Story by Gea Galluzzi and Isabel Lapeña
On the 23rd and 24th of August 2012 the national kick-off workshop for the project “Strengthening national capacities to implement the ITPGRFA” took place in Costa Rica, organized by the National Seed Office (ONS), national counterpart of the project. Participants came from the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG), the Ministry of Environment, public research centres and genebanks (INTA, CATIE, Universities), NGOs (INBIO), farmer cooperatives and Bioversity International.
Walter Quirós from the ONS and president of the National Commission on Plant Genetic introduced the importance of the ITPGRA in general, Costa Rica’s commitments and obligations and the benefits expected for the country. Staff from Bioversity International gave an extensive overview of the ITPGRA, its legal framework and operational mechanisms; as well as on the fundamental steps leading to national level implementation and the role of the project in this direction. Among the most important steps mentioned was the identification of a relevant national authority in charge of access and benefit sharing of PGRFA and the clear identification of national collections automatically included in the MLS. Jorge Cabrera, a legal expert who will assist the national level implementation of the Treaty, gave a detailed overview of the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing under the CBD and its relation to the ITPGRFA.
The second day was dedicated to a short visit to the germplasm collections maintained in CATIE (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza) and to a discussion with national researchers around the activities to be carried out under the project’s complementary research themes. The discussion was very fruitful and allowed grounding the research questions outlined in the project in the national context and interests. Concept notes for each theme were refined and research work has been officially initiated.
Prior to the two-day workshop an additional day was devoted to training smaller groups of researchers on specific tools for data gathering and analyses, under specific research themes of the project. One group was trained in the use of the Climate Analogues tool, thanks to the participation of Flora Mer from the CCAFS program. This tool is one of the instruments to be used within a research component on estimating the impacts of climate change on interdependency on PGRFA across regions and countries. Through use of the tool, potentially useful germplasm from analogue sites can be identified which researchers could then access through the Multilateral System. A blog about the training session:
Another smaller group was trainedion the use of the Sawtooth software for collecting interview data as part of the research component on policy networks. This component aims to identifying key actors, strengths and weaknesses of their relations, and improve the policy making processes with respect to the implementation of the Treaty.
The workshop resulted in participants gaining more knowledge about the project, the International Treaty and its Multilateral System of benefit-sharing and about relations with the Nagoya Protocol. In general, it raised an interest among relevant national stakeholders about conservation and use of PGRFA and set very good basis for fruitful development of the project.