Scientific Cooperation with International Organizations

Find out how the Government of Canada is promoting and advancing Canadian agriculture sector interests through initiatives sponsored by various international organizations.

APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation)

Canada is a member of APEC, a non-treaty forum comprised of 21 member countries in Asia and around the Pacific Ocean that account for approximately 40% of the world's population and 55% of the world's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). APEC economies engage in economic and technical co-operation to attain sustainable growth and equitable development in the Asia-Pacific region, to reduce economic disparities among members and to improve overall economic and social well-being.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is active in the Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group which seeks to improve agriculture and trade through knowledge and technology sharing in the areas of agriculture, biotechnology, and animal and biogenetic resource management. In recent years, APEC leaders have charged the Working Group with:

  • responding to food security challenges;
  • promoting the development of next-generation sustainable biofuels;
  • enhancing agriculture's ability to adjust and mitigate the impact of climate change; and
  • strengthening technological cooperation in the strategic planning of projects.

The Policy Partnership on Food Security is meant to share information and solutions to reducing waste, improving outputs and engaging industry related to improving food security in APEC nations. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers knowledgeable in the area of Post Harvest Losses and Food Waste are sharing their expertise with other APEC members.

CABI (Centre for Agriculture Bioscience International)

CABI, is a not-for-profit science-based organization, specializing in scientific publishing, research and communication. It has 48 member countries.

Through its 11 research centres located across the world, CABI helps address the challenges of food security by improving crop yields, safeguarding the environment and improving access to agricultural and environmental scientific knowledge. Its current research areas are focused on crop management, performance and disease management, invasive species management and knowledge management.

CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research)

CGIAR, is a global research partnership that brings together organizations engaged in research for a food secure future. CGIAR research is dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources. It is carried out by 15 centers and partners across the globe, working on multidisciplinary research programs.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centres collaborate with a number of the CGIAR research centres and programs, including:

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center

With the global need to increase sustainable maize and wheat production, CIMMYT works with national agricultural research institutions, non-government and community-based organizations, seed sector organizations, regional research networks, other CGIAR centers, private companies, and advanced research institutions. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's involvement is focused on:

  • Germplasm exchange;
  • Scientist to scientist research collaboration; and
  • Joint research projects.

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas

ICARDA is focused on improving productivity, incomes and livelihoods among resource poor households in dry and semi-arid areas.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has worked in the following areas:

  • Germplasm exchanges involving barley, lentil, chickpea, and durum wheat. Some of these exchanges have involved AAFC's gene bank at Plant Gene Resources of Canada;
  • Germplasm evaluation; and
  • Cooperative research:

In addition, Canada and ICARDA worked together in the development of a global strategy for the conservation of the genetic resources of several pulse crops.

Bioversity International

Bioversity International delivers scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safegard agricultural and tree biodiversity for sustainable global food and nutrition security.

Canada has benefited from the scientific research of this world-leading centre on topics related to agricultural biodiversity, in particular:

  • Conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in gene banks, such as seeds, clones or cultures in vitro;
  • Factors involved in conservation by farmers, and wild relatives of crop plants in nature;
  • Understanding the optimal balance among the various methods used to conserve crop genetic resources; and
  • Methods of documenting genetic resources in order to facilitate their use in plant breeding and research.

Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity and its 189 member States are focused on conservation of all forms of life on Earth and the sustainable utilization of their biological characteristics. The Convention is related to agriculture in many ways, and provides an opportunity for collaboration for preserving agricultural biodiversity and facilitating its sustainable use.

The Convention has established many programs, including one focused on agricultural biodiversity; also a subsidiary body provides scientific, technical and technological advice.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada works closely with Environment Canada, which is leading this file for the Government of Canada.

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

Since the founding of the FAO in 1945, Canada has worked with this international agency to help alleviate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. Officials from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada help coordinate scientific collaboration related to work carried out by FAO's various programs, committees and governing bodies.

Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was established in 1983 to address issues related to plant genetic resources. In 1995, its mandate was broadened to cover all components of biodiversity in food and agriculture. With 175 country members, it is the largest commission in the FAO.

The International Engagement Division of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada chairs an interdepartmental committee on genetic resources issues for food and agriculture, leads Canadian delegations participating in the work of the Commission, and represents Canada at meetings of the Commission's intergovernmental technical working groups.

Since its establishment, the Commission has overseen global assessments of the state of the world's plant, animal and forest genetic resources for food and agriculture and negotiated major international instruments, including the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

In spring 2013, Dr. Brad Fraleigh of Canada chaired the fourteenth session of the Commission at FAO Headquarters in Rome. Results included updating outdated global crop gene bank standards, preparation for an unprecedented report on the state of the world's biodiversity for food and agriculture, and developing indicators to monitor the implementation of global plans of action.

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The Treaty was adopted by the FAO Conference in 2001 and entered into force in 2004. Canada ratified it in 2002. The objective of the Treaty is the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture worldwide, and to facilitate access to samples and promote the sharing of benefits from their utilization in a fair and equitable manner.

The Treaty's program of work includes implementing a multilateral system of access to plant genetic resources and benefit-sharing. Its Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) facilitates the world-wide transfer of genetic material amongst researchers and plant breeders.

Canada's participation in the Treaty allows Canadian crop scientists to benefit from facilitated access to plant genetic resources (that is, seeds, cuttings, and plant parts that contain genes) to breed new innovative crop cultivars needed by Canadian producers. Canada's participation in the Treaty is linked to an Agriculture and Agri-Food program, Plant Gene Resources of Canada.

Global Soil Partnership

The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) is an initiative that was endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2012. It aims to improve governance of the world's soil resources in order to guarantee healthy and productive soils for food security. Membership is open to governments, international and regional organizations, institutions, and other stakeholders.

Its objectives include:

  • creating and promoting awareness on sustainable soil management;
  • addressing critical soil issues,
  • acquisition of knowledge and implementation of targeted research,
  • promoting links among existing multilateral initiatives and bodies;
  • developing sustainable soil management guidelines;
  • advocating the need for new soil surveys and data collection;
  • promoting investment and technical cooperation; and
  • institutional strengthening and capacity development.

The GSP includes an Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), whose role is to provide scientific and technical advice on global soil issues to the GSP. The current Canadian member on the ITPS, Professor Daniel Pennock of the University of Saskatchewan, was nominated by the Canadian Society for Soil Science with the concurrence of the Government of Canada. In 2014, during the second ITPS session held in Rome at the FAO, Professor Pennock was invited to update the vision and guiding principles of the World Soil Charter to better reflect new scientific knowledge and issues, such as soil pollution and climate change adaptation and mitigation. The new Charter will also include new priority actions.

Canada expects to benefit from the presence of soil and soil health issues on the international agenda through GSP. There are connections with Canada's activities to strengthen the scientific base of activities and methods for monitoring and addressing climate change and land degradation.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) provides a platform for 195 countries to solve science and technology problems of mutual interest, including adaptation, mitigation, productivity and agricultural resilience to climate extremes. AAFC participates in SBSTA in order to improve cooperation in research and development at international levels, to help ensure a level playing field of rules and standards for all major economies, and to ensure that any agreed rules work for the Canadian agriculture sector.

The SBSTA addresses scientific and technical issues related to agriculture and climate change and establishes approaches that have both domestic and global implications.

Canada plays a leading role by advocating for comprehensive scientific and technical work on agriculture under the UNFCCC, and also continues to highlight successes and take advantage of opportunities for progress on agricultural mitigation and adaptation in other forums.

Initiatives of the Group of 20 countries

Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists

The Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists is a forum for G-20 nations to promote agri-food research and development collaboration, identify agricultural research priorities, and coordinate existing and future initiatives. This group works on various G-20 initiatives and provides advice to G-20 leaders on issues relating to agriculture, food security and nutrition challenges.

In June 2014 the group met in Brisbane, Australia. Canada was represented by the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Science and Technology Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. A Communiqué was issued supporting the progress achieved on existing G-20 and other agricultural initiatives.

International Research Initiative for Wheat Improvement

The International Research Initiative for Wheat Improvement, also known as the Wheat Initiative, was created under the Action Plan on Food Price Volatility adopted after the meeting of the G-20 Agricultural Ministers held in June 2011 in Paris, France. This international consortium, which includes public institutions and private companies, coordinates wheat research programmes at the international level in order to increase economic efficiencies, avoid duplication of research efforts, and add value to existing national or international public and private initiatives.

The charter that defines the purpose, scope and organization of the Wheat Initiative was prepared by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and approved by all members in Paris in May 2013.

The Wheat Initiative is planned to become the principal international vehicle to enable countries to access all information about wheat research and improve cultivars available to wheat producers.

The associated International Wheat Yield Network was launched in March 2014 to stimulate new research, amplify output from existing programs and make scientific discoveries available to farmers. AAFC is also a member of this network, which is aligned with the vision, policy and scientific activities of the global Wheat Initiative.

Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative

As part of its Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture, the G-20 countries made a commitment to improve market information and transparency in order to make international markets for agricultural commodities more effective.

To that end, the Global Agricultural Monitoring initiative, also known as GEOGLAM, was launched in 2011 by the Group on Earth Observations. GEOGLAM coordinates satellite monitoring observation systems in different regions of the world to provide consensus assessments on the state of global crop production in near real time. GEOGLAM has six components, including the Research and Development component, for which Agriculture Agri-Food Canada is co-lead.

Canada also leads the Joint Experiment on Crop Assessment and Monitoring, which monitors 30 sites around the world. Dr. Ian Jarvis leads the project on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. A main objective of this joint experiment is to coordinate and link agricultural monitoring research activities around the world to reach a convergence of approaches, and develop monitoring systems that support GEOGLAM's global "system of systems" for agriculture.

Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases

Launched in December 2009, the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases is an international effort to reduce greenhouses gases while increasing the productivity and resiliency of agricultural production systems.

In 2012-13, Canada chaired the Alliance Council as it moved forward on a number of fronts, by strengthening communication among research groups, establishing new networks and engaging new organizations as partners to the Alliance.

Research groups include the Inventories and Measurement Cross-Cutting Group, which is co-chaired by Dr. Brian McConkey of the AAFC Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre in Swift Current, Saskatchewan and by the Netherlands. It promotes and supports consistent methodologies for measurement and estimation of greenhouse gas emissions.

OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)

The OECD is composed of 34 of the world's most economically advanced countries. Its mission is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. The OECD provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common economic, social and environmental problems.

Co-operative Research Programme

The Co-operative Research Programme was established in 1979. Its objective is to strengthen cooperative efforts among members and promote networking among research scientists engaged in agriculture and related science in OECD countries. The Program focuses on three themes:

  1. natural resources challenge;
  2. sustainability in practice; and
  3. food chain.

It achieves its objectives through two types of activities:

  • Research fellowships to encourage exchanges among scientists from different member countries interested in the research themes; and
  • Sponsorship of international conferences, workshops, symposia and congresses with a view to informing policy makers of current and future research and scientific developments.

Between 2008 and 2014, the Co-operative Research Programme sponsored a total of nine conferences in Canada and 37 Fellowships (either Canadians or Canadian residents working in other countries, or nationals from other countries working on projects in Canada).

PROCINORTE

PROCINORTE is the Cooperative Program in Agricultural Research and Technology for North American countries (Canada, United States and Mexico). It aims to promote cooperation in research and technology in the Northern Region of the Americas through exchanges and partnerships for competitive and sustainable agricultural development. This program is under the auspices of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture which acts as Executive Secretariat.

PROCINORTE was created in 1998. Its members include:

  • Canada
    • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • United States
    • Foreign Agricultural Service
    • Agricultural Research Service
  • Mexico
    • Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agricolas y Pecuarias

Joint initiatives among the three countries are managed through task forces, currently related to Genetic Resources, Plant Health, Animal Health, and Tree Fruits.

Task Force on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Norgen)

Norgen was initiated in 1999 to develop a focal point for agricultural genetic resource programs and to facilitate the exchange of information under the umbrella of PROCINORTE.

  • Mexican and Canadian gene bank curators were trained in the use of GRIN-Global, a global gene bank information management system, intended to improve the capability of gene banks to provide data on plant genetic resources and to manage these collections. Canada hosted a workshop on GRIN-Global in Saskatoon in September 2014; participants included scientists, gene bank curators, database managers as well as technicians.
  • The IX International Symposium of Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean (SIRGEALC) now includes the PROCINORTE countries. Its 2013 meeting brought together more than 160 researchers and experts in genetic resources from 12 countries.
  • In October 2013, the international workshop "In situ conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources" held in Mexico, allowed researchers and curators from Mexico, Bolivia and Guatemala exchanged experiences and knowledge with local farmers on the strategies implemented in their communities for the conservation of genetic resources.

Task Force on Plant Health

This Task Force is focused on invasive plant pathogens, insect pests and weeds of high agronomic and environmental consequences to the three countries.

Emphasis has been placed on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), an invasive species causing severe losses to tree fruits, small fruits, vegetables, raw crops and vineyards. In 2011, the BMSB caused $37 million in losses in United States (US) apples alone, and is becoming a concern in Canada. Specialists are working jointly to share knowledge and better understand the bug's epidemiology and behavior.

Task Force on Animal Health

The Animal Health Task Force is monitoring crises related to animal diseases that constitute areas of concern for agricultural trade in Northern countries. Through extensive collaboration and training (for example, use of immunohistochemistry procedures and histopathology and immuno-histochemical staining techniques for classical and atypical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)), 16 researchers and regulators from the Northern Region became proficient in the detection of BSE.

To better control virus outbreaks like the H7N3 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Mexico, scientists decided to further develop their understanding of epidemiology of this disease through consultations, studies and workshops.

Task Force on Tree Fruits

This Task Force was created in 2000 to enhance research collaboration among the three countries and address issues related to the production of fruits and post-harvest technologies. Its activities focus on food quality issues that impact trilateral trade. Near-infrared analysis (NiR) was developed to determine the physiological maturity of avocado fruits.

Since February 2014, Canadian research scientist Dr. Peter M. Toivonen, an expert in fruit storage and post-harvest physiology, has been developing a technology that will help monitor the quality and maturity of temperate tree fruits.

Date modified: