Apply for the 2024 Youth for Biosecurity Fellowship

An online interactive training and a field visit in Geneva for the next generation of biosecurity leaders from the Global South


The global norm against biological weapons cannot be maintained without youth voices  being  included  in the multilateral discussions taking place in the framework of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Youth perspectives are key to create innovative solutions and generate long-term engagement. There are particular benefits to including the perspectives of young people from developing countries, where most of the world’s youth is concentrated.

Organized by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs in Geneva in partnership with key international actors empowering youth in science diplomacy and global biosecurity, the Youth for Biosecurity Fellowship provides a unique learning and networking experience into multilateral discussions taking place in the framework of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva.

Launched in 2019 as a Biosecurity Diplomacy Workshop, the Youth for Biosecurity Initiative organized its first fellowship in 2023. For the second edition, the fellowship will provide the opportunity for 20 young scientists from the Global South to join an online interactive training programme prior to a field visit during the meeting of the BWC Working Group on the Strengthening of the Convention in Geneva.

The Fellowship aims at allowing young biosecurity leaders from the Global South to:

  • Learn & lead -> deepen your expertise in biosecurity and disarmament to build leadership skills
  • Think & act -> engage in discussions with senior experts and make your voice heard in the margins of multilateral disarmament meetings
  • Engage with community -> connect with young experts, join an international youth network and enjoy a space for dialogue between young scientists and BWC practitioners including diplomats and experts.

Learn more about the Youth for Biosecurity Initiative

Do you have specific questions? Read our FAQs below

Check out below if you can be a candidate and APPLY before 5 April 2024

Who can apply?

To be eligible to apply, prospective fellows must:

Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply. The selection process will be guided by the need to ensure the highest quality of participants while maintaining a gender and regional balance.

Join the Youth for Biosecurity Fellowship if you…

  • Are passionate about and have experience in biosafety, biosecurity, disarmament and non-proliferation or youth involvement and want to understand your key role against the misuse of biological agents
  • Are willing to learn more about the Biological Weapons Convention and its critical role for disarmament and health security
  • Believe that young people can be a force for positive change and want to play an active and forward-looking role in building a more peaceful and secure world
  • Want to get an insider view into how science diplomacy happens in multilateral disarmament meetings

Programme overview

The Fellowship runs over a 3-month period and requires a minimal time commitment to accommodate fellows’ work or academic schedules. Activities include:

  • An Online Biosecurity Diplomacy Workshop from 5 June to 5 July 2024 with approximately one session (two to three hours) per week
  • A collaborative project to prepare in July 2024 and to be presented at the BWC Working Group on the Stengthening of the Convention in August 2024
  • An online briefing on the Working Group on the Strengthening of the Convention in July/August 2024
  • A five-day field visit in Geneva from 19 to 23 August 2024 during the meetings of the BWC Working Group on the Strengthening of the Convention

Your commitment as a Youth for Biosecurity fellow

  • Participate in all online sessions and in the field visit [the fellows are responsible for obtaining the relevant authorizations from their employer or universities].
  • Engage actively in all the Fellowship’s activities – the Fellowship is an interactive and participative experience and relies on the fellows’ active participation
  • Make time in your schedule to adequately prepare for all sessions and discussions – the course will be fairly intensive and prior preparation will be key to the fellows’ active participation.

Here is what you will benefit from:

  • Fully funded visit to Geneva during the Meeting of the Working Group on the strengthening of the Convention
  • One month of pre-Working Group online workshop in the lead up to the field visit
  • Small group interactions with leading experts in disarmament and nonproliferation, biosecurity, biosafety, and health security
  • Opportunities to meet, collaborate and network with fellow young scientists, diplomats, experts, civil society organizations and other international youth-driven networks
  • Be part of a growing network of early-career professional in biosecurity

All applicants must provide all requested documents and information listed on the application page (link to application page)

What do our Youth for Biosecurity Alumni say about their experience?

Frequently asked questions

What exactly does the Fellowship include?

The Fellowship is structured in two parts:

 i) An online interactive training programme featuring experts’ presentations, interactive discussions, and networking/mentoring sessions. Seven virtual sessions will introduce participants to the Biological Weapons Convention, science diplomacy, science and technology review in the life science, dual use research of concern, among others. Fellows will need a computer and a good Wi-Fi connection.

ii) A field visit to Geneva during the week of the Working Group on the Strengthening of the Convention including attendance to the BWC official meetings, leadership skills training, expert dialogues, private institutional visits, meetings with diplomats and the organization of public events to stimulate engagement and reflection on global biosecurity and youth engagement. The Fellows’ travel and stay in Geneva will be funded for the duration of the visit in line with UN rules and regulations.

Who are the Fellowship partners?

Organized by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, the Youth for Biosecurity Fellowship brings together a well-established network of civil society entities and youth-led networks which have for many years led well-established initiatives to empower and connect the next generations of leaders in the biosecurity community, including:  the IFBA Global Mentorship Programme, the iGEM Competitions, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Emerging  Leaders  in  Biosecurity  Fellowship and the NTI  Next  Generation  for Biosecurity  Competition.

UNODA also partnered with Global Health Security Fund (GHS Fund), a Geneva-based nonprofit association that supports impact investment in global health security innovations. In addition of sponsoring a number of fellows, GHS Fund brings to the Fellowship a proven experience in global health entrepreneurship skills and career accelerator training. 

Fellows will have the opportunity to engage with other youth-led networks and interact with our partners. 

Can I apply if I am an undergraduate student?

Yes. We believe in the value of youth perspectives in global biosecurity diplomacy and are looking to select a diverse group of young scientists from the Global South representing different sub age groups. If you are an undergraduate student with proven experience and interest in areas relevant to the Fellowship, we encourage you to apply.

Will the Fellowship require much homework?

The Fellowship requires a minimal time commitment to accommodate fellows’ work or academic schedules. It will require the fellows to make time for preparing the sessions, discussions and activities

Will I need a visa do travel to Geneva?

All eligible nationalities (low- or middle-income BWC State Party) are welcome to apply.  Invitation letters to accompany visa requests to travel to Switzerland will be issued by UNODA to participants upon request.

This programme is supported by the European Union, the Global Health Security Fund, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Swiss Confederation: