Professor Adebambo Adewopo is one of 10 candidates to succeed Francis Gurry as Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The WIPO Coordination Committee will nominate one candidate on March 5 and 6, before he or she is formally appointed by the WIPO General Assembly.
In the increasingly global environment, our creators, inventors and innovators have continued to lean on the shoulders of the of intellectual property (IP) system as the core of the emergent global knowledge economy and a guarantee for private reward and public welfare. The products of intellect have continued to face opportunities and challenges presented by rapid technological changes. With the fourth industrial era upon us, the imperative of IP cannot be more assured than it is in every creative and innovative enterprise that has continued to drive the progress of human society. As a specialized agency of the United Nations, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) remains the apex and the primary custodian of international IP law and policy. As that role is rapidly expanding and increasingly complex, WIPO must constantly and strategically position and adapt itself to addressing the needs of the global community consisting of member states at varying levels of development. IP interest and the demands on WIPO from the global IP community in all the facets of its mandate, whether in terms of the global IP protection, norm-setting or development programs and services, are ever rising. The ability to design and implement better modes of engagement to consider the disruptive impact of new technologies, addressing the regulation of intermediaries and working through paralyzing controversial questions about IP and development are imperatives for the next WIPO leadership. As WIPO marks half a century, with the current 26 treaties administered among 192 member states, its future continues to be guaranteed in the comity of global institutions.
Assuredly, the 50-year WIPO history attests to the legacy of the impact of IP institutions on our world and the forging of the power of ideas as the engine of development and economic growth for the benefit of our teeming global citizenship. WIPO, with the contributions of its partners and stakeholders, has been at the vanguard of this noble and shared experience; it is imperative this be sustained in the days ahead. In this respect, leadership, particularly at this historic juncture, is germane. It is important that WIPO’s leadership at this time commands the highest confidence of its member states. With 30 years of professional and academic experience primarily devoted to IP in research and teaching, administration and public service, I firmly believe that I am groomed to position WIPO in strengthening the delivery of its mandate and providing balanced and inclusive global IP architecture that adequately responds to the needs of all its constituents.
Given the opportunity to lead WIPO, I commit to focusing on proactive interventions in three key areas of WIPO’s mandate and activities, among other no less important areas:
- Global Cooperation
As an intergovernmental organization, WIPO is essentially member-state driven. Promoting understanding and cooperation among WIPO member states is indispensable to good governance and leadership. I commit to providing a trusted, transparent and proficient leadership that will enhance global cooperation and consensus-building as the essence of governance and decision-making. This will also involve developing and strengthening mechanisms for self-evaluation and review of implementation of policies and programs. I will lead WIPO to assist member states in advancing the visions and objectives that member states have set for themselves while promoting an inclusive and balanced IP ecosystem. I believe it is vital to promote a framework for cooperation that fosters appreciation of how IP rights and policy can sustainably address the pressing social problems of our time for which breakthroughs in innovation is key.
- Global Norms
As WIPO continues to serve as the forum for member states to develop international IP norms, I will intensify efforts in a positive way to ensure better understanding and faith among member states in the negotiating process at WIPO in the development of norms and assurances of accession to treaties. I would ensure WIPO’s continued commitment to the critical norms of promoting access to knowledge, the increasing intersectionality of IP – agriculture, food security, digital health, green energy, climate-driven innovation and entrepreneurship, gender, traditional knowledge, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence that generate creativity and wealth for innovators as well as the global economy. It is vital to provide a sound platform for addressing the various challenges to the efficient protection of intellectual property for technological advancement, digitalization, globalisation and sustainable development. I commit to leading WIPO to deepen strategic engagement in its norm-setting processes and activities.
Integrating IP in development policies for member states desirous of appropriating and delivering the benefits of IP and knowledge products and the immense opportunities of the digital era has gained momentum in recent times. I will position WIPO to support the implementation of IP standards in a manner that is conducive to the promotion of innovation and global pursuit of sustainable development. I will promote the vision of IP and WIPO that utilizes wealth creation through innovation to help bridge global welfare gap and complement Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2030. WIPO mechanisms, for example, the Committee for Development of intellectual Property (CDIP), WIPO and SDGs initiative, WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre, WIPO Academy, including the WIPO Advanced Technologies Application Center (ATAC), among others, will be further positioned to promote development, provide technical assistance and capacity development and assist member states new frontiers for development.
My experience and leadership with clear vision, passion and sound understanding of the IP terrain and the workings of WIPO have prepared me for this task of leading WIPO at this time, given the opportunity to serve as its next Director General. I believe that WIPO’s most important asset is its workforce; hence, I will prioritize the values of teamwork, inclusiveness and sense of belonging for effective service delivery. It would be an honor to serve the great community of member states in that capacity and assist in advancing the WIPO legacy while rallying member states into the next phase of WIPO’s promising future. In this journey for global prosperity, with all the shared experiences, it is my solemn promise that I will ensure an IP system that works for all, as WIPO, under my watch, continues to empower the world with the promise of intellectual property. I pledge to offer dependable, transparent and effective leadership in the task of providing a truly balanced and inclusive global IP system for all member states.