African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services

Consortium Europe Africa on Research and Innovation for Food Systems Transformation (CEA-FIRST)

Project objectives

CEA-FIRST will achieve its purpose by specifically addressing four key objectives;

1) to operationalize the IRC on FNSSA; including its governance bodies, its liaison with the HLPD process, working groups and funding mechanism; 2) to operationalize the new AU-EU partnership modality through a learning environment and a large knowledge base, including monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL), creating communication and links between different initiatives to improve cooperation in science, technology and innovation (STI); 3) to develop a sound method for the analysis of the results of R&I activities and for identifying research gaps, HORIZON-CL6-2023-FARM2FORK-01-18 – Support for the implementation of a sustainable platform for the EU-AU cooperation under the Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA) partnership; 4) to increase the synergies and coherence between actors, research and innovation projects, initiatives and funding programmes, through the development of institutional alliances and clusters of projects and expertise.

Objective 1: The International Research Consortium on FNSSA is operational; including the necessary governance bodies, working groups, funding mechanism and liaison with the HLPD process. CEA-FIRST builds on the tools and guidelines developed and prepared under the LEAP4FNSSA project. The IRC document produced at the end of the LEAP4FNSSA project will serve as the source document to guide the setting up of all governance structures, management and strategic plans to provide direction for the implementation of the IRC. CEA-FIRST will ensure a shared vision on IRC functions and services and derive the specific implementation guidelines, quality assurance protocols and ethical controls to facilitate effective and efficient execution of the IRC consortium agreement in close collaboration with the EU and AU through the HLPD (WP1). CEA-FIRST will also build and consolidate formal research and innovation cooperation between the EU and the AU on FNSSA by setting up dedicated IRC Working Groups and by monitoring the implementation of FNSSA’s R&I priorities and support (WP6). Reaching out to decision-makers, stakeholders, academia and funders and their networks in the field of R&I on FNSSA through knowledge sharing, learning and dissemination and aligned to innovative funding tools are important elements towards achieving this objective (WP1 & WP6).

Objective 2: A learning environment and a publicly accessible large knowledge base, including monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) activities, are established. CEA-FIRST will consolidate and update the existing FNSSA Knowledge Management tools in the form of the FNSSA projects database and –the Knowledge ExtractOr Pipeline System (KEOPS) (WP2) towards the creation of one knowledge platform (WP4) for the IRC, by merging existing relevant knowledge management tools. This will facilitate public access and knowledge sharing on relevant research activities and results concerning the FNSSA Roadmap. WP4 will monitor, evaluate and develop learnings on the FNSSA Partnership, using the MEL findings to support decisions making at policy, research and practitioner levels, including highlighting the strengths and gaps, opportunities for scaling and partnerships to increase the impact of the Partnership. Demand-driven research programmes in line with the FNSSA Roadmap, increasing upscaling of research findings as well as organizing annual regional and continental policy engagements aligned to EU and AU Member States policy strategies will be important in achieving objective 2 (WP6). Coordination of these CEA-FIRST actions will support the cooperation in line with the HLPD processes (WP6) and lead to developing a Learning environment and a large knowledge base open to the public.

Objective 3: Synergies and coherence between actors, research and innovation projects, initiatives and programmes are increased; through the development of institutional alliances and of clusters of projects and of expertise. The achievement of the principal objective of CEA-FIRST on increasing synergies across R&I actions and expertise will be championed by WP5 and supported by WP6, through setting up IRC Working Groups on aspects of policy making, research funding, research conduct, knowledge brokerage and innovation upscaling. WP6 will also support WP5 in organizing IRC annual regional and continental policy engagement and policy alignment events. WP6 will develop appropriate innovative funding tools and launch a CEA-FIRST flagship Funders initiative. WP6 will also promote demand-driven research programmes supporting the FNSSA Roadmap, increase the IRC outreach, and broker and upscale research in the IRC. Coordination of CEA-FIRST tasks will facilitate coherence of actions, collaboration among partners, joint cross-cutting activities and piloting of IRC governance functions, including the liaison with the HLPD process (WP6). To address objective 3, CEA-FIRST will also build on other initiatives which implement the FNSSA Roadmap such as the (former) ERA-Nets LEAP-AGRI and Food Systems and Climate (FOSC). Synergies with the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre for Global Food and Nutrition Security of the JRC (in particular, through WP4) and other HLPD priorities such as CCSE and the Innovation Agenda will be sought to achieve this objective.

Objective 4: An evidence-based ground to support the updating of the FNSSA Roadmap will be created, including proposals for new R&I priorities provided by identifying research gaps. CEA-FIRST will provide the processes for identifying and synthesizing new research and innovation priorities. This will be informed by work on knowledge management and monitoring and evaluation activities under WP 2, linking with WP3 on policy engagement as well as on stakeholder engagement, conducting a number of consultations and taking advantage of the IRC strategy and operational plan based on scenario mapping and foresight study to be developed under WP1. The key actions contributing to this objective are led by WP2 including research and innovation processes for updating the FNSSA Roadmap. Key deliverables will include validated working documents and consultative reports on research and innovation priorities in the AU and EU region consultations.

The activities are organized around 6 Work Packages (WPs); WP1: CEA-FIRST Project and IRC Start-up, WP2: Consolidation of Knowledge Management & Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning tools and support to the FNSSA Roadmap update, WP3: Strengthening Networking and Stakeholder Engagement, WP4: Knowledge and learning facilitation using information generated from the Knowledge Management Platform and the MEL. WP5: Implementing IRC Functions Through Stakeholder Engagement, WP6: Coordination of CEA-FIRST and IRC Pilots. CEA-FIRST activities will be conducted under the control and guidance of the EC REA Project Officer, who will manage the action in liaison with the Policy Officer assigned by the European Commission to ensure the contribution of CEA-FIRST to the FNSSA Partnership by responding to the expectations of the HLPD and its Bureau- which is the ultimate decision-making body responsible for the FNSSA Partnership. The Chairpersons of the FNSSA Working Group will be invited to join the IRC Council to be set up by M24 of the CEA-FIRST project. At project level, CEA-FIRST will be coordinated by the project Steering Group. CEA-FIRST will collaborate with the JRC’s knowledge centre on Global Food and Nutrition Security to advance the development of the IRC knowledge platform

Key role for AFAAS: Task 3.2 Strengthening liaison between research, innovation and practice (M1-M24) (Leader: AFAAS/ COLEAD, support by: SLU, ACU, CSIR, PAFO, ARC, Agrinatura, Agricord, RURFORUM, ASARECA, FANRPAN, YPARD, ANR, NRF, STDF, CIHEAM) This task aims to serve as preparatory phase for implementing effective work programme development, knowledge brokerage, research upscaling and outreach in the IRC by mapping out the relevant STI sector related to FNSSA, clustering existing initiatives and IRC stakeholders, and developing tools to ensure attractive value proposition for the different IRC membership typologies. Activity 3.2.1 establishes, strengthens, and supports new alliances among partners. This includes developing a knowledge-sharing strategy and mapping IRC member signatories based on taxonomies to facilitate effective IRC WG operations. The goal is to expand the partnership and create various networks/groups/clusters within it by organizing workshops for different groups to establish customized work programs/frameworks implemented through the IRC. These workshops will be organized back-to-back with the CEA-FIRST General Assemblies (GA). Three communication and clustering sessions will be organized, 2 virtual and one back-to-back with the GA to enhance networking, mutual learning, and synergy building. Activity 3.2.2. expands the IRC membership and ensures the IRC value proposition. To increase outreach and its potential to successfully channel efforts toward effective joint EU-AU collaboration on R&I partnerships, actions to expand membership and represent the current AU-EU R&I ecosystem are needed. This includes mapping existing platforms/initiatives and analyzing potential synergies while considering their strengths and constraints (including e.g., CSA-PANAP, DeSIRA, HEUROPE, LEAP4FNSSA, LEAP-AGRI, FOSC, TAP, CAASTNET+, RINEA, ERAfrica, PAEPARD, CANNALS etc.). Three stakeholder engagement events will be organised online to present the IRC platform to the 3 categories of actors (e.g., public and private institutions involved in funding, implementing, or applying R&I) and complete the mapping and stakeholder need analysis. Further, a process will be put in place to systematically gather the interests/needs (surveys, online form, pools, etc.) of the different stakeholders. Collected needs will then feed the constitution of the WGs and the establishment of their joint work Programmes further submitted to the General assembly. Through this process, members will be able to join or create relevant WGs and articulate their vision and scope.