Initiatives: Academic

RIBios / IHEID / University of Bamako / University of Geneva

South-North academic cooperation

The Biosafety Interdisciplinary Network (RIBios) based at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies has built a solid partnership with the University of Bamako to implement the provisions of the Biodiversity Convention and the Cartagena Protocol. This has led to the creation of the first Certificate of Advanced Studies which meets the training needs of decision makers in Francophone Africa to manage biodiversity and biosafety.

Most countries have ratified important international treaties related to the environment. However, developing countries still need skills, equipment, regulatory frameworks and procedures to enable them to implement these international regulations at the national level. As a Party to these international treaties, Switzerland is committed to support their implementation in developing countries. With the financial support of the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC) and the "Canton de Genève" (Service de la Solidarité Internationale), RIBios has set up a multi-faceted programme for the effective implementation of environmental agreements in these countries, regarding biodiversity, biosafety and plant genetic resources management.

Training needs in these fields are high in Europe and far more important in developing countries, where there is a growing knowledge gap between scientists, decision makers and the public. Since 2006, RIBios helps the University of Bamako (Mali) to run a 3-months course for which about a hundred professionals apply each year, but only 20 persons can participate.
In total since 2004, RIBIOS has organized five postgraduate diplomas, corresponding to more than 2000 hours of teaching, and trained more 180 participants. In Switzerland, three editions of the “Certificate of Advanced studies in Biosafety and Plant Genetic Resources Management” (20 ECTS) have been organized in partnership with the University of Geneva. In Mali, two editions of the “Cours Interdisciplinaire en Biosécurité pour l’Afrique Francophone” have been organized in partnership with the University of Bamako.

RIBIOS has also organized several workshops and public conferences on liability issue (in Kenya) and on general biosafety issues (Laos). Recently, a round of six conferences and debates on ethical questions raised by biotechnology in the field of medicine and environment has also been set up.

In partnership with the CBD Secretariat, UNEP Biosafety Unit and the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment, RIBIOS organized a 3 days meeting in 2004, which allowed the creation of an international network of academic institutions offering biosafety trainings.