Behind the scenes over the last year, there’s been a big change taking shape in GFAR. With the Partners in GFAR themselves in the lead, the foundation for a renewed GFAR has been laid—a new governance structure that ensures the voices of local stakeholders, from across all sectors, are included in the dialogue on transforming agriculture and food for our future.
Unique Governance for the Unique Global Forum
What’s all this excitement about governance, you ask? Normally, the decisions made by a steering committee might be thought less than thrilling. Endorsing motions, outlining work plans, approving budgets.
But what if the process of setting priorities were so inclusive of diverse sectors that the decision-making process itself catalyzed new ways of working? What if the members used these interactions to enable them to deliver to a broader vision and an exciting global change?
That’s exactly what’s in store for the first meeting of the new GFAR Steering Committee, being held in Rome on 8-9 February. 34 newly- and re-elected representatives from among over 400 self-declared Partners in GFAR will meet to share their perspectives on the role of agri-food research and innovation in sustainable development and in meeting our future needs. The Partners work on addressing critical issues such as food and nutrition security, climate change, empowerment of women and youth, farmers’ rights, open data and educational reform. Coming from organizations working across the world in farmers’ and civil society organizations; scientific research, education, rural extension and advisory services; business and enterprise; and international development agencies, these representatives will together pioneer a refreshed GFAR that is truly owned by and inclusive of all.
What makes GFAR work is having a common vision, having a common belief at the core of it that actually what we are doing is working together towards our shared goals… if it is not delivered by everybody, then it will not be sustained; we need that collective ownership of these ideas and these principles.
–Mark Holderness, GFAR Executive Secretary
Why the need for a new Steering Committee?
Since GFAR was founded, the global and regional organizations engaging as GFAR stakeholders have always sought to be accountable to the needs of resource-poor consumers and farmers whose voices are less often heard. Still, there remained an obstacle to connecting the interests of science with those of society, to make sure actions were grounded in actual development realities. The challenge was how to put all stakeholders on an equal footing and have equal voice—from small farmer to agribusiness, researcher to politician, youth to seasoned expert.
Now, through an open and inclusive process, the Partners in GFAR have been given the opportunity to be heard more directly. In December 2016, nine local representative seats have each been voted on and determined by their own constituencies. This process ensured that they are truly credible in representing the interests of the communities they serve, and are able to reflect a grassroots viewpoint, informed by local perspectives.
The Partners that make up the Steering Committee are not there just to represent themselves. They have committed to advocate for the concerns of their constituencies and actively engage with and mobilize them. They will be directly accountable to other GFAR Partners in their sectors for catalyzing key collective actions to be taken forward with Partners in other sectors.
GFAR works essentially by holding a collective mirror up to institutions of all kinds. That mirror is formed by the multiple perspectives of others, each reflecting on their roles and how they can work better together as partners.
– Mark Holderness, GFAR Executive Secretary
Find out who’s representing you in the new GFAR Steering Committee here!
How can you help shape the future agenda of GFAR?
The first meeting of the new Steering Committee will take place in Rome on February 8 and 9, 2017. During this meeting, the members will outline the priority themes and actions that GFAR will address during 2018-2021.
If your organization is already a Partner in GFAR or would like to become a Partner, you have what it takes to join this movement for change! Take some time to go through the current GFAR Medium Term Plan (MTP) and consult within your organization about what three priority areas of action should be included in the next MTP, based on GFAR’s declared mission and work streams.
Send your three priority areas of action to the GFAR Secretariat (GFAR-Secretariat@fao.org) by Friday, February 3rd, so that they can be considered for discussion at the Steering Committee.
Once your organization becomes a Partner in GFAR, the representative for your constituency may also be contacting you directly for your input on GFAR. They are not just representing their own organizations in GFAR’s governance, but are also accountable to you for ensuring that your organization’s perspectives and actions are effectively engaged into GFAR’s collective actions and for keeping you informed of their activities.
We look forward to receiving your priorities and to exciting collective actions during the coming term of the GFAR Steering Committee!
A list of the representatives forming the new Steering Committee is available here.
Learn more about the whole process of governance reform undertaken in 2015-2016 by the Partners in GFAR here.
An extract from the GFAR Charter that sets out the background, composition and responsibilities of the Steering Committee is available by clicking here.
Picture courtesy Scott Maxwell