LEAP4FNSSA | Newsletter: The Launch of the International Research Consortium and outlook on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture

  • 07th November 2022
  • by secretary
Agrinatura News

The Launch of the International Consortium Platform and Outlook on FNSSA

Author: Dr. Irene Annor-Frempong

The implementation of the Africa Union – European Union Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA) Roadmap of 2016, is expected to be improved through the setting up of a platform of an alliance of stakeholders (including funders) with a long-term and sustainable governance and funding mechanism, and a knowledge management and communication system that will inform policy makers and other major FNSSA actors. This role of setting up of a long-term platform was mandated to the European Union Horizon 2020 Coordination & Support Action (CSA) project: the Long Term European African Partnership for Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (LEAP4FNSSA) project which started in 2018 and is expected to close end of this month, October 31, 2022. Associated with the LEAP4FNSSA mandate, was an imperative to move from ‘partnership to platform’. This move is underpinned by the decisive action by the AU-EU cooperation on research and innovation to make a clear shift from discrete projectized approach to a continuous programmatic frame that elicits sustainability within a long-term perspective.

After four years of its implementation, important achievements have been made that provided the important building blocks for the transformation of the existing collaborations into a more structured Platform for collaboration – The International Research Consortium. The IRC was successfully launched in September, 2022 under the aegis of AU-EU High level Policy Dialogue (HLPD). The launch marked the final deliverable of the LEAP4FNSSA project.

Implications of the IRC launch

The International Research Consortium (IRC) is to be set up as a bi-continental platform linking all actors in research and innovation in Africa and Europe to advance a science-led growth in sustainable food and nutrition security based on equity and common priority agendas and generating global spill-overs. Its uniqueness is routed in its long-term bi-continental nature closely linked to the main policy process of the AU-EU cooperation on research and innovation- the HLPD represented by the AUC, EC, and their Member States. The IRC will connect existing structures, such as regional and sub- regional organisations or partnerships on research and innovation towards increasing their coherence and impact, hence acting as a network of networks.

The IRC launch also implied three critical factors required for the operationalization of the IRC. These include; 1. A document describing the structures of the IRC and guidelines for its establishment

  1. A growing number of institutions that have signed Declarations of Intent by the highest authority, to join the IRC. A larger proportion (80%) of these institutions have worked together for four years and therefore share a matured partnership.
  2. The development of tangible structures, processes and competencies required to kickstart the establishment of the IRC

    Transitioning to the implementation of the IRC

The full operationalisation of the IRC is expected to start late 2023. This transition period of nearly one year which offers a good opportunity to fully prepare for a smooth transition for an effective start-up phase. Optimum outcomes of these actions will, however, depend on establishing effective linkages among the actions.

Fourty (40) institutions across Europe and Africa have currently signed ‘Declarations of Intent’ to join the IRC. Also, the momentum generated at the launch of the IRC and the continued interest of research and innovation stakeholders in the IRC need to be facilitated and sustained. Country level membership to elicit domestic funds from Member States should be fostered for a healthy start-up of the IRC. The LEAP4FNSSA project developed and bequeathed tools, databases and competencies to the IRC, including the KEOPS and KM tools, Project database, D-Groups and website. Based on these, three broad transitionary actions are anticipated. These include; 1. A set of actions to position the IRC membership for an effective start-up, 2. Actions to maintain the tangible structures and processes required to kickstart the establishment of the IRC 3. Development of companion guidelines and reference material to enable timely operationalization of the IRC.

The outlook for the IRC on the future impact of FNSSA policy and impact is very positive. The IRC is expected to catalyse and galvanise necessary collective actions that will ensure resolution of the perennial fragmentation that have undermined the expected impact of the multitude of research and innovation initiatives, programmes and projects and investments in the past decades.