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Posted on Thu, 18 Mar 2021, 10:08

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©FAO/ Soliman Ahmed

Rome, 16 March 2021. In spite of the global health crisis, the Implementation and Capacity Development Committee (IC) has achieved a lot and has continued to fulfill its mandate, which were recognized in the decisions of the fifteenth Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM-15).

“It has been repeated many times already, but these are no ordinary times! The COVD-19 pandemic has disrupted the way we live, how we interact with each other, and the way that we conduct our day to day work activities”, said the newly elected IC Chairperson, Mr Dominique Pelletier, when presenting the work of the IC during CPM-15. “The Implementation and Capacity Development Committee is not immune to this”, he added.

Since November 2019, failing to be able to hold in person two scheduled IC meetings in May and November 2020, the Committee has held a series of virtual meetings to move forward on specific Implementation and Capacity Development (ICD) topics. Despite the new modality, these virtual meetings allowed the committee to develop three proposals for implementation plans for guides and training materials, elect a new IC Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, welcome six new IC members, conduct a thorough review of the list of ICD topics, and approve the work plans for IC Sub-groups.

“The IC met once every month, to sometimes once every week, to deliver its program. While we made sure to rotate the meeting schedule to share the load, we nevertheless had to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to participate to those meetings. In my home organization, we started to call this experiencing the joy of jet-lag in the comfort of your own house”, admitted Mr Pelletier while saluting the dedication of the IC members who took active part in the IC virtual meetings despite multiple constraints and challenges.

The CPM-15 highlighted the importance of capacity development activities under the oversee of the IC, such as the Global plant health surveillance programme, the Implementation Review and Support System (IRSS), e-Commerce, and the conduct of Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE).

Noting that currently five countries have started to conduct PCEs virtually, the CPM also agreed that the PCE is a useful tool to help evaluate and develop national phytosanitary capacities, whose importance was stressed by contracting parties during the CPM discussion. The Commission also took into account the proposal of the IPPC Secretariat to shift the IRSS from a system driven by a project to one driven by the IPPC Community with a long-term work plan that will be funded by multiple donors. This decision will contribute to make the IRSS more inclusive and more sustainable.

As one of the key development agenda items of the newly adopted IPPC Strategic Framework 2020-2030, e-Commerce is amongst the new frontiers to be addressed in the next decade. The effective management of e-Commerce and other postal and courier pathways is crucial to prevent the spread of pests and diseases to new territories, especially now as the pandemic-induced restrictions and lockdowns have increased the volume of goods traded via the internet dramatically. CPM-15 noted the important progressions made by the IPPC Secretariat in the e-Commerce program over the past two years. The establishment of an informal network of e-Commerce experts, strengthened collaboration with other key international organizations, and the advanced status of a new IPPC e-Commerce guide for plants, plant products and other regulated articles are among the key advancements in this area.

In summary, the quantity and variability of achievements and ongoing activities undertaken by the IC shows how much the committee successfully adapted to this new virtual environment, in spite of the challenges and constraints.

Contracting parties can now find useful resources and information on surveillance, inspection, pest reporting and many other components of a phytosanitary system at this link: https://www.ippc.int/en/core-activities/capacity-development/phytosanitary-system/

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