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Our Work- Delivery Mechanisms

The Joint FAO/IAEA Centre's activities are carried out through two major delivery mechanisms: coordinated research projects and technical cooperation projects. Coordinated research projects are funded by the Joint Centre's regular budget and are implemented through research networks. Technical cooperation projects are funded by the IAEA's technical cooperation programme through voluntary contributions from Member States to carry out technology transfer and capacity building. In addition, a number of projects are implemented using extrabudgetary funding through mechanisms such as the ‘Peaceful Uses Initiative’, and partnerships are increasingly being developed with other international organizations, NGOs and the private sector to enhance delivery of results.

Coordinated Research Projects

Over 400 research institutes in Member States are cooperating with the Joint Centre in over 25 coordinated research projects (CRPs) annually. Each project aims to solve specific, practical problems of food and agricultural significance, primarily to developing countries. Key features include:

  • CRPs bring together research institutes from both developing and developed countries, creating networks to focus on solutions for specific research challenges. Research is done within a well-defined global or regional thematic or problem focus.
  • CRPs are composed of 10 to 15 research contract holders, primarily from developing Member States, two to five agreement holders mainly from developed Member States, and one to two technical contract holders that provide specific services to the CRP.
  • CRPs last for four to six years and participants meet every 18 months to share information and plan the next phase of their research.
  • A large number of techniques, methods and protocols have been developed, evaluated and validated through CRPs and subsequently transferred to Member States through IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme.
  • Although not directly funded by the CRPs, many young researchers have obtained advanced training through the participation of their institutes in CRPs – and many have obtained an MSc or PhD based on this work.
  • In general, the number of the female chief scientific investigators is increasing, with efforts continuing to increase the participation of women scientists.

Technical Cooperation Projects

The Joint Centre builds capacity and transfers technology to developing Members States through technical cooperation projects (TCPs), which are requested by Member States through official channels. In close liaison with the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation, the Joint Centre every year provides technical support and policy advice to over 200 TCPs in support of the mandates of FAO and IAEA. More than 100 training courses and workshops are organized annually, investing about US $14 million annually in these activities. Key features include:

  • TCPs are demand-driven and based on Member State development priorities, and therefore contribute to socioeconomic impact at a country level.
  • Appropriate technologies, often developed, improved or adapted at the Joint FAO/IAEA Agriculture & Biotechnology Laboratories at Seibersdorf, are field tested and further adapted to suit the technical and environmental conditions of the cooperating countries.
  • Capacity development is assisted through training, fellowships and the provision of laboratory equipment and upgrades.
  • TCPs generally lasts from two to four years depending on the subject and expected outcomes (simple versus complex projects). In exceptional cases, projects may be extended for one more year to complete pending tasks.

The Unique Feedback Loop

A key factor in the success of the Joint Centre during the past years has undoubtedly been the unique and highly responsive feedback loop ingrained in all its activities. Within this feedback loop, demand-driven applied research and development are linked to coordinated research activities and technical cooperation projects – two of the IAEA’s main delivery mechanisms in transferring nuclear technologies to Member States. The Joint Centre’s Laboratories, in close collaboration with more than 400 research institutes in Member States, research, develop and adapt new and existing technologies to suit local needs in Member States. This creates extraordinary opportunities for the Centre’s staff to work directly with external stakeholders and counterparts in Member States in meeting the often very specific challenges of primarily developing countries. During the subsequent technology transfer process, laboratory outputs are tested and disseminated in the field and results are fed back for further improvement and validation — providing the unique feedback loop that makes it possible for the Joint Centre to respond so effectively and proactively to the continuously evolving needs and circumstances of Member States.

Networking for South-South Cooperation

Actively supporting the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations, the Joint Centre is increasingly catalysing the sharing of knowledge, transfer of technology and building of capacity among different actors – including scientists, extension services, policy makers and the agricultural community at large – through the use of specialized networks. These networks have become important delivery mechanisms for capacity building and technology transfer to Member States, as well as important platforms for South-South cooperation.

To promote the practical use of nuclear techniques worldwide and help the IAEA implement its programmatic activities, the Agency also collaborates with designated Member State institutions in both developed and developing countries through its Collaborating Centre scheme. Focusing on research, development and training, this scheme helps reach important targets of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

The Joint Centre is the initiator, coordinator or focal institution of several specialized networks providing scientific, technical, financial and/or in-kind support. It is also a member of several networks where it plays an active but subordinate role; the latter are not listed here.

  • VETLAB – the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Network

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VETLAB) Network is an association of national veterinary laboratories in African and Asian countries; its expansion into Central and Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America is planned. The VETLAB network assists Member States to improve national laboratory capacities to early detect and control transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases threatening livestock and public health, including among others, peste des petits ruminants, African swine fever, highly pathogenic avian influenza, Ebola, Rift Valley fever and lumpy skin disease.

  • RALACA – the Red de Latino América y el Caribe Network

The Red de Latino America y el Caribe (RALACA) network brings together analytical laboratories in Latin America and the Caribbean to enhance regional capabilities to target food safety and environmental sustainability. Its objective is to strengthen the technical capabilities of the laboratories in the region, to promote scientific cooperation among member countries and to foster communication between relevant stakeholders, including decision makers. It is organized by a managing board, administration secretaries, technical committees and independent advisory scientists. In 2020, RALACA achieved the status of an independent legal entity, thereby enhancing its sustainability and reinforcing the ownership of the member institutes and countries.

  • AFoSaN – the African Food Safety Network

The African Food Safety Network (AFoSaN) brings together food safety and food control institutions in Africa. It includes food and veterinary laboratories, food inspectorates and other stakeholders, uniting to strengthen food safety control systems. Participants collaborate and share information on food matters and on analytical techniques. Analytical methods, such as Standard Operating Procedures, are shared through its web platform and other mechanisms. Dedicated activities include mutual training, the administration of regional proficiency tests on pesticide residues, mycotoxins and veterinary drug residues, support to internationally recognized laboratory accreditation and the organization of conferences.

  • FSA – the Food Safety Asia Network

The Food Safety Asia (FSA) network brings together food safety institutions in the Asia, Pacific and Middle East regions. It shares information, knowledge and expertise in laboratory work, provides training and supports accreditation and the improvement of analytical capabilities in the analysis of pesticide and veterinary drug residues, mycotoxins and other hazards, also through its web platform and other mechanisms. It contributes methods of analysis in the form of standard operation procedures (SOPs), and shares experience with instrumentation, its maintenance, troubleshooting and effective use.

  • TWD – the Tephritid Workers Database Network

The Tephritid Workers Database (TWD) network facilitates the collection and sharing of the tremendous volume of information and data among fruit fly workers, supports human capacity building and plays a key role in the global dissemination of information relating to tephritid fruit flies by providing up-to-date information about strategies, techniques, products and processes on the many basic and applied topics related to the area-wide integrated management of tephritid pests.

  • MBN – the Mutation Breeding Network

The Mutation Breeding Network (MBN) currently operates as a pilot network in the Asia Pacific region with plans to extend globally based on expression of interest and identified modes of successful operation within the pilot. The Asia Pacific region currently reports the largest number of crop varieties released through mutation breeding in the Mutant Variety Database of the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre.  The MBN, which held its first workshop in 2019, aims to enhance crop improvement through induced genetic diversity in the region by the exchange of technology, exchange of germplasm with bilateral national arrangements, training and capacity building, and other related aspects.

  • CMN – the Coffee Mutation Network

The Coffee Mutation Network (CMN) was established in 2016 and brings together institutes in coffee growing countries in Latin America as well as supporting institutes, such as Promecafe/IICA, the Coffee Rusts Research Centre (CIFC) in Portugal, the University of Vienna in Austria and World Coffee Research (WCR) in the USA. This network is specifically dedicated to the use of induced mutations to overcome the narrow genetic base of coffee and to provide new avenues for enhanced disease resistance and increased biodiversity.

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