The After iGEM Delegate Program gives iGEMers the opportunity to attend key international meetings and be part of the global conversation on synthetic biology.
Synthetic biology, has become a main agenda item in International Policy Meetings, including United Nations Conferences. Whether addressing biodiversity, health & medicine, biosafety and biosecurity, it is important to bring scientists closer to policy makers and to encourage new voices to join the debate. Through the After iGEM Delegate Program, iGEM strives to include iGEMers in the key policy discussions, while maintaining the same values taught in the iGEM Competition, which include integrity, respect, honesty, and cooperation. This program will also help students develop a sense of responsibility as synthetic biologists to learn about the treaties and protocols that would impact their future work.
iGEM is the largest community of synthetic biologists in the world, and consists of some of the most confident, talented, and motivated young minds in the field. Our delegates exemplify these qualities and are essential to our successful participation at these policy meetings. As part of the iGEM Competition, iGEM students must actively consider the impact of their projects and work with their community as part of their project design process. The iGEM Delegates bring a unique voice to the conversation, enthusiasm to share their knowledge, and an eagerness to learn.
So far, iGEM has attended the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Biological Weapons Convention. In both meetings, iGEMers had the opportunity to attend plenary sessions, talk to their countries’ delegations, and share their knowledge about synthetic biology.
UN Biodiversity Conference
The United Nations Biodiversity Conference has three main objectives: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity and the fair use of genetic resources. It discusses the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), including the Nagoya and Cartagena protocols, key supplementary agreements that strive for biodiversity conservation and the safe and fair use of genetic resources.
The iGEM Foundation has attended 2 UN Biodiversity Conferences to date:
COP 13, Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico
December 2 - 17, 2016
Over 7,000 participants from 170 countries and over 400 organizations came together to combine efforts to protect biodiversity on a global scale. Representatives from the iGEM Foundation along with a group of 5 iGEM Delegates attended the 13th Conference of the Parties to be part of the international conversation regarding synthetic biology.
Learn more about what was discussed by visiting: iGEM at the UN Biodiversity Conference
COP 14, Sharm El Sheikh Conference Center, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) was attended by around 3,800 participants representing the 196 parties to the Convention, international organizations, indigenous communities, and academics. iGEM's Delegation for this meeting included one iGEM Foundation representative, and 4 iGEM Delegates selected through the Delegate Program.
Biological Weapons Convention
The Biological Weapons Convention is a legally binding treaty that outlawed the development, production, and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons. It came into force in 1975, and now has 172 States Parties and 9 Signatory States. States that are party to the Convention meet periodically to discuss the implementation of the Convention.
Palace of Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
December 4-8, 2017
The 2017 edition of the Meeting of the State Parties to the Convention on Biological Weapons was attended by 116 States Parties to the Convention, plus 2 non-signed and 2 non-ratified states, as well as other United Nations branches and organizations. The Convention also welcomed 36 non-governmental organizations and research institutes, and among them was the iGEM Foundation represented by a Delegation of 5 iGEM Delegates and 3 staff members from the iGEM Foundation.
Other potential meetings
- The World Health Assembly to discuss the potential use of synthetic biology in the field of medicine.
- The Sustainable Development Goals Day to showcase the potential of synthetic biology and iGEM to create a better and more sustainable future for all.
Delegates after the program
- Ediner Fuentes (CBD 2016) became part of his country’s official Delegation. He represented Panama in Convention of Biological Diversity in 2018.
- Pablo Vargas (CBD 2016) is now pursuing a master’s degree at ETH Zurich.
- Janis Schleusner, Chris Isaac, and Tessa Alexanian (all BWC 2017) are now crucial members of the iGEM Safety and Security Committee.
- Tessa Alexanaian (BWC 2017) is also an executive member of the iGEM Human Practices Committee and received the best new rookie judge award at the 2018 Giant Jamboree.
- Ronit Langer (BWC 2017) was an invited speaker guest at the Geneva Dialogues on Securing our Common Future. She was also a North American Ambassador in the After iGEM Ambassador program in 2019, and is now the After iGEM Ambassador Program Coordinator for 2020.
How can I get involved?
Are you an iGEMer looking for an opportunity? Know of a policy meeting that iGEM should be represented at? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know! Or join the iGEM Network to be notified first of exclusive opportunities just for iGEMers.