Science for Development: 30 years of governance

Attended by 100 participants, including representatives from 57 Member States, Observer Countries and Multilateral Organisations, the 30th session of the ICGEB Board of Governors took place as a hybrid session on 22-23 May 2024 in Trieste, Italy.

The ICGEB is a worldwide approach to science. As an intergovernmental organisation that plays a key role in promoting Biotechnology research excellence, training and technology transfer to industry for the benefit of humanity, ICGEB Trieste was honoured to host the 30th session of the Board of Governors.

H.E. Mr. Edmondo Cirielli, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, delivered a video message during he opening ceremony, confirming the strong commitment of Italy, as ICGEB Host country, to supporting the Centre’s promotion of scientific cooperation and diplomacy as a pillar of growth. He also highlighted Italy’s special attention to Africa and the involvement of ICGEB in the Mattei Plan with an additional voluntary contribution of 2 million Euro for a new project on bioinoculants.

Min. Jelena Begovic, Minister of Science, Technological Development and Innovation of the Republic of Serbia presided the session, with Prof. Kassahun Tesfaye, Director-General of the Bio and Emerging Technology Institute, Ministry of Innovation and Technology of Ethiopia, Vice-President, also in attendance.

Director-General of ICGEB, Dr. Lawrence Banks (UK) was confirmed for a second mandate, commencing in July 2024, stating that he looks forward to an impactful second mandate and the achievement of greater milestones. Dr. Luiz Zerbini (Brazil) was confirmed as Director of the Cape Town Component for a further period of three years.

“The Board,” commented Dr. Banks, “is also a forum to raise awareness of critical situations faced by the scientific community across the ICGEB constituency, and to validate our actions to promote capacity building and education, to transfer technology and to collaborate with other Organisations.”

The Board welcomed the scientific milestones achieved, as also reported by Sir Richard J. Roberts (USA), Nobel laureate, New England Biolabs, Member of the ICGEB Council of Scientific Advisers, with Governors commenting favourably on the growth in medical technology that is generating transfer of technologies to ICGEB Member States, in establishing biomanufacturing practices, on genome editing of crops, Biopesticides and regulatory science, and the impact of the programmes run and efforts to obtain additional funds to support initiatives.

H.E. Mr. Edmondo Cirielli, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy at the 30th ICGEB Board of Governors

Mr. Marco Rusconi, Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) confirmed the excellent interaction with ICGEB and partner countries in joint programmes, and expressed full support to further enlarge the membership which will help strengthen the Organisation. He encouraged a collective effort to mark the collaboration with Africa through the Mattei Plan for Africa on Food Security Microbial Bioinoculants for sustainable development, which will be financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI).

The Board welcomed Djibouti as the 24th African nation to become a Member, and accepted the request for membership from Ghana.

The audit report for 2023 was presented by Auditor-General of South Africa, while updates on the establishment of ICGEB Regional Research Centres (RRCs) in Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Türkiye were also reported.

The Board next meets in New Delhi in May 2025, to review the ongoing work for science and scientists, and for a sustainable future.

To mark celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the Board, Sir Richard presented a lecture entitled “The World Needs GMOs”.