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Discussion Group 2

Framework for Capacity Needs Assessment

In this discussion group, participants are invited to share their views and suggestions for improving capacity needs assessment under Protocol, including specific changes to the current common format for Capacity-Building Needs Assessment available through the Biosafety Clearing-House. Participants may also wish propose ideas for a new framework for biosafety capacity-building needs assessment, as appropriate.

The process of identification and prioritization of needs is one of the most crucial initial steps in any capacity-building initiative. In order to design and implement strategic demand-driven interventions tailored to the local circumstances, it is important to first undertake a systematic and participatory needs assessment. Engaging in such as assessment would enhance the ability of governments to effectively plan, implement and monitor the capacity-building activities. It would also enable governments to set priorities and ensure effective use of the limited available resources. Furthermore, the needs assessment process would increase awareness among different government agencies, foster identification of opportunties for synergies and complementarities and contribute to enhancing cooperation, coordination, and joint action.

One of the main weaknesses of biosafety capacity-building efforts to date is the limited systematic stocktaking of existing capacities and assessment of capacity needs prior to the development of capacity-building initiatives. Even the few needs assessments that have been carried out have also faced methodological challenges. As noted in the study carried out in 2007 by UNU-IAS and published in a report entitled "Internationally Funded Training in Biotechnology and Biosafety: Is it Bridging the Biotech Divide?", biosafety capacity needs assessments have been properly undertaken in only a few instances. Most needs have been identified in an ad hoc and unfocused way and many assessments have compiled the specific needs through simple checklists (questionnaire with multiple choices of possible needs), which tend to provide leading questions and often result in long of lists of needs that lack prioritisation.

Discussion questions:
  1. What are some of the examples of biosafety capacity needs assessments that have been systematically conducted and documented and where can reports of those assessment be accessed?
  2. What type of needs assessments formats would be most appropriate; multiple choice checklists or open-ended questionnaires?
  3. Is the current self needs assessment using the common format through the BCH effective? If not, what is the alternative approach or how can it be improved?
  4. How often should the needs assessments be carried out; on a rolling basis or periodically every after a defined period of time?
  5. Is it be necessary to carry out global and regional capacity needs assessments? If so, who should carry out such assessments; the CBD Secretariat, international organizations?

This discussion group will be take place for 1 week, from 26 to 30 March 2012 (1:00am GMT).

Background document:
(download the Evaluation report)
PDF or MS Word format.


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