Aotearoa New Zealand, and the rest of the world, continue to face increasing biosecurity threats to our plant systems and native environment.
Recently, international experts have called for greater global coordination of biosecurity research to strengthen plant health. This includes global Agricultural Chief Scientists at the MACS-G20 gathering in Tokyo; the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC); the International Bioeconomy Forum (IBF) Plant Health Working Group; and in a joint article on science diplomacy in Nature Plants, led by Baldissera Giovani, the coordinator of international research collaboration, Euphresco. Protecting plant health on a global scale supports seven of the United Nation’s sustainability goals.
Better Border Biosecurity (B3), with Euphresco, and Australia’s Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI) used the recent First International Plant Health Conference, in London during September 2022, as an opportunity to host a workshop and a conference side session to explore options for enhancing international coordination for plant health research.
B3 Director Dr David Teulon participated in both initiatives and says with its advanced biosecurity system and co-ordinated research activity through B3, Aotearoa New Zealand has much to share with other countries. Conversely, we can benefit greatly from international research co-ordination, as invasive species originate from elsewhere.
“Euphresco has already made inroads to facilitate international collaboration and is linked to several networks, which provides an excellent foundation to build on.”
The workshop consisted of a small group with substantial international plant health interests and activity. It covered issues such as network membership, governance, resources, mission and suggested activities. Participants included Aciar, B3, CABI, CGIAR, CIHEAM, Defra, Euphresco, INIA, and PBRI.
Dr Teulon led discussion on models for resourcing an effective global research co-ordination.
The Conference side session included approximately 100 delegates from around the world. It included five presentations of effective international research co-ordination in plant health expedited through Euphresco followed by facilitated discussion with those present.
Dr Teulon presented B3/Plant and Food Research research led by Gonzalo Avila on pre-emptive biosafety for biological control, illustrated by the example of the brown marmorated stink bug / Samurai wasp. This research included substantial cooperation and support from USDA and CABI China.
He says the workshop and side session indicated wide support for the concept of global co-ordination for plant health research – an important prerequisite for moving forward. Next steps include a paper/manuscript to explore tangible options for such an initiative and a follow-up session to explore further options at the International Congress on Biological Invasions in Christchurch in May 2023.