I have a job. Let me tell you a little bit about what I do and what the organization I work for focuses on. It started as an internship in October of 2008 and currently it has transformed into a temporary employment contract with Bioversity International.
Bioversity International is a member, among other 14 centers, of The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) global partnership that focuses on research for sustainable development. The vision of the CGIAR is “to reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience through high-quality international agricultural research, partnership and leadership.” (http://www.cgiar.org) Bioversity International was established as the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) in 1974, merged with the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP) in 1994 and adopted the current name in 2006. Bioversity’s focus is on research of agricultural biodiversity, which includes plant genetic resources, animals and microbes, to improve people’s lives.
This past Monday, I attended 3 presentations during an open session of the Bioversity’s Board of Trustees (BOT36) meeting before a Board Get Together. It was my first time attending the Board Get Together. What made it super interesting and informative are the 3 presentations before the Get Together. I listened to Cristián Samper, a biologist and international authority on environmental policy, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and Bioversity’s board member to talk about “Biodiversity in a rapidly changing world“. After a wonderful inside look into the world of Nutrition and Biodiversity from Bioversity’s PhD Senior Scientist Jessica Fanzo. To close the open session Michael Mackay, Bioversity’s Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator on the GIGA Project, presented a project on a global information portal on plant genetic resources called GENESYS. It was a big eye opening experience on what Bioversity does outside the Finance and Budget Office. I was very impressed! Cristián Samper is an impressive speaker and he definitely captured the crowd with his presentation on Biodiversity. Michael Mackay’s demonstration on GENESYS showed Bioversity’s work that will provide collected knowledge to breeders around the world. The topic on Nutrition that was covered by Jessica Fanzo is something I am personally interested in. Improving maternal health, reducing child morality and eradicating poverty and hunger are on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda to be achieved by 2015. How far away are we from achieving this goal? Decide for yourself (information taken from Jessica Fanzo’s presentation):
• 200 million children are chronically undernourished
• 2 billion people have micronutrient deficiencies
• 60% of child deaths have an underlying cause of poor nutrition
• 1.6 billion people are overweight or obese
Understanding the numbers would translate into spending more money on research, on new programs as well as finding solution to long standing problems such as extreme poverty, conflict and war, diseases and shifting climates. It’s no longer everybody’s business, but nobody’s responsibility. It’s no longer a problem that can be solved with old solutions. To start achieving MDGs agenda, new ideas are needed on a table. Nations and international organizations around the world need to step it up. They need to start working harder not only on policies and regulations, but working together for a greater good of the future generations. Responsibility is individual as well. Don’t just stand there and wait, do something!