As we step into 2023, we reflect on the successes and achievements of the year gone by and anticipate the promise of a new one. 2022 was an eventful year for the Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research, marked by a number of new findings and successful studies.

After two weeks of extensive negotiations, the most important gathering on biodiversity in many years concluded on December 19th. The Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) saw the long-awaited adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). It defines the roadmap for governments and other stakeholders to conserve the world’s biodiversity over the next decade and beyond. 

A key part of the GBF is a set of Goals and Targets to guide action until 2050. There are several targets relevant to gene drive research, which emphasize the role of science and innovation in supporting the achievement of the GBF. Increasing scientific cooperation, access to scientific information, access to innovation and technology, and raising awareness on the critical role of science, are featured in Targets 20 and 21, as well as in Section C and Section K (g). The text of Section I also recognizes the need for cooperation for capacity building and transfer of technologies.

By Morgane Danielou, Global Communications Manager, Target Malaria

Today the World Health Organization published its annual World Malaria Report. New data shows that countries around the world largely held the line against further setbacks to malaria prevention, testing and treatment services in 2021. Nevertheless, the report confirms that malaria remains a deadly threat to millions of people globally and that the fight against the disease is still at a precarious juncture.

There were an estimated 619,000 malaria deaths globally in 2021 compared to 625,000 in 2020 and 568, 000 in 2019. Malaria cases continued to rise between 2020 and 2021, but at a slower rate than in the period 2019 to 2020, with the global tally of malaria cases reaching 247 million last year.

By Delphine Thizy, Former Member of the IUCN Taskforce on Synthetic Biology and Biodiversity Conservation

On December 7, the 196 Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will be convening in Montreal, with the aim of adopting a new Global Biodiversity Framework, which will serve as a roadmap for governments and other stakeholders to conserve the world’s biodiversity over the next decade and beyond.

Across regions, challenges to conservation and biodiversity are rapidly mounting. The rate of species loss and ecosystem degradation is accelerating, with 1 million species currently threatened with extinction. Although decades of conservation work have produced some major successes, current tools are not enough to address growing biodiversity loss challenges.

Technological advances such as the gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 have allowed scientists to alter the genetic material of insects with ever-growing precision. Transgenic insects, from gene drive mosquitoes to genetically modified ticks, are increasingly being developed and considered for a variety of potential applications, including but not limited to the field of human health.