The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Eighth Review Conference has been taking place in Geneva (7-25 November 2016). Earlier this year, the IAP Biosecurity Working Group produced a report on the 'Implications of advances in science and technology' aimed at informing deliberations at this conference, and hosted a roundtable that resulted in a second report, ‘Considerations for a science advisory mechanism'. A major goal of the BTWC 8th Review Conference is to decide on a more formal science advice process for the BTWC, and these two IAP reports have fed into that process.
As BTWC policymakers and scientists debate a more formal, systemic mechanism for science advice, they are also keen to learn from other processes, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In a side event at the Conference this month, Jo Husbands (NAS), Tracey Elliott (IAP) and Liz Bohm (Royal Society) highlighted IAP's new project on the SDGs, its BTWC S&T trends analysis report and related work, as well as inter-academy initiatives on genome editing.
Attended by over 20 policymakers and scientists, the side event served to demonstrate the long-running contribution that IAP has made to a highly sensitive and politicised BTWC agenda, and the potential for sharing good practice in other policy areas. With BTWC agendas reflected in SDGs 3, 9, 16 and 17 (on 'Good health and wellbeing', 'Industry, innovation and infrastructure', 'Peace, justice and strong institutions', and 'Partnerships for the Goals', respectively) there are likely to be opportunities for synergy between these two major IAP workstreams.