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Doing It Together science: D4.1 Initial Policy Briefs

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DITOs initial policy briefs focus on two themes: Biodesign and environmental sustainability.
The initial brief on environmental sustainability focuses on BioBlitz, an increasingly common citizen science methodology. A BioBlitz is an event during which members of the public, professional scientists and voluntary naturalists work together to record as many species as possible within a delimited geographical area over a defined time period. The topic of this policy brief is the field of biodiversity covering a wide range of policy and research areas including biodiversity conservation (e.g., species and protected areas), invasive alien species, coastal and marine management, and strategies for public engagement. The purpose of the policy brief is to synthesise evidence of the use of this methodology, highlight the valuable contribution it makes to public engagement, science, environmental management and policy, and explore how these potentials of the BioBlitz methodology can be enhanced by increasing cross-boundary exchange of experience and cooperation.
The initial brief on biodesign focuses on a particular area of biodesign known as Do It Yourself Biotechnology (DIYBio). The application of design methodologies on biotechnology has greatly reduced the required means and resources to participate, which has led to the establishment of a worldwide movement of enthusiasts working with biotechnology in informal settings. For example, the tools and materials for doing genetic engineering, molecular diagnostics or tissue culturing are affordable enough for individuals to use. The purpose of the policy brief is to describe the implications and potential understandings of this phenomenon; in particular how the relationship between formal and informal biotechnology could lead the way to a more open, inclusive and responsible sector.
Both policy briefs are informed by initial fact finding and review work (WP4T1) of good practices and policy guidelines, based on which scope and potential contributors have been identified. A community-oriented approach was then chosen for determining the specific topics of each brief and elaborating the content. The BioBlitz policy brief has been developed as collaborative process by a newly founded ECSA working group on BioBlitz that brings together organisers of such activities from around the world. The DIYBio policy brief has been elaborated in dialogue with DIYBio practitioners. Contributions were collected via the DITOs stakeholder round tables in Berlin and Paris, 20 videos submitted by DIY science practitioners from around Europe, via responses to the 7 vlogs published in the DITOs YouTube channel, and other DITOs events. As external review a draft version of the policy brief was presented and discussed at a practitioner conference. Within this process, the initial topic of regulations has been modified to focus more broadly on the various potentials of DIYBio for research, innovation and education.
This deliverable concludes the successful first stage of WP4 based on key achievements regarding the elaboration of guidelines, mechanisms and institutions to facilitate policy engagement for RRI as well as internal consolidation of project workflows. Future briefs (M24 and M36) will further expand this work on the themes of biodesign and environmental sustainability and will address in detail the four key principles of RRI (gender equality and the inclusion of disadvantaged groups, open access, data and science, ethics and quality evaluation and the involvement of SMEs and industry). Sources of information will be continually expanded.
DITOs ‘Initial Policy Briefs’ is Deliverable 4.1 (D4.1) from the coordination and support action (CSA) Doing It Together science (DITOs), grant agreement 709443.