On March 25, the FAPESP Research Program on Biodiversity Characterization, Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use (BIOTA) began a process of public consultation on its strategic plan for the next eight years. The document, entitled BIOTA 2030 (in portuguese) , was presented during an online event, which can be watched on Agência FAPESP’s YouTube channel.
BIOTA’s steering committee drafted the strategic action plan on the basis of a series of eight events held in 2020 to review the program’s achievements to date, especially the results of research projects funded by FAPESP.
According to steering committee member Jean Paul Metzger, the draft plan as presented links these discussions with the scientific community in 2020 to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations and the new international biodiversity accords currently being negotiated.
“Biodiversity has increasingly been understood as part of the solution and as an instrument for society to effect sustainable transitions,” Metzger said. “These are the elements we looked for in our strategic planning.”
Continuous participation by the academic community in the construction of the program was one of the points emphasized by Luiz Eugênio Mello, Scientific Director of FAPESP. “It’s most important for the scientific community to feel that it’s a co-author of this document. The discussions held in 2020 and the public consultation enable the community to participate in this construction, creating a feedback system that contributes actively to the realization of the overall objectives of BIOTA,” he said.
The importance of collaboration and co-production of knowledge was also stressed by Lúcia Lohmann, of the University of São Paulo’s Institute of Biosciences (IB-USP), and Eduardo Brondízio, of Indiana University in the United States. Both researchers were invited to take part in the event held to present the plan.
“The transparency of the process and the participatory approach adopted for the production of this strategic plan are highly significant indicators of how mature BIOTA has become, and of its desire to engage the scientific community in the process of joint construction of strategies and working priorities for the coming decade,” Lohmann said.
Brondízio noted that over time the program has set scientific priorities as guidance for the community, while standardizing approaches, creating a shared infrastructure and new research communities, and expanding its thematic, geographic and political scope in step with growing demand.
“The strategic plan reflects this evolution well and points to the new frontiers that are part of this process of development for a program like BIOTA, ensuring that biodiversity dialogues with broader issues,” he said. “In addition, a strategic plan like this can be a driver of more diverse and inclusive science.”
The draft plan is organized around five key thematic areas: “Discovery”, “Collections”, “Synthesis”, “Transformation”, and “Entrepreneurship”. The first two correspond to research lines developed since the start of the program and are seen as supporting the other priority areas.
“Discovery” comprises research conducted with the aim of understanding the ecological functions relating to both maintenance of biodiversity and changes in biodiversity throughout the evolutionary process. “Collections” consists of research based on biological collections and geared to mechanisms for maintaining, diversifying, expanding and improving access to these collections.
“Synthesis” will promote collaborative synthesis science and stimulate new ideas, approaches and solutions relating to the understanding, conservation or use of biodiversity. One of its emphases will be an activity important to BIOTA since its inception: facilitating collaboration and networking by a new generation of researchers.
“Transformation” will entail expanding knowledge about the role of biodiversity as a key factor in the transition to sustainable social and ecological systems. The challenges to be faced in this area include diffusing socio-environmental governance practices, facilitating decision-making on policies, projects, scenarios and communication strategies, and co-producing knowledge with society to cope with social and environmental crises.
“Entrepreneurship” will focus on identifying and promoting opportunities for innovation in bioproducts and ecosystem services. The actions proposed for this area include stimulating the creation of innovation projects, improving the links among sectors of the innovation chain, and promoting an entrepreneurial culture.
Contributions to BIOTA 2030 can be submitted until April 29, using the form available at: forms.gle/DMo3zEv5TSTQNhMi7.
(This article was first published at Agência Fapesp – https://agencia.fapesp.br/public-consultation-opens-on-biota-fapesps-strategic-plan-for-next-eight-years/38369/ )