change focused on two questionnaires to be circulated to national focal points. Some delegates considered the questionnaires too complex and suggested simplifying. Delegates agreed on convening a multi-stakeholder workshop on GRFA and climate change to exchange knowledge, with a view to revising the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Integration of Genetic Diversity into National Climate Change Adaptation Planning.
On Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) for GRFA, delegates welcomed the report of the Sixth Session of the Team of Technical and Legal Experts on Access and Benefit-Sharing. Noting ABS developments in other fora, they highlighted the role of the Commission, and urged more interaction with the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.
The discussions on Digital Sequence Information (DSI) and GRFA drew great interest as delegates reviewed the draft study on the role of DSI for the conservation and sustainable use of GRFA. Delegates recommended that the FAO provide guidance on the use of DSI in research and development, while continuing to monitor developments on this topic in other fora. They also noted the lack of an agreed definition of DSI.
As the day's meeting drew to an end, many noted that the cross-sectoral matters on the day’s agenda are unfolding in other international fora, calling for collaboration between relevant bodies and national focal points, to avoid the duplication of efforts and funds. This brought to mind the theme of Saturday’s celebration of the Commission’s 40th anniversary, “connecting the dots.”
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All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For the 19th Session of the UN FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis.