27 November 2023

BGE’s first All Hands Meeting in Barcelona: a big success

By Ela Sari (Naturalis Biodiversity Center)

Last 13-15 November, the first All Hands Meeting of the Biodiversity Genomics Europe (BGE) project took place at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra) in Barcelona, Spain. The 3-day meeting – which brought together over 100 in-person participants – came about a year after the start of the project and was aimed at looking at what has been achieved so far and what is yet to come.

The full programme was kicked off by the Opening Plenary Session, which started with a word of welcome by BGE’s director and scientific coordinator Dimitris Koureas and Salvador Carranza, director of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology. Up next, the day was inaugurated by keynote speaker David Castle (BIOSCAN Canada) on the topic of ‘standards for impact’. Castle named a number of key issues for the coming years, such as the need to figure out how mainstream barcoding will be used and the need to look for a recognized standard for all our data.


Above: Keynote speaker David Castle (BIOSCAN Canada) at the Opening Plenary Session

The first day of the All Hands Meeting also covered a presentation by the European Commission and BGE’s project management, followed by a series of updates from all work package leaders and updates from the stream level. These updates were partly given on the basis of a SWOT analysis to provide clarity. Besides highlighting our successful first-year collaboration, this also made it easy to focus on possible improvements and solutions for enhanced efficiency within the project. An interactive panel discussion about the development of the European nodes of iBOL and EBP marked the end of the first meeting day at Barcelona.


Above: Citizen scientists and stakeholder engagement activities across BGE

The following days of the All Hands Meeting consisted mainly of conversations and brainstorming at stream-, pillar- and work package-level in various transversal breakout sessions. For instance, at the stream level, questions such as the more important challenges to sample flow between work packages were addressed, directly resulting in possible solutions such as a hackathon. Breakout sessions on topics such as Access and benefit-sharing (ABS) and Citizen scientists and stakeholder engagement activities across BGE were also part of the comprehensive programme. The latter, for example, not only covered topics such as ‘Ethical requirements in Citizen Science (CS)’, but also discussed a common strategy for the contents and structure of the CS section of the BGE website. All in  all, this variety of topics and discussions gave us plenty of time to think about the next steps, making us look forward to the coming years with great enthusiasm.

Special thanks to our host Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra), their hospitality made the All Hands meeting a big success!

Thank you all and until next time!