Terms of Reference for the European Regional Focal Point (ERFP) and Programme for Animal Genetic Resources
1. Development of the European Regional Focal Point
World food security and poverty alleviation are global challenges for present and future generations. At the same time, the conservation and sustainable utilization of biological diversity as well as the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources are central tasks of the global community, as agreed by the adoption of the Convention of Biological Diversity in 1992. The Millenium Development Goal 1 "eradicate extreme poverty and hunger" and Goal 7 "ensure environmental sustainability" highlight these challenges. As an important part of the agricultural biodiversity, animal genetic resources are an essential basis for livestock production and offer opportunities to adapt animal breeds to changing environments, especially in the light of climate change.
Hence, the European Regional Focal Point for Animal Genetic Resources (ERFP) was initiated in 1998 and became formally operational in 2001 as the European part of FAO's global coordination structure for animal genetic resources which is based upon national and regional focal points.
Over the years, the collaboration and coordination facilitated by the ERFP in Europe has developed successfully. There are now 45 countries involved. Experience gathered since the establishment of the ERFP lead to the preparation of new terms of reference for the organisation and long term planning in the form of a Multi Year Programme of Work (MYPOW) for the period 2010 to 2014.
Since its establishment, ERFP has been funded through voluntary financial contributions made by donor countries. Voluntary additional financial contributions may also be made by donors for specific programmes or projects co-ordinated by the ERFP. The financial management is carried out by the Secretariat of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) in Rome. However, under the MYPOW a new funding mechanism is being established, see point 5 below.
The organisational core of ERFP consists of the Assembly of National Coordinators, Steering Committee (SC) and Secretariat. Working Groups consisting of NC’s or other experts in the member states are the most important tools in the activities coordinated by the ERFP. Some short-term work may be carried out by Task Forces responding to very acute needs. The Assembly may also ask a named group to carry out ad hoc actions related to the needs of the common ERFP programme or the needs of the Secretariat as issues arise.
The objectives of the ERFP are:
- To support the in situ and ex situ conservation and sustainable use of AnGR in European countries.
- To facilitate the implementation of the Global Plan of Action for AnGR in Europe.
- To assist and enhance the AnGR activities of NCs at the European level.
- To develop and maintain regular contact and exchange of relevant information on AnGR horizontally between European NCs and EAAP and vertically with the Global Focal Point in Rome using existing structures.
- To stimulate the funding and organisation of regional projects, research, workshops and national programmes for AnGR within the European Region.
- To maintain an appropriate liaison with the European Commission, the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and regional and international NGOs. For scientific aspects, it is supported by the European Association of Animal Production’s Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources (EAAP WG-AGR).
- To stimulate and coordinate the maintenance and further development of national and regional AnGR databases and to encourage European information networking on AnGR.
The ERFP works with existing operational structures in countries and seeks partnerships and collaboration with existing organisations. ERFP has been involved in facilitating regional communications; providing technical assistance; coordinating training, research and planning activities amongst countries; development of regional policies; assisting in identifying projects; and interacting with government agencies, donors, research institutions and non-government organizations.
2. Global Plan of Action
The international community has, in September 2007, adopted the first ever Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources (GPA), comprising twenty-three Strategic Priorities which are aimed at combating the erosion of animal genetic diversity and at using animal genetic resources in a sustainable fashion. The Strategic Priorities for Action, contained within the GPA, propose specific measures to reverse the ongoing trends of erosion and underutilization of animal genetic resources (AnGR).
The Strategic Priorities for Action contain the following four Strategic Priority Areas:
- Characterization, Inventory and Monitoring of Trends and Associated Risks
The actions provide a consistent, efficient and effective approach to the classification of animal genetic resources, and to assess trends in, and risks to, animal genetic resources.
- Sustainable Use and Development
The actions are to ensure sustainability in animal production systems, with a focus on food security and rural development.
The actions focus on steps needed to preserve genetic diversity and integrity, for the benefit of current and future generations.
- Policies, Institutions and Capacity-building
The actions directly address the key questions of practical implementation, through coherent and synergistic development of the necessary institutions and capacities.
The main responsibility for implementing the Global Plan of Action rests with national governments who appoint National Coordinators (NCs) to take charge of their national programmes. The implementation of the GPA by individual countries is facilitated by, and benefits from, the existence of international networks of NCs. Regional Focal Points and regional networking have a vital and important role in building collaborative partnerships, in coordinating regional management efforts in animal genetic resources, in further developing information sharing and enhancing technical cooperation, training and research. In Europe, this collaboration is co-ordinated by ERFP.
3. Operational Structure of ERFP
3.1 Assembly of National Coordinators
The Member States of ERFP are represented in the Assembly by National Coordinators who are nominated by the respective Ministry. The main decision making body of ERFP is the Assembly of NCs or their representatives. In addition, representatives of the European Commission, FAO, EAAP, NordGen and NGOs are invited as observers. An organisation chart is found below (Annex 1).
The Assembly brings together all NCs in the European region at the Annual Meeting, usually in connection to the annual EAAP conference. Other meetings might be organised if required. The Assembly approves the ERFP budget and provides overall technical and policy guidance to the operation of ERFP. It holds the overall responsibility for implementing the MYPOW. The Assembly may establish or terminate Working Groups, Task Forces and Ad hoc actions, takes decisions regarding their general scope and review progress made by them. It mandates and oversees the Steering Committee and the Secretariat to carry out its decisions. The Assembly meets annually.
The Annual Meeting consists of:
- presentation of results produced by the Working Groups, Task Forces and Ad hoc actions;
- exchange of information on relevant national and sub-regional activities;
- decision on the organisational and general functions within ERFP;
- discussion on and adoption of MYPOW with prioritised areas and respective budget allocation for the Working Groups, Task Forces and Ad hoc actions in the coming years;
- approval of the annual report and the account for the previous year (based on the auditor’s report which is focussed on reviewing the accomplishments of the decisions made at the previous years Assembly and SC meetings);
- approval of annual programme and budget for the coming year (the annual year equals the calendar year);
- election of the members and chair of the Steering Committee and auditors (who are all members of the Assembly);
- every four years, election of the Secretariat for a 4-years period.
The Assembly is chaired by the Chair of the Steering Committee.
Voting at the Assembly is by majority vote of the NCs except voting on financial matters where consensus is required. Voting can also take place by means of email when it is deemed necessary to do so.
3.2 Steering Committee (SC)
- consists of 5 members of the Assembly representing each of the European sub-regions – South, Central, East, West and North. The members are elected by the Assembly for a 4 year term of office. To ensure continuity, one member of the Steering Committee is replaced by a new member on an annual basis. A re-election is possible only after a break-period. The SC is headed by a chair being outside the regional consideration. The chair is elected by the Assembly for a 3 years term of office with the possibility of re-election for another 3 years.
- plans or executes the activities of the ERFP as decided upon by the Assembly of NCs – it evaluates project proposals and makes funding decisions on them.
- mandates the Secretariat in carrying out its decisions and monitors the financial position of the ERFP in conjunction with the Secretariat.
- establishes short-term Task Forces as required
- represents the ERFP in communications with other institutions within the mandate of the Assembly.
Decisions of the Steering Committee are made by consensus and can also taken by means of email when it is deemed necessary to do so.
The election of the Secretariat is made by the Assembly of NCs for a 4-year period. A re-election for a maximum of a second 4-year period is allowed. Proposals for hosting the Secretariat are invited by the Assembly one year before the end of the 4-year period from the NCs. NCs may propose offers made by any institution within their country they consider competent to host the Secretariat. Such offers should be made in a standardized format.
The responsibilities of the Secretariat are:
- to distribute relevant information on AnGR and to facilitate communication among the NCs
- to communicate with the Global Focal Point at FAO and other regional focal points
- to give secretarial support to the Assembly of the NCs and to organise its Annual Meeting
- to give secretarial support to the SC
- to execute decisions made by the Assembly and the SC
- to support the Working Groups, Task Forces and ad hoc actions such as the ERFP-funded projects as appropriate
- to be responsible for the financial management of the ERFP budget
- to provide technical and financial reports on a regular basis
- to maintain and update the ERFP website
- to publish the ERFP newsletter
4. ERFP activities
Individual countries are responsible for implementing the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources. The regional work is built on national activities and should provide a synergy between technical and advisory guidelines. The ERFP activities are carried out inter alia through Working Groups, Task Forces and ad hoc actions such as projects.
4.1 Working Groups
Working Groups (WG) are established by the Assembly on a permanent basis to work on long-term tasks.
Members of a Working Group should be experts in the respective task and should be nominated by their National Coordinator. NCs are invited to nominate one member for each Working Group. Each WG is coordinated by a WG chair elected by the WG members for a 3-years term of office. A re-election for one term is possible. The WG chair has the responsibility to present a draft annual work plan to the Annual Meeting of the Assembly of NCs for adoption. The WG chair should also oversee the implementation of the work plan, in liaison with the Secretariat and the SC, where appropriate, and to encourage involvement of all the WG members.
The WG budget available for implementing the work plan should be partitioned by year. Working groups will receive a fixed budget annually accepted by the Assembly. The budget may include travel costs for the WG meetings, the publication of reports and/or other actions,consumables and other costs. Durables will not be considered an eligible expense nor will be salaries.
The WG’s should be used to provide guidance on issues of a technical and advisory nature and should publish technical and advisory information for the benefit of all NC's. The technical and advisory material from the WG’s should reflect the requirements needed for the implementation of the Global Plan of Action. The Assembly of NCs will discuss and adopt the priority areas in accordance with the MYPOW. The WGs should facilitate the collaboration and networking of relevant stakeholders in the European region.
For information: at present, in 2010, two Working Groups are established on
- Ex situ conservation (cryo-conservation)
- Documentation and information
The membership of the working group on documentation and information will include a representative of the organization responsible for the maintenance and development of the EFABIS network and will also include a representative from the FAO and EAAP who will attend in the capacity of observer.
4.2 Task Forces
Task Forces (TF) are established by the Assembly or by the Steering Committee on a temporary basis to solve specific tasks.
Funds are reserved in the approved overall budget for TF activities. The mandate, budget, leader and members of the TF are decided by the Assembly or the SC and are based upon suggestions received from NCs. TF should consist of 3-8 experts, of which at least the leader should be a member of the Assembly. The budget would cover only the travel and meeting costs. TFs may be established whenever common views of the European region are needed or where a common action would be necessary in order to respond to an urgent issue in the AnGR sector.
TFs would deliver a report on the outcomes of their work to the Assembly.
For information: at present, in 2010, three Task Forces are established on
- Access and benefit sharing
- Risk status and indicators
- Agri-environmental measures.
4.3 Ad hoc actions
Ad hoc actions are usually decided by the Steering Committee in the form of projects or meetings to solve specific short-term problems ad hoc.
Currently, ERFP is funding 3 projects per year coordinated and carried out by NCs selected after evaluation of the proposals submitted in the ERFP Call for Action. The projects have successfully increased the collaboration between countries and as an outcome there are reports containing reviews and guidelines on relevant topics. The common projects serve also as an initiating platform for joint EU projects.
Ad hoc actions could therefore be in the form of projects, workshops, meetings or consultancies as decided by the Steering Committee.
The rules of procedure for ad hoc actions will be further elaborated upon in an annex to this document.
4.4 Information and communication tools
- ERFP website
- ERFP Newsletter
ERFP currently supports three information and communication tools: the ERFP website, the ERFP newsletter and the EFABIS database for AnGR in the European region.
The ERFP website plays an important role in enhancing the activities of ERFP and the dissemination of information. Currently, the website is maintained under contract by the BLE in Bonn.
The ERFP newsletter is published by the Secretariat approximately twice a year.
The EFABIS database has been created to serve as an information tool for the management and conservation of European Animal Genetic Resources. The EFABIS development and maintenance has been supported by EC funding. The current project EFABIS-Net will run until October 2010 and is coordinated by EAAP. ERFP currently supports EAAP for the management and improvement of the Database with the amount of 10,000 Euro per year.
At the moment the annual budget of the ERFP is proposed at 123,500 Euro. Contributions are received on a voluntary basis.
To reflect the activities of the ERFP, the annual budget is used on the following items: the Assembly, Steering Committee, Secretariat incl. the website, Working Groups, Task Forces, Ad hoc actions, EFABIS database and the EAAP fee for account keeping.
The budget is decided by the Assembly (see footnote 1).
The new funding approach is based on the Gross Domestic Product rating according to the FAO / UN scale, with categories from A to E (see Annex 2 in the Intranet). Country contributions are listed according to this scale, in the context of the overall required annual budget. The targeted sum of 123,500 Euro is required to ensure that sufficient funds are available in the transition period and to enhance ERFP activities in the future. In the proposed ERFP budget the lowest contribution would be 600 Euro and the highest would be 11,000 Euro.
Footnote 1: Formal decision concerning payment of annual contributions of the Member States is taken by the competent authorities within each country.
Annex 1: Organisational Structure of ERFP
(1) working groups: established on a permanent basis
(2) task forces: established on a temporary basis to solve specific tasks
(3) ad hoc actions: projects on a project basis to solve specific tasks
See Annex 2 document in the intranet.