GenRes Bridge workshop

Sílvia Pérez-Espona attended two GenRes Bridge (Genetic resources for a food-secure and forested Europe) workshops as representative of IUCN’s CGSG and the CryoArks project. GenRes Bridge is an EU-funded project with the main objective to develop an integrated strategy and a framework for the crop, forest and animal genetic resources domains. The two back-to-back workshops took place in Tuusala (Finland) between 28th-31st of October 2019 and were organised by project partners from Luke and NIBIO.
A market place on the bridge. In this photograph, Silvia is depicted in the 'market place on the bridge' activity organised to meet participants | @ E.Hermanowicz/EUFORGEN

Strategies and approaches workshop

The first workshop (28th-30th October) was aimed to bring together project partners and stakeholders from 57 organisations to build bridges between the different communities. A total of 21 EU countries and five neighbouring countries were represented by 74 participants achieving a broad representation of expertise on the conservation of genetic resources. The workshop was run by a professional moderator from Process Change with the aid of some of the project partners in order to have an interactive and participatory workshop that encouraged the exchange of ideas and opinions between the participants as well as to offer opportunities for contribution from all participants. 

The main objectives of this workshop included: 

1) the sharing of current strategies and programmes so gaps, overlaps, and synergies between different domains could be identified; 
2) the presentation of an overview of the current policies related to crops, animal, and forest genetic resources, as well as those related to biodiversity; 
3) the identification of elements that could contribute to the development of an integrated conservation strategy of genetic resources in Europe. 

The interactive and participatory nature of the workshop proved beneficial to establish trust and willingness of collaboration between participants from different communities and agreement with a set of recommendations for progressing towards an integrated strategy.

Discussion in groups. In this photograph is depicted one of the activities conducted in small groups of participants | @ E.Hermanowicz/EUFORGEN

These recommendations were as follows:

• To strengthen collaboration between the different conservation genetic resources domains while acknowledging and respecting differences and focusing on common objectives.

• To develop a joint communication strategy would be beneficial for increasing awareness of the values and importance of conserving genetic resources.

• To strengthen the importance of the conservation of genetic resources in climate-related policies.

• To recognise the complementarity of ‘in-situ’ and ‘ex-situ’ conservation measures, as well as improved the link between them.

• To improve the main genetic resources terminology across the different domains and enhance of its use in each of the domains.

• To extend the pan-European conservation strategy to neighbouring countries.

Interview exercise. In this photograph is depicted one of the activities conducted in larger groups, in this case, an interview to highlight the importance of the conservation of genetic resources and an integrated approach for this conservation | @ M.Bozzano/EUFORGEN

Demonstration cases workshop

The second workshop took place on the 30th-31st of October and was attended by 19 participants that included project partners and stakeholders. This workshop aimed to discuss the preparation of demonstration cases that would showcase the integrated strategy for the conservation and management of genetic resources, and how this can take place using landscape as a conservation unit. A range of presentations highlighted different locations and geographical areas that could be used as demonstration cases. These included Lebanon/Fertile Crescent, the Iberian Peninsula/Pyrenees, and Norway. The demonstration cases are intended to highlight regional identity, patrimonial value, and sustainable use of genetic resources. These cases will also highlight the fragility of these areas and their reliance on protection and management of valuable genetic resources. The demonstrations cases will also provide recommendations on how we can mitigate threats and contingency plans for the conservation of genetic resources.

Participants of the workshop. Group photograph of all participants to the first GenRes Bridge workshop | @ M.Bozzano/EUFORGEN