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Support to the implementation of the Long-term EU-AU Research and Innovation Partnership for Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - LEAP4FNSSA (Support to the implementation of the Long-term EU-AU Research and Innovation Partnership for Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture)

Reporting period: 2020-05-01 to 2021-10-31

The general objective of LEAP4FNSSA is to establish a sustainable structure, or ‘Platform’, to ensure an efficient and coherent implementation of the AU-EU Research and Innovation Partnership in the domain of Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA), as described in the FNSSA Roadmap endorsed by both Unions in 2016. The Unions called for the establishment of a "Structured long-term Partnership between diverse actors dedicated to the implementation of the Roadmap, including a governance system". Under the aegis of the EU-AU High Level Policy Dialogue and by building upon current and previous related projects, LEAP4FNSSA aims to establish this Platform through a set of activities targeting the following 4 specific objectives (SO):
● Increase the synergies and coherence between actors, research and innovation (R&I) projects, initiatives and programmes, through the development of institutional alliances and clusters of projects.
● Develop a learning environment and a knowledge base, including monitoring and evaluation activities, creating communication and links between different initiatives to improve STI cooperation.
● Establish a long term and sustainable governance and propose a funding mechanism for the Platform.
● As a cross-cutting specific objective, provide support to the HLPD Bureau, in particular to the work of the HLPD FNSSA Working Group (WG).
The 1st specific objective requires outreach activities towards stakeholders, coordinators of projects contributing to the EU-AU FNSSA R&I Partnership, and other institutions. Activities include networking, informing about the Partnership and the FNSSA Roadmap, creating a database, etc.
During the reporting period, the most significant results contributing towards this objective were:
● Raising awareness and generating interest:
After the official launch event in Jan.2019 in presence of high-level officials, the Project participated in several continental or global high-level events, like the Africa Food Day in Oct. 2019 in Cairo held under the joint auspices of the AU and of the government of Egypt.
- The Project also organised a side-event at the HLPD Senior Official Meeting in Nov. 2019, several multi-stakeholder events and, to give voice to the civil society at large, 2 online open consultations.
- A Stakeholder Engagement Week on FNSSA was organised from 31 May to 4 June 2021, aiming at gathering cross-sectoral participation from governments, academia, SMEs, development agencies, research institutes, agribusinesses, and farmer organisations.
- Specific communication tools were implemented (3 add. newsletters & 3 special issues were released during this period). Participation in social networks and visits to the website and Agora have increased.
● 2 virtual clustering events with on-going projects and broad participation have been successfully conducted. A concept note for the next clustering and capitalisation workshop has been developed.
The 2nd specific objective is to develop the tools and services that institutions will expect from the Platform: monitoring of progress in the implementation of the Roadmap; studies; funding opportunities and innovative funding mechanisms; searchable, publicly accessible, database of projects; providing access to relevant and structured information through a Knowledge Management System.
During the reporting period, the most significant results contributing towards this objective were:
● The setting up and expansion of a database of relevant projects, publicly available. It contains 311 projects and is known and used by EC officials and by the general public.
● Setting up an innovative KMS, with text mining processes of indexation, classification, information extraction and knowledge generation now at an advanced stage. Analysing and presenting the content of the KMS in a form that is useful and exploitable is nearing completion (design of a K-VIZ module).
● 3 topics for studies approved by the HLPD FNSSA WG and completed. A policy brief on Food System Resilience has been developed and published, at the request of the HLPD.
● Relevant M&E information on progress made in the EU-AU FNSSA Partnership has been generated and made available. Specific M&E Indicators have been developed and a Baseline Study completed. Reporting on the findings from the data collection has taken place, including to the FNSSA WG. The systems and processes for undertaking the M&E have been reviewed by an external evaluator and internally by partners, leading to improvements.
In order to establish a long-term and sustainable governance and funding mechanism for the Platform (3rd objective):
● Progress has also been made towards the establishment of a West Africa-Europe Alliance (WAEA) and a North Africa-EU Alliance (NAEA), as collaborative and coordination processes for the envisaged AU-EU Platform for R&I on FNSSA. In the NAEA, a private sector cluster has been initiated. This could provide guidelines for private sector clusters in other regions, and inform the AU-EU Platform.
● Specific infographics and other communication media have also been produced to reach out and mobilise decision makers and funders around the Platform.
● Several decision makers and R&I funders and other existing relevant networks have been reached through the organisation of 2 Sub-Regional Awareness Raising events and 2 Dissemination Events.
● The “form” of the proposed Platform and the way forward towards its launch at the end of 2022 have been defined, in consultation with the EC and the AUC. The choice of an International Research Consortium - IRC was approved by the Consortium Partners during their 2nd General Assembly, in Dec. 2020, paving the way for launch of the proposed IRC Platform by the end of LEAP4FNSSA.
In relation to the Support to the HLPD Bureau (4th objective), project activities have focused on providing support to the HLPD FNSSA WG, through secretariat services including activities such as drafting documents upon requests, feeding the online archive and collaboration space for the WG members, etc. Thanks to this support, the FNSSA WG has been able to meet frequently virtually and to develop its work in support of the Partnership.
In view of the results achieved so far in the first 36 months, the project partners are confident that they may reach the expected impact of the project which is the establishment of the proposed sustainable Platform by the end of the project (Oct. 2022).
In the coming months, LEAP4FNSSA partners will be very active in building on results achieved so far, in particular, the decision made on the “form” of the Platform, an IRC, and on the expression of interest received from various European and African institutions to be part of the co-construction of this Platform. As described in the Grant Agreement, all these institutions, and many more that will join as the mobilisation campaign of European and African R&I stakeholders of the FNSSA domain continues towards Aug. 2022 official launch of the proposed sustainable Platform will become its initial “founding members”.
LEAP4FNSSA HLPD Roadmap Figure
LEAP4FNSSA Kick-Off meeting photo (January 2019)
LEAP4FNSSA Project Database Screenshot
LEAP4FNSSA Agora banner