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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 1 - 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: 2018-11-01 to 2020-04-30

"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 four specific objectives:
● 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."
The first specific objective requires activities of outreach towards stakeholders, coordinators of projects contributing to the EU-AU FNSSA R&I Partnership, and other institutions potentially interested in this cooperation. Activities include networking, informing potential partners about the Partnership and the objectives of the FNSSA Roadmap, giving them access to information (projects database), etc.
During the reporting period, the most significant results contributing to progress towards this specific objective were:
● Awareness raising and interest generated through:
- An official launched event in January 2019 in presence of high-level officials from the government of Ghana, the European Commission and the African Union Commission.
- The participation to global events such as the Africa Food Day in October 2019 in Cairo, held under the joint auspices of the AU and of the government of Egypt.
- The organisation of a side-event to the HLPD Senior Official Meeting in November 2019 (with the participation of approximately 50 representatives of European and African organisations).
- The organisation of other events such as a multi-stakeholder roundtable in West Africa.
● Initial steps taken towards a regional alliance between European and North African R&I institutions who gathered in the Africa Food Day high-level event and demonstrated interest towards a structured network.
● The production of Terms of Reference for projects clustering and capitalisation (based on stakeholders inputs collected, in particular, during the HLPD SOM).
● The development and initial implementation of a Dissemination and Communication Strategy and Plan (organisation of webinars, publication of several newsletters, active presence in social medias, production of infographics and providing the Project visual identity, etc.).

The second specific objective requires to develop the tools and services that institutions will expect from the Platform: monitoring of progress made in the implementation of the Roadmap; production of specific studies; identification of funding opportunities and development of innovative funding mechanisms; creation of a searchable, publicly accessible, database of projects; developing methods for clustering of projects; providing access to relevant and structured information through a knowledge Management System (KMS).
During the reporting period, the most significant results contributing to progress towards this specific objective were:
● The identification and approval by the FNSSA Working Group of the topics for three studies, with Terms of Reference drafted for the two to be launched first;
● The production of an analytical review highlighting the diversity of FNSSA R&I funding organizations, with case studies on Burkina Faso and Egypt;
● The production of a database now publicly available, including so far about 200 relevant projects;
● The advances in setting up a KMS, with the development of its query interface and the initial coding for its software.

In order to establish a long-term and sustainable governance and funding mechanism for the Platform (3rd objective):
● LEAP4FNSSA has initiated the formalization of a regional alliance between European and North African R&I institutions who gathered in the Africa Food Day (Egypt, October 2019) and demonstrated interest towards a structured network.
● Infographics and other communication media have also been produced to reach out and mobilise decision makers around the Platform proposal.
● Furthermore, LEAP4FNSSA has proposed, in a Concept Note shared with the EC, an International Research Consortium (IRC) as a likely governance and funding mechanism model for establishing the proposed sustainable Platform.

As for the Support to the HLPD Bureau (4th objective), the activities have focused during the reporting period on:
● providing secretariat services to the HLPD FNSSA WG (drafting documents upon requests, setting up an online archive and collaboration space for the WG), which enabled the FNSSA WG to meet frequently, virtually and face-to-face, with preparatory documents and minutes made available to all participants.
● providing support to the HLPD bureau for the organisation of the HLPD Senior Official Meetings (and its related side-events) in November 2019.
Through all these activities, The Project has been successfully launched thanks to regular work of all partners and exchanges with our REA Project Officer and DG AGRI Policy Officer for information and for advice. All activities (including putting in place an External Advisory Committee and an Ethics Advisory Board) were implemented during this reporting period without major deviations of Tasks from the Grant Agreement, but with some adaptations in particular at the end of this period (since March 2020) because of the unforeseen COVID-19 Pandemic.
Thanks to the results achieved so far in the first 18 months, and also to the high visibility that the FNSSA Partnership will receive during the EU-AU summit scheduled for the end of 2020, 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 in 2022.
In the coming months, LEAP4FNSSA partners will be very active in implementing the COVID-19 mitigation measures, in contributing to events connected to the EU-AU summit, in launching three specific studies, in testing the first demonstration of the KMS which will serve the members of the Platform, in continuing to reach out and mobilise European and African R&I stakeholders of the FNSSA domain –at the regional and at the continental levels – towards joining and supporting the establishment of the proposed sustainable Platform.