The 2020 Innovations Dialogue
Life Sciences, International Security and Disarmament
The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) is pleased to invite you to the 2020 Innovations Dialogue. How are innovations in the life sciences impacting international security and disarmament? What governance gaps exist in the life sciences, and what new, if any, multilateral governance instruments are needed to address dual-use technologies? How can emerging technologies and advances be effectively (or appropriately) addressed in disarmament agendas?
This year the Innovations Dialogue will explore how scientific and technological advances in the life sciences can offer new ways to address global challenges, such as the spread of infectious diseases, and pose new threats related to the development of biological weapons. Specifically, the Dialogue will explore how particular advances – gene editing techniques, cloud labs and the rise of DIY bio community, and nanobiotechnology – are revolutionizing tools for the potential creation, production and delivery of biological weapons. The Dialogue will also examine the challenges that dual-use innovations and trends in the life sciences present for current multilateral governance and arms control frameworks.
WHEN & WHERE:
20 August 13:30 (CET) and 21 August 9:30 (CET), Online
UNIDIR encourages the participation of representatives and experts working on or interested in issues pertaining to the implications of scientific and technological advances in the life sciences for international peace and security.
Please register here. Please note that the link to access the virtual Dialogue will be provided by email only to registered participants one week prior to the event.
For questions please contact Alisha Anand (firstname.lastname@example.org).
20 AUGUST 2020
- 1330-1345: Welcome and opening remarks
- 1345-1415: Keynote Address – Mitigating Risks, Harnessing Benefits and Demystifying Myths of Innovation in the Life Sciences
- 1415-1430: Break
- 1430-1530: Creation – Gene-editing /CRISPR
- This session will give participants an introduction to gene-editing technologies, particularly CRISPR, and explore their risks and benefits while demystify myths about their potential applications. What is gene editing? How does it work? What are its revolutionary beneficial applications, and what risks does it present for international security and arms control? How are advances in gene-editing technology expanding the tool-box for the potential creation of biological weapons? How realistic are the risks of misuse?
- 1530-1545: Break
- 1545-1645: Production – Cloud Labs and DIY Labs
- This session will give participants an understanding of the evolving R&D landscape with emerging innovations such as cloud labs and emerging actors such as the DIY BIO community that are democratizing and accelerating the design-build-test cycle in biotechnology. The session will explore the opportunities and risks presented by ease of doing R&D in biotechnology enabled by cloud and DIY labs. How realistic are the risks of misuse? What regulatory challenges are they creating for existing treaties and governance frameworks and what are the appropriate responses to these challenges?
- 1645-1700: Concluding remarks
21 AUGUST 2020
- 0930-0945: Welcome and housekeeping
- 0945-1045: Delivery – Nanobiotechnology Applications for Delivery
- This session will give participants an introduction to nanotechnology-enhanced delivery methods for the life sciences and explore its risks and benefits while demystify myths about its potential applications. What is nanobiotechnology? What are its dual-use applications for delivery? How are advances in nanobiotechnology augmenting existing biological weapons delivery methods? How realistic are the risks of misuse?
- 1045-1100: Innovations Debrief – Insights and Open Questions for Disarmament and Arms Control
- The session will summarize key highlights and take-aways regarding specific innovations that are affecting the potential creation, production and delivery of biological weapons. It will also raise questions for ongoing multilateral arms control and disarmament processes.
- 1100-1130: Break
- 1130-1245: Panel – Multilateral Governance of Innovation, Science & Tech in the Life Sciences
- The panel will explore governance gaps in the life sciences. What new, if any, governance instruments are needed to address dual-use technologies? How can existing ones adapt to fill these gaps? Given the emergence of new actors in the R&D landscape, is a multi-stakeholder approach to governance desirable and feasible? How can these stakeholders be brought into governance frameworks?
- 1245-1300: Break
- 1300-1400: Panel – Multilateral Governance in Action: Channeling Reflections into Multilateral Agendas
- An open moderated session that will reflect on how existing multilateral processes have thought about governance of innovation, science & tech in the life sciences. How should these ideas be put to action? What are the obstacles and what are the pathways forward?
- 1400-1415: Closing remarks