Farewell F&BKP, hello NFP
The Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP) started in September 2013 and after seven years we will end our activities in their current form: supporting the knowledge generation and sharing of thematic networks; facilitating the work of Food & Business Research consortia in partnership with NWO-WOTRO; and providing access to frontline publications through our Knowledge Portal. In the new year, the Platform will be – together with AgriProFocus – formally integrated in Netherlands Food Partnership (NFP). Besides preparing for this organizational transition, our focus in 2020 was on anticipating our activities to the NFP strategy under development. The COVID-19 pandemic made it a double challenge.
Our eyes are on the future, but a few words on what has been achieved by the F&BKP is appropriate. In 2013-2014 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MinFA) established five Knowledge Platforms around the strategic themes following the policy priorities of that time, including Food and Nutrition Security. The ambition was to enhance knowledge exchange and cooperation between the stakeholders in the development field. The F&BKP defined three goals: (1) improving the relevance and efficient use of Dutch, local and international knowledge and research capacity; (2) strengthening the FNS related policies and programmes; and (3) facilitating knowledge and research that suit Dutch and local entrepreneurs, and increased investments in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The core of our work as knowledge brokers was to support thematic networks on existing or new themes in the field of Food and Nutrition Security. We facilitated organizations and networks dealing with among others food wastage, nutrition security, inclusive business, land governance and landscape and social entrepreneurship in generating and sharing knowledge. For evolving themes such as youth, food systems, and food & stability, the F&BKP organized Communities of Practice. More recently we worked closely together with the private sector to increase sustainable sector development with a food systems lens in horticulture, potato and dairy. We also play an advisory and facilitative role supporting the strategic partnerships of the Netherlands with CGIAR and the World Bank Group.
The F&BKP has been partner in the Food & Business Research (F&BR) programme – Applied Research Fund (ARF) and Global Challenges Programme (GCP) – managed by NWO-WOTRO. The 75 F&BR projects have generated many new insights and innovative solutions for improving Food and Nutrition Security in LMICs. The focus on co-creation, timely preparing for outreach, and in-country meetings combined with thematic public events, increased the use of research results. At the recent final conference “Scaling Insights for Sustainable Food Systems” a selection of research findings, best practices and lessons learned were discussed.
Last but not least, the F&BKP Knowledge Portal shared many curated references to interesting frontline publications regarding different dimensions of Food and Nutrition Security to the many regular news items on the website. Our Annual Reports and the booklet with 73 projects funded by the Knowledge Management Facility present the highlights of our work.
In 2018 an external evaluation looked at the first five years of the Platform. The evaluators provided positive feedback on our relevance and our flexibility: “The thematic choices made in the F&BKP activities, and the very flexible adjustments to a rather rapidly changing policy environment, can be seen as very adequate.”. They also acknowledged our core role: “The F&BKP (including the two research programmes) succeeded to mobilize almost all relevant knowledge, and NGO agencies active in the Netherlands in the field of food security, as well as a lot of partner institutes in Africa, and some in Asia, America, and Europe. The network is truly impressive”. Furthermore, the evaluators pointed at some areas of improvement also anticipating the NFP, including more alignment with Dutch food security initiatives/projects, more involvement of major business players in the food and agriculture sector in the Netherlands and better connections with major European and global and Dutch players as well as better alignment with the relevant think tanks in LMICs. As a team we appreciated both the positive feedback and the recommendations. We have been working on all these aspects in the past two years.
The MinFA and MinAgri took the initiative for a Netherlands Food Partnership, an umbrella in which existing organizations and networks will be able to pool and mobilize their knowledge and expertise, thus taking Dutch efforts for global food security to the next level. It was also proposed to use the legacy, knowledge and experience of F&BKP and AgriProFocus to build NFP, which was launched at World Food Day in October 2019. NFP enables collective impact coalitions between relevant Dutch organizations and international partners. Those coalitions should contribute to more sustainable food systems which on their turn lead to end hunger, increase Food and Nutrition Security and promote sustainable agriculture. The SDG2 objectives! Next to supporting existing and new impact initiatives, NFP will be a convening platform where partnerships are formed, new initiatives explored, their lessons and experience shared, and their impact increased. Achieving impact at scale and starting from the needs and agenda in LMICs will set the priorities and approach for knowledge brokering work. Tacit, practical and academic knowledge is needed to build coalitions and to change food systems. The legacy, knowledge and experience of the F&BKP will be of great value in the future. It is crucial to find the leverage points and innovations that stimulate transformation and to make short-term projects contribute better to long-term transitions. Together with the legacy and expertise of AgriProFocus we will take up this challenge.
The knowledge sharing and partnership building by the F&BKP in several thematic networks and CoPs, will be continued by NFP. The website of NFP already took over communication on these activities. The F&BKP website will not be updated anymore – except on some ARF and GCP projects which end early 2021 – but will be available for some time as an extensive knowledge base. More important, most team members of the F&BKP Office will be part of the NFP team. In that sense it is definitely not a goodbye.
We want to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for initiating the F&BKP and give the opportunity and space to create and expand such an innovative platform. We thank all Steering Committee members who gave direction to the strategic ambitions. We are grateful to the consortium partners Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation, AgriProFocus and The Broker, who seconded team members in the F&BKP Office and made it possible for the F&BKP to operate as an independent platform. Last but not least, we are most grateful to all partners, individual professionals, organizations and networks in many different countries with whom we have collaborated in the past seven years. We hope to meet again in the Netherlands Food Partnership.
Wishing you a healthy, safe and food secure 2021!
Director of the F&BKP
On behalf of the F&BKP Office team: Anika Altaf, Rojan Bolling, Herman Brouwer, Jocelyne Commandeur, Judith Jacobs, Mariëlle Karssenberg, Ine Martens, Malou van Meijl, Nicole Metz, Vanessa Nigten
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