LEAP-Agri kick-off meeting

Multi-stakeholder partnerships are needed for the challenges that we are facing

1 April 2019

At 12 March 2019, Patricia Wagenmakers from the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture (LNV), as well as Cora Govers and Monika Brasser from NWO-WOTRO, welcomed researchers, stakeholders and policy makers at the Dutch LEAP-Agri kick-off meeting. The addresses as well as group discussions emphasised the need for cooperation with all kinds of partners in development.

Cooperation with Africa is of core interest for Dutch policies on food security. LEAP-Agri is governed by the high level policy dialogue between EU and Africa and works on the implementation of the EU-AU Roadmap on agriculture and food. In total 27 system oriented projects - that deal with economic, ecological and social challenges - were granted in the first LEAP-Agri call for proposals. Fourteen projects have Dutch partners, four of these are coordinated by Dutch researchers.

Partnerships are key

In his address, Melle Leenstra from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasised that research has to be relevant to the context in Africa, and take into account the challenges of local universities and other knowledge centers. Multi-stakeholder partnerships are needed to achieve lasting and sustainable change. We should support the partnerships between researchers, the private sector, NGOs but also the NARS in LEAP-Agri, as they are central to contribute to the challenges we face. Also, at Dutch embassies, experts like the agricultural counsellors and FNS experts are ready to assist the projects. The connection between resilience and food security is expected to become an even bigger focus of Dutch policy in the future.

The EU-Africa partnership will be following the idea of stimulating business-to-business and people-to-people connections. The Rural Africa task force is pointing to this development and LEAP-Agri is already working on its agenda. Policy briefs are expected from this programme, but also peer reviewed papers on evidence based practice that have an impact for African governments, UN agencies and other interested partners in development.

Working in groups

After the welcoming words andaddress, the attending LEAP-Agri researchers presented their projects with a short pitch. An overview of the LEAP-Agri projects with consortium partners from the Netherlands can be found at the NWO-website. After the pitches, the participants worked in groups to explicate partner expectations, possible synergies between LEAP-Agri projects and with other initiatives, and impact pathways to contribute to the SDGs.

Conclusions and take-home messages

  • Interdisciplinarity is an emerging element in all projects.
  • There is added value in having a better overview and capitalising beyond individual projects.
  • The importance of working through local actors was emphasised, as well as working with boundary partners to scale and disseminate results.
  • Interaction between the SDGs is key to obtain results. Synergies and tradeoffs of SDGs need a system approach: optimising an holistic system instead of maximising different components in the system, linking technological and institutional research findings
  • Cooperation with partners and stakeholders is often more complex than expected. So we should develop strategies on co-creation and communication.
  • It is important to strengthen the institutional capacity for M&E and reporting: provide evidence, feed into policy, facilitate bottom-up processes of the actors that can make the difference.

Source: NWO