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Five Minutes with… Dr. Fang Chen

Professor Fang Chen
Dr. Fang Chen is a Professor, and director of Information Research Department, and executive director of Center for Strategic Studies on Bioscience and Biotechnology (CaSBIO), Chengdu Library and Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences. She is mainly engaged in research of science and technology strategy and innovation policy, strategic information research on biotechnology and related fields, and has undertaken and participated in a number of strategic research and information analysis tasks entrusted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and relevant ministries and institutions. Dr. Fang Chen participated as an esteemed panelist in the roundtable on People, Planet, Policies discussing bioeconomy strategy in China.

The year 2020 has been exceptional due to the pandemic. How do you see 2021 unfolding - what are your expectations for this year?

2021 has come. We have to admit that we will still face the challenges of the pandemic or other unknown diseases and disasters for a longer period of time. In the post COVID-19 era, first of all, let’s expect cutting-edge biotechnology to bring us more possibilities in dealing with these challenges, which has been confirmed in the past year. mRNA based vaccines are industrially produced and commercially used for prevention of human infectious diseases for the first time. Synthetic biotechnology is helping us to realize the design and production of drug molecules, new materials and even artificial foods. The integration of agriculture, biotechnology and information technology or automation technology is drawing a view of smart agriculture, smart medical care and smart community. Secondly, in 2021, I hope to see people reach a broader consensus and a better framework for action in seeking the harmonious development of human beings and nature. As planned, the 15th Conference of Parties (COP) for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will be held in Kunming, China this year, at which the 2030 goals to save planet’s biodiversity will be redefined. We have reason to believe that the concept of one health will be reflected in the global strategy of biodiversity conservation in the next decade.

We understand that China is preparing its national biostrategy. Can you please share some information about the strategy, and the plans to implement it?

Actually, in China, the idea of bioeconomy has been reflected in national development concepts and many strategies. Taking the bioindustry as an essential part of strategic emerging industries, special development plans have been launched every five years since 2006. Then, China has put forward a new five development concepts of “innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing” in 2015 and proposed to build a “green, low-carbon and circular economy” in 2017. Recently, China has further made a strong commitment to take active measures to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

China is working hard to formulate the 14th Five-Year Plan for Bioeconomy Development, which is expected to be released in this year. The new plan will be the continuation and upgraded version of the 13th Five-Year Plan for Bioindustry Development, in which China will outline the blueprint of national bioeconomy and put forward the goals of high-quality development of bioindustry by 2025. I understand that the new plan will involve three main aspects. The first is for a healthy China, that is, to take actions to protect Chinese people’s life and health. The second is to build a beautiful China, to cultivate the innovations for greener environment, cleaner energy and more sustainable agriculture. And the third one is about Made in China, focusing on the use of bioresources and biotechnology capabilities to seek high-quality growth opportunities.

The World BioEconomy Forum 2021 is planned to take place in Brazil later this year. What are your expectations for the event?

That will be an exciting event. As we all know, Brazil is rich in bioresources and has great achievements on biotechnology crops and bioethanol industry. At the same time, Brazil and China are both important emerging economies, playing important role in the global bioeconomy map. I look forward to hearing more voices from developing and emerging economies at this forum and discussing on jointly promoting the development of bioeconomy in the whole world. I hope that the forum will be held smoothly as scheduled and be a complete success.

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