Report on F&BKP Office’s activities in 2013
2013 saw the start of the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP), one of the five Knowledge Platforms initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The F&BKP was not launched publicly in 2013 but steps were taken to organize the Office and hold initial talks with relevant networks and organizations in the Netherlands.
The Office of the Food & Business Knowledge Platform was established in September 2013 after a consortium of three organizations (Agri-ProFocus, CDI Wageningen and The Broker) won the tender issued by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the summer of 2013. From September on, the Office explored different ways of binding national and international networks and organizations active in food and nutrition security to the Platform.
The aim of the Office team was to start conducting concrete activities as soon as possible, to discover what approach would be most successful and how to achieve results in the short term. Initial talks with relevant networks and organizations resulted in a first Knowledge Agenda on three themes (Food Wastage, Nutrition Security and Partnerships), for which various activities are planned in 2014. These initial talks and the preparation of the activities for 2014 are the basis on which the Knowledge Platform will be developing further in 2014, with the addition of more themes and topics to the Knowledge Agenda. These will be generated from an expanding group of participating networks and organizations within the Platform.
Since the Platform will be a gateway for other networks, and the Office will cooperate with networks and Communities of Practice rather than individual organizations, the Office team sought the best working method for partnering with networks. Consequently, the F&BKP did not aim to be visible to the broad public in 2013 immediately from its start up. It did, however, lay the basis for its future activities and cooperation with networks. The Office chose for a ‘soft/gradual’ launch of the Platform, so that potential participating networks and organizations could see the added value of the Platform before they committed themselves.
The vision, definition and added value of the Platform and the role of the Office were further defined and explained in a two-pager. A strategic communication approach was also developed and the functionalities and design of the website were discussed with a number of potential website developers, from which the Office selected Zimmerman & Zimmerman. The overall communication goal is that, in three years from now, the F&BKP will have acquired a good reputation as the definitive independent and innovative Dutch knowledge broker with a high level of ambition in the field of food security.
Furthermore, the private sector approach was defined more in detail. The Office prepared a set of activities for implementation in 2014 (these will be defined in more detail in close cooperation with stakeholders). To identify relevant knowledge questions, the Office will approach the private sector from the bottom-up (starting with running projects, issues of interest for companies) and the top-down (sector organizations and networks/system issues). A scoping meeting will be prepared in 2014. This and all other planned activities have been published in a detailed annual Work Plan for 2014.
Theory of Change
The Office also extended the basis for the governance of the overall programme and the Knowledge Management Facility. It started by designing a Monitoring & Evaluation model, including a Theory of Change. The Office also started talks with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on how the Platform and its Knowledge Management Facility can contribute to the knowledge and learning agenda of the Ministries of Foreign and Economic Affairs – including the continuation of their Embassy Support Programme (FSESP). Talks with NWO-WOTRO contributed to closer ties and cooperation regarding the Food & Business Applied Research Fund and the Food & Business Global Challenges Programme.
The F&BKP Office produced the following publications in 2013: Two-pager (October 2013), Inception Report (November 2013), Work Plan 2014 and a proposal for an Initial Knowledge Agenda. These documents have been sent to the F&BKP Steering Committee.
What happened before September 2013?
Although the F&BKP Office started up in September 2013, it is the culmination of a series of events that happened long before. In 2012 the establishment of the F&KBP Steering Committee paved the way for the tender procedures for the Office. In the meantime the Steering Committee initiated an online debate on food security on the website of The Broker to identify interesting topics and dynamics in the current wider debate on the issue. Development minister Lilianne Ploumen signed the contract for the Food & Business Knowledge Agenda and the two related research funds, which are facilitated by NWO-WOTRO. The Agenda was then officially launched in April 2013 in The Hague. In the summer of 2013, a consortium of Agri-ProFocus, CDI Wageningen and The Broker won the tender for the Office, which started operating in September of the same year.