ERA-ARD-I produced a European overview of all programmes, projects and institutional actors in ARD and, to a lesser extent, news, events and experts. The data were synthesised to provide country profiles at the mid-term conference of ERA-ARD-I in June 2007. A presentation of the current ARD landscape is available on the web-based ERA-ARD-Information system Infosys+ which is linked to the ERA-NET’s website www.era-ard.org in a user friendly way, which will be further developed and maintained to an up-to-date, interactive user-friendly website as an important information- and communication instrument for the whole ERA-ARD network and all its partners, and for policy makers, programmers and researchers in ARD.
During ERA-ARD-I, a shared vision on ARD in Europe and a strategic agenda to implement it were developed. The first priority identified was to benefit from a greater participation of partners in the formulation of the national ARD programmes. In addition, there was a felt need for increased consultations at the national and European levels between all decision-makers involved in agricultural research and agricultural research for development in order to elaborate a European contribution to the international agricultural research agenda and to the MDGs. This Work Package will address these new challenges.
Reports from studies conducted by a number of bodies such as the Commission for Africa, the Inter-Academy Council and the United Nations Task Force on Hunger have highlighted the urgent need to strengthen human and institutional capacity for change and innovation in agriculture. A study conducted by the Forum for Agriculture in Africa (FARA) proposed that the effect of capacity deficiencies has limited the relevance and responsiveness of National Agricultural Research Systems in agricultural development of Africa. This is also valid for other regions in the world. In addition, the new EIARD strategy and the results of the SCAR/EIARD/ERA-ARD-I Task Force emphasize the need for ARD capacity strengthening in the South. This work package aims to address this need for capacity building and –strengthening, not only in the amount and quality of technical resources but also in research management related to programme planning, systems management and governance, for two selected sub-programmes: Agri-Food Chain Safety and Food & Energy and Global Food Security, both aiming at strengthening the agro-productive systems. Capacity strengthening will be achieved by identifying best practices and formulating guidelines for improvement of capacity development activities in these themes, the active dissemination of the results and the identification of priority actions and the dissemination and organizational support of these actions.
ERA-ARD-I evaluated the current practice of Developing region - European co-operations in (food safety chain related) agriculture research as well as integrated education and training activities. This resulted in a priority list of settings, processes or networks for joint development, improvement or enrichment, respectively. A good part of these activities had to do with providing free access of students and researchers from developing and emerging economies (but also for the program management community) to the vast and fragmented landscape of European funded global ARD research projects and especially their results, not only the progress in science but more important the solutions for the addressed issues.In addition, the networking process with EIARD and other relevant permanent platforms/initiatives to achieve sustainability of the initiated mechanisms for a more efficient and effective programming of European ARD has been started and will be continued in ERA-ARD-II to align national and European ARD programming agendas. ERA-ARD-II will build further upon the information networks extended for the research as well as the program management community. ERA-ARD-II aims to support and provide joint platforms for multi-lateral research planning and programming, also including research increasing food production.
Through the experience gained from the transnational call launched during ERA-ARD-I, an understanding of the differences and similarities of national funding mechanisms and funding priorities for Agricultural Research for Development has been acquired. Similarly, lessons have been learnt regarding the setting up of a selection process and the coordination modalities between funders. The added value of new call(s) is: (1) exploring smaller bi- or multilateral calls (2) exploring new funding models as e.g. real common pot between a limited number of funders and (3) involving new partners in transnational calls. In ERA-ARD-II, new transnational calls will be launched under the same objective, integrating interests and funding mechanisms of existing and new Consortium members, building on the practical knowledge developed under the transnational call on “bio energy”. ERA-ARD-II is open to new themes that may be considered important for Global Food Security. ERA-ARD-II will adapt the topics of its calls to the actual policy needs and to the needs of funders and/or the stakeholders in developing and emerging economies. ERA ARD-II will launch targeted call(s) and work towards a more sustainable call process. A maximum of flexibility will be built into the system to make sure that clusters of consortium members with common interests will be encouraged and supported in the launching of calls. The establishment of a Call Secretariat will allow the preparation, implementation and the monitoring of the call. At the same time, the secretariat will be the focal point for funders and research institutions involved in transnational calls.
This Work Package covers all activities related to the day-to-day management of the project. As ERA-ARD concerns national programmes targeting developing countries, emerging countries and countries in transition, the information and knowledge it generates are, by nature, predominantly international public goods. However, the coordination or the design and implementation of some joint programmes may need to make explicit the intellectual property rights and obligations of the different parties. These clauses will be specified in the consortium agreement and the contracts that will be signed by the parties. The participation of the project coordinator in meetings of coordination mechanisms related to ARD and agricultural research policy and project implementation in Europe and worldwide will ensure a dialogue and improved coordination between the different initiatives related to ARD, especially with EIARD that could be used as a channel for establishing contacts with non ERA-ARD members. A final Conference will be organised to improve the communication between the ERA-ARD members, the European Member States and Candidate countries, the European Commission, stakeholders in developing and emerging economies, and representatives of regional and global ARD systems.