Horizon 2020 found to be meeting its objectives, but is underfunded

A new assessment of the first years of Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme, shows that it is on track to help create jobs and growth, tackle our biggest societal challenges and improve people’s lives. Horizon 2020 has clear European added value by producing demonstrable benefits compared to national or regional-level support, but it has been so successful in attracting the best researchers and innovators that it could have spent four times its budget in support of excellent projects.

Press release: ec.europa.eu/research/index.cfm?pg=newsalert&year=2017&na=na-300517

Read the full report: ec.europa.eu/research/evaluations/index_en.cfm?pg=h2020evaluation

UNESCO Individual Consultancy: Bringing the International Hydrological Programme to the Pacific SIDS

The UNESCO Office for the Pacific States seeks a consultant to deliver a scoping and mapping report and proposed work plan with a view to increasing the support that UNESCO’s water programmes, particularly the International Hydrological Programme, provide to Pacific SIDS. The successful applicant will possess technical expertise in water resources management, water governance and water security, knowledge of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme and the unique context of the Pacific Small Island Developing States.

Deadline for submission of bids is 26 May, and detailed information can be found online at http://www.unesco.org/new/index.php?id=43606.

Tender: Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac)

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology requires the contracting of management services for COSPPac Project Management through a Pacific (Fiji or Samoa) based provider until 30 June 2018. The provider of these services will:

  • Finalise the transition of COSPPac products to relevant Pacific agencies in close collaboration with the Program’s partners, the National Meteorological Services of 14 Pacific countries and the in-country users of COSPPac products and services.
  • Report to the Bureau Program Board, COSPPac Steering Committee and Planning Meetings, support Melbourne based staff, facilitate and contribute to the Program Completion Report.
  • Monitor related activities supported by Pacific countries and other development partners to ensure effective coordination.

Further information: www.tenders.gov.au/?event=public.atm.show&ATMUUID=6A8121A1-EBFA-A8E4-339E0838718ECA11

2017 Call for Proposals: Programme for Strengthening Non-state Actors (NSAs) Engagement in Regional Policy Development and Implementation

The Programme for Strengthening NSA Engagement in Regional Policy Development and Implementation seeks to promote good governance in the Pacific by opening up spaces for policy dialogue and by building capacity and ability of NSAs to participate effectively in regional policy and implementation.

Non-state Actors (NSAs) are defined as civil society organisations, non-government organisations, research institutes, think tanks, networks, issues-based coalitions, and organisations that represent the private sector. Refer to the footnote1 for an expanded definition of NSAs according to the EU.

The main stakeholders of the programme will be regionally focused NSAs and national NSA umbrella organisations in 14 Forum Island Countries (FICs) and in Timor Leste, and indirectly the communities and groups they represent. This programme will ultimately support policies that reflect the needs and perspectives of civil society and that have been developed through a participatory process.

The programme will provide capacity development through a variety of training avenues and stakeholder workshops for NSAs to strengthen their engagement in policy development processes at the regional level, with positive flow-on impacts for the national level. It will also support NSAs to contribute to policy making processes, to monitor policies and, ultimately to help implement those policies. The programme will also support the development of an enabling environment for policy engagement through structured dialogue mechanisms between NSAs, PIFS and Development Partners.

Further information: grants.forumsec.org/index.php/2-uncategorised/26-gr03-guidelines-for-grant-applicants

What is required to build capacity for science advice in developing countries?

Building capacity for providing science advice requires simultaneously building capacity for doing science. Local context and understanding matter. In parallel to giving science advice, we need to continue to build capacity to do science.

The credibility and weight of the organizations in which individual scientists work and engage with a broader community is important. Organizations need to come together into research networks that accelerate the production of knowledge.

The ability of researchers to communicate science is critical.

The ability to provide effective science advice to governments needs to operate within an effective science and innovation system. Building individual and organizational scientific capacity is insufficient if the overall system, the key players, and the linkages between them are weak.

Read more: www.ingsa.org/ingsa-blog/what-is-required-to-build-capacity-for-science-advice-in-developing-countries

Innovation systems: Towards effective strategies in support of smallholder farmers

The result of an expert consultation, this publication examines ‘innovations systems’ – a concept suggested as underpinning industrial development – as a strategy for agricultural development. Innovation systems approaches conceptualise change as a long-term, socially-embedded process, and recognise the important role policy plays in shaping the parameters within which decisions are made. Providing a collection of papers and commentaries from the world’s top scholars and practitioners, this book looks at the strengths – but also the weaknesses and challenges – of the innovations systems approach and how it may be applied to benefit smallholder farmers.

Download the publication from CTA: publications.cta.int/en/publications/publication/1829

28 new projects to be funded through BEST 2.0

Following a positive and large response to the two calls for proposals launched in 2016 the European Commission has selected 28 new projects – 24 small scale and 4 medium scale – to be funded under the BEST 2.0 Programme.

The small grant call targeted the Caribbean and Pacific regions and resulted in the submission of 35 eligible proposals, while 16 eligible proposals were received in response to the medium grant call targeting the Indian Ocean, Polar/Subpolar and South Atlantic regions. All 5 regions will benefit again from at least one project with a total of 19 territories targeted.

The projects aim to achieve tangible results on the ground for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services including ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation. All of the projects are aligned with relevant territorial and regional strategies.

Led by, and involving partnerships between an array of different actors, including international NGOs, territorial governments’ departments, municipalities, local socio-professional associations and local Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations, the projects address a range of issues indicated as priority areas for action in the Regional Ecosystem Profiles. These include the control of invasive alien species, management of marine ecosystems, sustainable use of water resources, restoration of coral reefs and terrestrial ecosystems and the conservation of endangered fauna and flora. A large number of the projects are implemented within priority Key Biodiversity Areas identified in the Regional Ecosystem Profiles. In addition, there is a strong focus on building capacity within the territories as well as communication and outreach activities targeting the general public.

Further information: portals.iucn.org/best

The Pacific region is a perfect example of science diplomacy in action

The Pacific region can serve as an exemplar of how science diplomacy could work, according to Professor Jean-François Marini, coordinator of the EU-funded PACE-Net Plus project and former adviser to the French government on science diplomacy.

PACE-Net Plus united 16 partners in the Pacific and the EU to strengthen research cooperation between the two regions. How did you go about achieving this?

‘In order to reach this objective of a better, stronger cooperation in science, technology and innovation, the philosophy was to increase research capacity, management and dialogue, to allow the appropriation of science by the countries of the region. One of the ideas was to make information available to the Pacific states to help them to form opinions, founded on scientific evidence, and for Europe to better know the opportunities in Pacific research. At PACE-Net Plus, we have sent our recommendations to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) asking the leaders of the member countries of the region to recognise the importance of science for development, and to raise its visibility among the leaders of the Pacific region.

‘One of the outcomes that emerged is the idea that an observatory of climate change in the Pacific region would be a good tool to help ensure that scientific knowledge serves local governance. We also think, and this is important, that each country in the region should have a scientific coordinator, or a chief scientist, a function that is often still lacking.’

What can Europe learn by working with the Pacific states?
‘With climate change, emerging diseases affect more people in the Pacific and could easily become a concern in Europe. Pacific countries are also starting to think about environmental migration as the water level rise forces some islands to evacuate. There are also a number of issues that concern this region which will become global in the future, such as deep sea mining and blue growth (sustainable exploitation of ocean resources), to name just a few.’
You were working alongside the European External Action Service, Europe’s diplomatic corps. What was the reason for this?
‘In the framework of our bi-regional platforms, we worked closely with the European External Action Service because, over and above science, scientific projects such as PACE-Net Plus are also a tool of diplomatic relations between the two regions.’
How does capacity building in science help form diplomatic relations?
‘In big international fora, for example, the Pacific islands are more our partners than opponents. They take part, for example, in open discussions to agree on 1, 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius as a tolerance threshold of temperature rise for all countries in the future. This relationship with the countries of the region based on science facilitates the discussion on these global issues.’
How did you go about building this relationship during the PACE-Net Plus project?
‘In the field of climate change, for example, our thematic think tanks allowed country representatives to look at science as a development tool, to ensure that the decisions around climate are based on rigorous facts. As many of these countries deal with the reality of rising sea levels, science gives them concrete information that serves as a basis for their policymaking. This is also the case for resource management and other topics of importance such as the policies for innovation. Each year, PACE-Net also organised a large Pacific-Europe bi-regional platform dedicated to policy dialogue on science, technology and innovation cooperation.’
How will this connection between science and diplomacy evolve in the future?
‘From a European point of view, I think the next steps will consist of consolidating a coordinated approach between scientific cooperation and development aid. In other words, between DG RTD (the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation) and DG DEVCO (the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development).’
Do you think that the seeds of this enhanced cooperation are already there?
‘Yes, everything is there in the Pacific region. Everything is there for it to happen. We only need a few more actions and time to further implement it.’
So the Pacific is an environment where development science and aid can work effectively together?
‘Exactly. In the Pacific countries, we played that role by chance, by having with PACE-Net direct relationships with (government) organisations that didn’t know each other well. There was science on the one hand and development aid on the other hand. I will conclude by saying that the Pacific region in relation to Europe is prototypic. We can develop or find cooperation tools, and we can coordinate between different DGs and services from the European Commission over actions dedicated to the Pacific region, where things can be done on a human scale.’

The European Union makes €166m available to work with Pacific countries to promote growth and resilience

The creation of jobs, strengthening private sector engagement, mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change and strengthened human rights and gender empowerment are a few of the impacts targeted through the new EU Pacific Regional Programme (RIP) under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for which the European Union makes available €166 million. Beneficiaries are the 15 Pacific Island Countries which have signed up to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific.

This week the Fund’s Regional Steering Committee for the Pacific is meeting in Suva and brings together high level representatives from 15 Pacific countries, regional organisations, overseas countries and territories, Civil Society Organisations and the EU. The Committee will review the progress and lessons learned from previous regional programmes of over €119 million. It will also provide strategic guidance to ensure that the €166 million allocated under the 11th cycle responds effectively to the challenges faced by the people of the Pacific.

“The Framework for Pacific Regionalism has four high level objectives, relating to sustainable development, economic growth, strengthened governance, and security. Alignment of the regional EDF spending behind these areas that Pacific Leader have identified as being priorities is a best case example of the way in which our partnerships should work,” said Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor. “The European Union is an active and valued Forum dialogue partner for the Pacific region.”

Mr Jobst von Kirchmann, Head of Unit in the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission said ”I am pleased about the positive spirit of our meeting and the joint commitment to do the utmost to deliver the best possible projects to those who really matter: the people living in the Pacific. To focus primarily on their needs and expectations and combining it with the expertise available in the region will allow us to get the best possible impact”.

H.E. Andrew Jacobs, the European Union Ambassador to the Pacific emphasized: “Coherence of regional support with national programmes as well as with EU support to the Pacific overseas countries and territories of EU Member States is crucial, and this week’s Steering Committee meeting will seek to ensure this is effective.”

The 11th EDF will be delivered through the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme which is coordinated by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat which is the Duly Mandated Regional Organisation for the Pacific.

The Regional Steering Committee for the Pacific meets once a year. The Committee is co-chaired by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the European Union. Countries attending the meeting this week include the Cook Islands, East-Timor, Fiji, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu as well as French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

Pacific countries, in particular low-lying Small Island States (SIDS), are at the forefront facing the impact of climate change, the consequences of which will include decreased availability of lands for housing, threats to agricultural production and infrastructure, deforestation and pollution of fresh water supplies. Through this funding, the EU will assist the SIDS to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, thereby creating an impact on the ground.

Additionally, private sector development plays a key role in creating economic growth, employment and improved living conditions. Through the priority area 1 of the RIP, the EU will impact on people’s lives through increased access to goods and services, including basic ones such as clean water, sanitation and energy. It furthermore incentivises people to invest in education and skills acquisition which means a better future for the people.

The conservation and sustainable management of coastal and oceanic fisheries is another significant issue which is vital to improving livelihoods and in ensuring that the resources are sustained for the future generations will also be tackled by this funding.”