The challenge of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demands collective action among the many stakeholders concerned with agriculture and food research and innovation — whether as farmers or consumers or among those working for international and national research and extension systems, NGOs, higher education, Private Sector, youth organizations and other sectors. Such diverse partners must be able to dialogue and work openly and equitably together if the agriculture-related SDGs are truly to be achieved – the principles that have driven the reform of GFAR to become a truly multi-stakeholder forum.
The Regional Fora, historically established as networks of national public research and advisory bodies to mobilize dialogue and share knowledge in their respective regions of the world, increasingly recognize the crucial need for more inclusion, equitability, democratization and legitimacy in their own regional processes, to provide effective mechanisms that are truly owned and driven by all those involved in agricultural research and innovation.
Three Regional Fora have requested that GFAR helps facilitate coherent and strategic processes of change in their own governance and roles: AARINENA in the Near East & North Africa, FORAGRO in the Americas and CACAARI in Central Asia and the Caucasus. GFAR is therefore now launching a Collective Action on Reforming and Strengthening the Regional Research Fora and Regional partners in GFAR, using a common approach and learning system, to help these bodies evolve into truly multi-stakeholder Fora, taking on board the principles of multi-stakeholder action required in strengthening and transforming agricultural innovation.
GFAR Secretariat is working with the Fora concerned to help facilitate a comprehensive reform, looking at the environment of each Regional Research Fora, the inputs to the current system, the processes and the type and quality of outputs as compared to the targeted and expected outputs. The role of leadership and governance approaches are thoroughly examined in this reform model. The aim will be to progressively expand this initiative and offer this state-of-the-art technical and facilitation support from GFAR to more of its partners, both regionally and in national systems.
The Collective action was launched on 10-11 December 2017 in Hammamet, Tunisia, with a workshop under the theme “Transforming AARINENA’s Capacity as a Multi-Stakeholder Futuristic Regional Forum for Research and Innovation for Development Tunisia”, organized by GFAR and the Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East & North Africa (AARINENA).
The December workshop brought together around forty participants representing AARINENA’s agricultural research institutions and major stakeholders—the first Regional Forum and regional network to embark on such a comprehensive system-wide reform. The participants worked extensively during the two days of the workshop to develop a strategy for the transformation of AARINENA through exploring future scenarios for the NENA region; diagnosing the current environment and situation of research and innovation in the region in light of the global trends; and assessing the different stakeholders needs and societal and global expectations from AARINENA.
The facilitator of the workshop, Professor Iman El-Kaffass, is spearheading this GFAR Collective Action and will provide guidance in the reform processes of the other Regional Fora. All participating Fora have agreed to change their business model, to diversify their funding sources, address institutional barriers to support the new goals and their sustainability. Needs assessment, foresight exercises and innovation platform techniques will be used at the start and along the reform process.
The Executive Secretary of AARINENA, Professor Mohammed Ajlouni, indicated that the association has since 1984 experienced several reforms to its constitution and governance structures; yet times change and AARINENA’s partners believe that there is a need for structured diagnosis and reform of the Association in light of the role and impact AARINENA as a regional forum should have on shaping the future of the NENA region and realizing the SDGs.
This Collective Action is projected to result in the development and finalization of AARINENA’s new strategy and action plan toward 2035. Ultimately it will contribute towards reforming and strengthening agricultural research and innovation systems, enhancing multi-lateral collaboration, and impacting development in the Near-East and Northern Africa (NENA) region.
Following this workshop, a representative committee of stakeholders will be formed to develop the strategy of AARINENA towards 2035. The strategy review will take place through a second meeting of stakeholders in spring 2018, where the strategy will be finalized together with results framework, budget and action plan.
For a youth perspective on the workshop written by Assem Reda Abu hatab, YPARD Egypt Country Representative, click here.