Research Alliance on Bioprotection
Over the last 12 months, CSIRO has been co-designing a Bioprotection Research Alliance to help investigate ways to boost capacity and capability towards stronger bioprotection in the region. The work builds off the success of the ASEAN FAW Action Plan. The support of the Australian Government towards funding this work is gratefully acknowledged.
Why collaborate more on Bioprotection?
Pests and diseases continue to threaten regional food production and trade: climate change, the introduction of new invasives, poor and heavy use of pesticides (e.g., the emergence of resistance) etc are only likely to increase the risks to regional biosecurity over the coming years.
Pests and diseases do not respect country borders – biosecurity is highly dependent on strong national biosecurity systems in all countries – we are as strong as our weakest link.
Transboundary management problems benefit from transboundary and transdisciplinary research approaches.
Many of the pests and diseases are the same across Southeast Asia, Asia and the Pacific and the region is linked through trade and natural migration pathways - sharing knowledge and resources on tackling these pests and diseases can help better leverage limited resources, as well assist better preparation in all countries for more effective pre-border and post-border management.
Building capability and boosting capacity in institutions 'in-country' is essential - so that all countries have the tools, knowledge and resources to decide how to best manage their own biosecurity in a robust way.
Researchers and stakeholders are often working on the same pests and diseases or on similar solutions to help manage them - sharing knowledge and working together to increase knowledge of pests and diseases and crop and animal systems, as well as developing common protocols, methodologies and monitoring systems support high-impact research at a regional level - as well as at local and national levels. It can also help attract more funds and make those funds go further.
Developing a new generation of biocontrol products and solutions - efficient, effective and low environmental impact - requires collaboration, support, and effort at scale to ensure they can be affordable, accessible and meet the needs of farmers across the region.
Guiding principles for the design
There are currently 8 guiding principles for the design of the Alliance. These are:
A “bricks and mortar” centre is not necessary, the purpose is to build up capacity and capability in the region in existing organisations.
2. Lean & low-cost structure
Funding needs to get out to the research community already out there in the region, not stuck in a central hub.
3. Starting small and remaining flexible
Building a solid foundation focused on improving key insight, skills, capability and capacity gaps. The Alliance should be able to grow flexibly in the future based on strong results, the different interests of the stakeholders, as well as emerging threats
4. Crop and animal-focused
Animal-related work will be focused on gaps not addressed by current regional efforts.
5. Research groups led or co-led by regionally-based researchers. Regional-based stakeholders drive leadership on topics of importance to the region.
6. Focuses on efficiencies and gains to be made through collaborative projects involving 4 or more countries. Any projects under the Alliance/Centre involving researchers from only one or two countries must be designed so they have the potential for future regional scale-up and learning opportunities. Knowledge-sharing with researchers in other countries is required to be built into projects.
7. Provides a unique platform for communicating bioprotection science. It is important to be able to communicate better why strong biosecurity systems are critical to securing sustainable livelihoods and economic development.
8. Sustainable funding
The model must be able to secure long-term stable funding where possible, with at least one foundation partner, and the ability to attract and manage future funding using innovative partnerships and business models.
35 experts from across the region meet to brainstorm barriers and opportunities for a regional Alliance. The Report of the Meeting can be downloaded here.
76 experts met for a three-day meeting from 6-8 June 2023 in Bali, Indonesia from 15 countries and representing 37 organisations including Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, South Pacific Community, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam. The meeting report can be downloaded here.
Online meetings have been held along, with focus group discussions and 1-on-1 interviews with experts involving more than 110 stakeholder interactions.
Online, 1-to-1, FGD
How are we defining bioprotection?
Bioprotection is more than just tools or technologies or policy, it requires a different way of thinking and the involvement of stakeholders from across the food system. Bioprotection emphasises the need to develop and disseminate holistic integrated management solutions that protect the environment through building ecosystem resilience to pests and diseases from the ‘ground up.’
In general, biosecurity and bioprotection can be used interchangeably. The use of the term bioprotection emphasises the focus of the Alliance as a new and innovative knowledge and skills builder which will prioritise collaboration and transdisciplinary research on biocontrol as well as enhancing plant and animal health for strong biosecurity.
Bioprotection is used by the Alliance to mean, “Protecting, and enhancing the health and resilience of animals and crops to disease and pests in a changing climate by using safe and sustainable monitoring, management, technologies, and tools in a timely way. This involves stakeholders across the food system working together in coordinated, collaborative and innovative ways.”
What are some of the barriers?
Understanding the barriers to effective bioprotection is important. Here is a selection of barriers that stakeholders identified.
What could a regional Alliance help achieve?
Many opportunities were identified by stakeholders from across the region. These have been categorised into 8 major themes.
What might be some of the research themes of the Alliance?
Eight major themes have currently been proposed. It is important to note, however, that any research topic of interest that attracts researchers/practitioners from 4 or more countries who are interested in working together is a potential project. This ensures that projects meet the needs of researchers from across the region and also drives collaboration across countries. In addition, Flagship projects are also proposed that focus on a particular pest or disease that is a concern of more than 4 countries and where funding has been identified for progressing joint work activities.
Cross-Cutting Research Group
Cross-Cutting Research Group
Cross-Cutting Research Group
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