WEF: Synthetic Biology Global Future Council

By Magdalena Obmalko

On the 6th of April, 2021 the World Economic Forum hosted the Global Technology Governance Summit, featuring a panel discussion titled “The Next Frontier: Synthetic Biology” with Megan Palmer, Margaret A. Hamburg, Matthew Chang and Jason Kelly, exploring ways to realise synthetic biology’s transformative potential responsibly. The conversation foregrounded ongoing work by the forum’s new Synthetic Biology Global Future Council, a multidisciplinary network of stakeholders and thought leaders that our founder, Natsai Audrey Chieza, is a member of.

The Council aims to bring together diverse stakeholders from across the globe, across sectors and across perspectives to envision ideal future states of synthetic biology and strategies to ensure more peaceful, prosperous, sustainable and equitable societies. Its work builds on previous efforts and focuses on inherently global challenges that concern how we synthesise our shared biological futures and contend with our own biological nature: Who gets to envision the future? Who gets to shape it? How will the future transform us? This is no small task, and while the Council is small, it brings together a cohort committed to reflection and action that enables others to contribute to this mission. Realising the future potential of synthetic biology to benefit people and the planet requires revisiting what types of societal transformations we desire.The Council is examining how structural issues across different sectors of society, institutions and industry have placed limits on the promises of synthetic biology, and is developing a roadmap for the forum based on a new set of values: Equity, Sustainability, Solidarity and Humility. These values will inform policy frameworks that make it possible to establish shared visions for synbio and how to get there.

“The Next Frontier: Synthetic Biology” is now live on the World Economic Forum’s platform.


Find out more information about the Synthetic Biology Global Future Council and the four key values shaping the Council’s thematic lenses and priority areas here.

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