On 9 – 10 August UNICRI participated in the 2018 Meeting of Experts of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) held at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva. More specifically, the Institute took part to the session Review of Developments in the Field of Science and Technology Related to the Convention (MX2). In its presentation during the plenary session, representatives of UNICRI described the primary goals, the working methodology and the geographical dimension of the International Network on Biotechnology (INB). The INB, that is coordinated by UNICRI, is a global network committed to advancing responsible and secure conduct in the life sciences and created to address emerging and future risks posed by advances in biotechnology, while also encouraging the productive application of modern biology.
Partners of the network are academic and research institutions, non-governmental and international organizations, and other relevant stakeholders such as the Do-it-yourself (DIY) biology community. They are committed to life science education and are working collaboratively, to develop and share awareness raising resources to enhance standards in biosafety, biosecurity and bioethics. The INB network is truly global, with representatives from the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It is presently composed by 17 partners from 14 countries.
During the presentation, the INB multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary approach was underlined: the network fosters exchanges among sectors, technical competencies and experiences. It also leverages existing capabilities as well as international best practices to put into value lessons learned but also local knowledge. Another added value of the network is the fact that it is future-oriented: it focuses indeed on the latest developments in the life sciences and biotechnology to keep pace with a constantly evolving landscape given that advances in these fields rapidly enlarge the spectrum of risks.
The added value of the educational resources of the INB was also underlined. These resources consist in immersive and game-based learning that utilize cutting-edge IT formats to engage young audiences and to enhance the learning experience for all users (teachers, trainers, and students alike). Some of these resources, such as a Virtual Tour Biological Safety Level 3 (BSL3) laboratory, a case study video on H5N1 avian influenza and an interactive video in a do-it-yourself lab, were showcased.