Al-Zeyoudi: Biosecurity and biosafety are key issues at the national and global levels
Dubai-UAE: 23 October, 2017: The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) today launched the two-day UAE 3rd Biosecurity Conference in Dubai, drawing the participation of sector-specific national and global thought leaders.
During his opening remarks, His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Chairman of the National Committee of Biosecurity, said: “The conference has been convened at a time when there is an urgent need to accelerate efforts to achieve the objectives of the National Biosecurity Strategy and build an integrated biosecurity system that contributes to strengthening the National Security System. We also need to promote the UAE globally as a safe environment to live in and work, in line with the vision of our wise leadership led by the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”
His Excellency pointed out: “Biosecurity and biosafety are key issues at the national and global levels. The scientific and technical developments rolled out through the past few decades in all fields, the development of related science and knowledge, and the easy transfer of biological agents as a result of the evolution of international transport and trade have led to increased fears of biological accidents, incidentally or intentionally.”
The Minister stressed that the UAE has been prioritizing biosecurity in the field of agriculture and animal production due to several factors, including: the growing importance of the country as a strategic hub in the field of transport and international trade, its dependence on imported agricultural and animal products, as well as its ambitious plans to increase local production through diversification and development of agricultural and animal resources to narrow the food gap.
His Excellency added: “The UAE continues its efforts to strengthen controls and measures needed to face the challenges associated with these factors. It has enhanced the technical and human capabilities in the agricultural and veterinary quarantines that represent the basic line of defence against biological risks and developed quarantine measures in accordance with best international practices. Our attention is not limited to the control of border crossings, but extends to include local production activities as well.”
Al-Zeyoudi further said: “The UAE has established highly qualified national laboratories with global accreditation to detect biological agents and develop guidelines in the area of risk analysis. It has a broad interest in the development of mechanisms for the exchange of information at the national level through the National Food Safety Committee and at the international level through relevant international organizations, primarily FAO, OIE and WHO.
The National Biosecurity Committee and its sub-committees have intensified their efforts to achieve its objectives by building on the successes realized so far, and integrating them into a comprehensive and integrated national framework to strengthen capacities for addressing biological hazards of various types. The Committee has reviewed and revised existing biosecurity legislation and identified gaps to be addressed. It has also completed the development of the Biosafety Manual and the Laboratory Biosafety Manual and the development of the policy on the use of biological agents in research and scientific experiments.
The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is working to complete the electronic notification system that links the Ministry with its partners in the government sector to facilitate the exchange of information and rapid response to incidents and emergencies related to biosecurity. In addition, the Ministry has organized a series of workshops to build and develop the capabilities of workers in the field of biosafety.
The UAE 3rd Biosecurity Conference reviewed the most important of these efforts, which are key to achieving the three main objectives of the National Biosecurity Strategy adopted by the Cabinet in 2013, namely, reducing the risk of biological agents, building capacities for detecting biological hazards and dealing with biological accidents and threats.
The conference was divided into five working sessions and panel discussions on a range of topics of local and global importance. The topics included the role of international organizations in promoting and building physical and human capacities in biosecurity at the civil and military level, review of developments in the global and regional levels regarding infectious diseases, and pest control in the agricultural and animal fields, the need to implement international health regulations to address biosecurity challenges and the importance of developing relief programs and technical support for countries with serious biological threats.