Youth Declaration for Biosecurity

Authors: Alexanian, Tessa – Ameneiros, Mayra – Aziz, Fatima – Essix, Gabrielle – Isaac, Christopher – Namdeo, Suryesh K. – Lawal, Maryam S.

The Youth Declaration for Biosecurity is a call-to-action from the next generation of biosecurity professionals to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) community, containing policy recommendations from young leaders to support youth participation in global biosecurity. It was launched in the margins of the BWC Meeting of States Parties in November 2021 and is still open for endorsements.

The Youth Declaration for Biosecurity is a result of the Youth for Biosecurity Initiative, implemented by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) with the support of the European Union (EU) under EU Council Decision 2019/97. Following the Second Edition of the Biosecurity Diplomacy Workshop for Young Scientists from the Global South in 2021, a group of young scientists virtually attended the BWC Meeting of Experts on Review of Developments in the Field of Science and Technology Related to the Convention. Empowered by their newly acquired knowledge on biological risks and the BWC, the youth group decided to develop a set of recommendations to mitigate the threat of biological weapons through active and transformative youth engagement. UNODA provided guidance throughout the process.

The recommendations were subsequently presented and discussed among a coordinated network of initiatives involving youth on responsible science made up of the following organizations: Nuclear Threat Initiative Global Biological Policy and Programs Team  (NTI | bio), the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA), the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation (iGEM), the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (CHS), and the Next Generation Global Health Security Network (NextGen). Contributing to this youth-led process, additional young leaders in biosecurity then joined the drafting committee (see the complete list of authors in the Declaration).

Key recommendations of the Youth Declaration for Biosecurity

→ Introduce a BWC Scientific Advisory Group, including youth representatives

→ Create a clear pipeline for biosecurity career advancement

→ Adopt global ethical guidelines and best practices, including the “Tianjin Biosecurity Guidelines for Codes of Conduct for Scientists

→ Prioritize diversity in youth inclusion

→ Build partnerships linking scientific and policy expertise

→ Standardize biotechnology review and biorisk management involving a robust Biorisk Management System

→ Increase biosafety and biosecurity awareness

→ Build national and regional capacity to rapidly prevent, detect, report, and respond to unusual infectious diseases outbreaks

How to endorse the Youth Declaration for Biosecurity?

As an institution or an individual, you can endorse the Youth Declaration for Biosecurity and contribute to the meaningful participation of youth in efforts to achieve a world free of biological weapons.

If you would like to endorse the Declaration or contact the authors, please fill out this form.

You can watch the side event at the BWC Meeting of States Parties in November 2021  on “The Youth Declaration for Biosecurity: Mobilizing Youth to Strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention” which marked the launch of the Declaration on the BWC Youtube Channel.