Science and Economics

Task Force and Technical Subgroup

Native species of honeycreepers are facing elimination on Hawaiian islands as the range of avian diseases expands with warming temperatures Photo: D. Hutcheson

The Task Force will undertake a series of activities, divided into three parts: a broad scientific and policy assessment, engagement activities with the IUCN Members through the Regional Conservation Forums  complemented by consultations with international institutions and processes that are currently grappling with synthetic biology issues, and the development of an IUCN policy. 

In addition, a Technical Subgroup will complete a publishable paper based on a broad assessment of the current state of science and policy around genomic technologies to identify potential applications and products that might impact conservation and the sustainable use of biological diversity, both negatively and positively. While this exercise will incorporate synthetic biology and gene drives (as required by Resolution WCC-2016-Res-086), it will not limit itself to those terms as the technology underlying them changes rapidly.  The assessment will consider the potential impacts of synthetic biology on biodiversity, both positive and negative, as well as broader impacts on planetary systems and human social and economic structures. Social, economic, cultural and ethical considerations associated with the use of such technology will also be evaluated. 

Membership selection process and criteria

Task Force and Technical Subgroup members were proposed by the IUCN Secretariat (via the Office of the Chief Scientist) and IUCN Commissions (via Commission Chairs). This list was complemented with members chosen by the Task Force Chair in consultation with experts in the field. The Chair of the Task Force was responsible for final selection. The Chair will oversee both the Task Force as well as the Technical Subgroup.

Selection criteria:

  • Technical knowledge
  • Policy development experience
  • Geographic and cultural representation
  • Gender balance
  • Participation of IUCN Council members, Commissions, and Members
  • Group dynamic and size

Terms of Reference:

Statement of Principles

Recognising the complexity and large positive and negative potential impacts of the subject, both on and beyond the global conservation community, the groups will draw on the values and proven processes of the IUCN to provide a shared and trusted resource for subsequent deliberations.

In preparing the Assessment on behalf of the IUCN membership, the Technical Sub-group will strive to adhere to the principles of:

Objectivity – assessing evidence and working to minimize and balance subjective bias;
Inclusivity – recognising and being considerate of the full diversity of views and interests;
Robustness – ensuring that all conclusions drawn are based on  clear reasoning;
Humanity – interacting with all interested parties in a respectful and honest manner;
Transparency –the process applied and all final outputs arising from it will be open access;
Consultation – giving meaningful opportunities for all interested parties to engage with the process, and responding to all formal submissions.

In preparing the draft policy on behalf of the IUCN Council, the Task Force will strive to adhere to the same principles. However, although all views and interests will be considered in developing the policy, not all will necessarily be reflected in the final draft.

Our work is all conducted under the umbrella of the IUCN Commission Code of Conduct and the IUCN Secretariat Code of Conduct 

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