ITPGR Secretariat Holds Event on Benefit-sharing During International Green Week

ITPGR17 January 2014: An event on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR), held on 17 January 2014 in Berlin, Germany, convened as part of International Green Week 2014. The event focused on the importance of strengthening funding for the Treaty's Benefit-sharing Fund, which supports projects in developing countries, and the enhancement of the Treaty's Multilateral System of access and benefit-sharing, which enables the exchange of plant genetic material for food security throughout the world.

The event was organized as part of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture on 'Empowering Agriculture: Fostering Resilience - Securing Food and Nutrition,' and was held at a time that marks a new phase of enhanced implementation of the Treaty. The event follows the decisions adopted at the fifth session of the Treaty's Governing Body, held in September 2013, in Muscat, Oman, including the establishment of an intersessional working group mandated to develop measures to increase user-based payments and contributions to the Benefit-sharing Fund, as well as additional measures to enhance the functioning of the Multilateral System.

During the event, ITPGR Secretary Shakeel Bhatti indicated that the Treaty is preparing to launch its third call for proposals under the Benefit-sharing Fund, which will continue to focus on helping farmers adapt to climate change, and on supporting the sharing of technology, knowledge and plant genetic resources needed by developing countries to achieve food security. During this third round, over US$11 million, coming largely from voluntary contributions, will be distributed to support projects in developing countries.

Matthew Worrell (Australia), Chair of the sixth session of the Governing Body, called on all regions to enhance the benefit-sharing component and the functioning of the Treaty's Multilateral System to enhance crop diversity. Other speakers included Maria Flachsbarth, German State Secretary of Agriculture, who highlighted Germany's support for the Treaty's work on various areas, including a new project to develop the Global Information System on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; Hanne Maren Blåfjelldal, Norway's Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Food, who underscored that securing plant genetic resources for food and agriculture is a shared responsibility; and Silvana Maselli, coordinator of a benefit-sharing project in Guatemala, who provided concrete examples of how the funds channeled through the Benefit-sharing Fund have been used in the field to directly support farmers' conservation activities, including, for example, through the establishment and management of community genebanks. In his video address, Braulio Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), emphasized the common goals of the CBD and the International Treaty in conserving agricultural biodiversity and plant genetic resources.

The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture included a Ministerial Summit, which released a joint Communique on 'Empowering Agriculture: Fostering Resilience – Securing Food and Nutrition,' which aimed to “support global efforts to encourage the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources (on farm, in situ and ex situ) and the sharing of the benefits arising out of their use in order to ensure that future generations have access to the necessary diversity for breeding.”[ITPGR News Release] [Braulio Dias Video Address] [Brief on Benefit-sharing Project in Guatemala] [IISD RS Sources]