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BLOG: The IPPC Implementation and Capacity Development Committee (IC): Taking stock of (almost) six years of activities

Posted on Thu, 23 Feb 2023, 12:05

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By Dominique Pelletier, IC Chair

As the Implementation and Capacity Development Committee (IC) is about to enter its third term, I thought it would be fitting to look back and reflect on the achievements of the Committee, as well as consider the future of implementation and capacity development (ICD) activities in the IPPC community.

I remember that, immediately after its establishment in 2017, the IC inherited the work of previously existing IPPC bodies (Capacity Development Committee, National Reporting Obligations Advisory Group, Triennial Review Group and Subsidiary Body on Dispute Settlement) involved in ICD, and that taking stock of all the existing projects and prioritizing them was a daunting task that took much of its first year of existence.

I am, however, pleased to report that the IC rapidly became a very functional committee able to take the measure of the mandate entrusted to it by the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) while producing quality material to aid contracting parties with implementing the Convention.

One of the raison d’être of the IC is to develop guides and training materials. This is an inclusive process done in collaboration with national plant protection organizations (NPPOs) and regional plant protection organizations (RPPOs) which can submit comments on the specifications to ensure that the materials developed provide technical added value and are applicable on a global scale. They can also contribute to this particular work by providing expertise and/or financial contribution to aid with hosting Experts Working Groups meetings. Many such products have been produced since the inception of the IC. In 2022 alone, four e-learning courses on inspection, pest risk analysis, surveillance, export certification were developed and published. These will undoubtedly contribute to enhancing the knowledge of NPPO staff and stakeholders in those specific fields of plant health activities. In addition, work is still underway to develop guides that will address the implementation issues we face, such as emerging pests on Fusarium Tropical Race 4, wood packaging material and e-Commerce.

Another major accomplishment is the development of the Phytosanitary System component pages in the IPPC website or the International Phytosanitary Portal that bring standards, guides, eLearning and other resources on the same page. Sorted by themes, these webpages include resources on pest surveillance, pest risk analysis, systems approach, inspection and others. These online resources give NPPOs access to all relevant information available – all in one location – to support their activities. I cannot wait to see them being used by the IPPC community and welcome your feedback!

I would also like to note that work is progressing well for the digitization of tools contributing to ICD. Recently, the list of ICD topics, the Framework for Standards and Implementation and the list of topics for the IPPC Observatory have evolved from paper format to searchable databases. These different databases greatly facilitate access to topics of interest and follow their evolution.

The impact of the Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE) on IPPC implementation remains very important as it allows countries to strengthen the various components of the phytosanitary system. This can be done by involving stakeholders to develop a national phytosanitary capacity development strategy to address identified weaknesses and even to revise phytosanitary legislation so that they align with the IPPC and the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement. I am pleased to report that the IC Team on PCE will be supporting a study in the coming months, which will include interviews with different stakeholders to better understand the needs of the IPPC community and determine where improvements can be made to further improve the tool and its use.

The transition from the Implementation Review and Support System (IRSS) to the IPPC Observatory is also progressing well. We have been working hard to make it a tool that is more focused to better respond to the IPPC Community’s needs for reliable data on the global implementation of the IPPC, adopted International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) and also provide detailed data topics of interest through the IPPC Observatory studies. This evaluation system, which was approved last year by CPM-16, aims to support NPPOs to identify challenges and best practices in implementation. The Observatory has initiated a collaboration with Codex and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) Observatory to share experiences and identify synergies.

While significant achievements have been made in IPPC implementation and capacity development, there are still challenges ahead. One of the most important is the access to resources to develop or revise the guides and training materials as well as supporting contracting parties’ capacity development. Another concern of mine is the stabilization of the IPPC Implementation Facilitation Unit (IFU), which crucially needs to be able to retain its expertise to deliver on its mandate. I, however, remain quite confident that these issues can be overcome, and that the IC will continue to play a key role in supporting the IPPC community to improve the level of implementation of the Convention and thus, contribute to preventing the introduction and spread of plant pests and promote safe trade.

Progress and plans in the IPPC Secretariat’s implementation and capacity development efforts will be presented at the 17th session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM), IPPC’s governing body, on 27-31 March. CPM-17 will gather IPPC’s 184 contracting parties, 10 regional plant protection organizations, observers and partners to take stock of the collective progress of the CPM Bureau, subsidiary bodies and the IPPC Secretariat towards achieving the strategic objectives in the IPPC Strategic Framework 2020-2030.

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