WASAG – Le Cadre mondial contre la pénurie d’eau dans l’agriculture

WASAG - Terms of Reference

Background

Recognizing the importance and difficulty of ensuring global food security in the face of water scarcity and climate change, a number of entities, including governments, United Nations (UN) bodies, research institutes, universities, civil society organisations, companies and other institutions responded to the call of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to join a global framework for action to catalyse international cooperation on water scarcity in agriculture. 

In light of the growing interest in the initiative and at the invitation of FAO, a first Partners’ Meeting was held on 19 and 20 April 2017 at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, to determine how, and through which mechanisms, the Partners would further promote the initiative, increase their cooperation and better coordinate their efforts. The Partners’ Meeting resulted in the creation of a partnership initiative called “the Global Framework for Action on Water Scarcity” (“the Global Framework”) and the adoption, by the Partners and other Stakeholders, of the Rome Statement on Water Scarcity in Agriculture  (“the Rome Statement”). An Interim Steering Committee was also nominated, with the purpose, among others, to adopt finalized Terms of Reference. At their 3rd  meeting of 26 August 2017, the Interim Steering Committee agreed to change the short name of the Global Framework to WASAG. Finalized terms or reference of WASAG were adopted by the Interim Steering Committee on 03 July 2018. On the same date, the process of electing a new Steering Committee governed by the present Terms of Reference started, to replace the Interim Steering Committee at the next Partners meeting. 

Vision, Mission, Objectives and Guiding Principles

The vision, mission and objectives of WASAG are as follows: 

Vision: a world whose food systems are secure and resilient to increasing water scarcity in a changing climate.

Mission: to support measurable, significant and sustainable progress on improving and adapting agricultural systems in conditions of increasing water scarcity and a changing climate, using the combined expertise and resources of the Partners.

Objectives: to urgently address the following important and relevant work areas at international and country levels: 

  • Advocating for political prioritization.
  • Cooperating on work programmes.
  • Sharing and disseminating knowledge and experience.
  • Developing new or improved solutions.
  • Promoting sustainable and integrated water resources management.
  • Building capacity of Partners and countries and other Stakeholders.
  • Contributing to consistent monitoring systems.

The guiding principles of WASAG are:

  • Partners and other Stakeholders work towards a common goal, with success determined by the commitment of each one.
  • Dialogue is facilitated across a broad range of actors and sectors, and diverse parties are aligned around the common vision.
  • Partners and other Stakeholders realize mutual benefits from the process through win-win agreements and, in so doing, learn from each other.
  • Equity and inclusiveness are assured for all Partners.
  • Transparency and accountability are ensured through agreement on leadership mechanisms, including participation in decision-making, and modalities for cooperation.

Nature of WASAG

WASAG is not an autonomous legal entity but, rather, a flexible, light and consensual coordination mechanism, supported by FAO. WASAG is an open platform for Partners to voluntarily collaborate and coordinate their activities in support of the achievement of the vision, mission and objectives laid out above, linking participants by their shared commitment to intensify their efforts to address water scarcity in agriculture in a changing climate.

Partners

WASAG is open to a broad range of entities, such as States, international organizations, civil society organisations, academia, private sector entities and trade associations. 

Entities wishing to become Partners of WASAG must adhere to the vision, mission, objectives and guiding principles of WASAG, as well as to the Rome Statement. Participation of non-State, including private sector, entities is subject to the requirements laid down in the Guidelines on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Business Community* and the FAO policies and guidelines for collaboration with the private sector, academia and the civil society**.

Consequently, prospective private sector, academia and civil society partners will be subject to the FAO mechanisms for assessing adherence to those Guidelines***.

The Partners meet at least every two years to agree on priorities, general objectives, plans and proposals for the activities of WASAG. 

The Partners plan, budget, provide their own resources for, and implement their own activities on, agricultural systems under increasing water scarcity in a changing climate under their own responsibility. Under the umbrella of WASAG, they seek to cooperate and coordinate such activities. In this context, they may decide to temporarily organize themselves in national, regional or thematic groups and networks to coordinate activities under their own programmes or jointly develop plans for activities to come under WASAG. As such, Partners may propose, individually or collectively, at the Partners’ Meeting or through a Steering Committee, to place ongoing or future self-funded activities on agricultural systems under increasing water scarcity in a changing climate to be placed under the umbrella of WASAG. The Partners may also, subject to the availability of resources and the approval of the Steering Committee, receive funding or other support for the implementation of activities under WASAG. In all cases, the placement of an activity under the umbrella of WASAG and the allocation of funding received by WASAG for such activities require the collective endorsement of the Partners.

Other Stakeholders

Other Stakeholders are entities which are not Partners, but who express an interest in the work of WASAG and wish to contribute to its success. Similarly to Partners, they adhere to the vision, mission, objectives and guiding principles of WASAG, as well as to the Rome Statement, and are subject to the same assessment process by the Steering Committee and FAO as Partners. Other Stakeholders may participate in the Partners’ Meetings and be invited to Steering Committee meetings without taking part in the decision-making process.

Mechanisms for coordination

In order to achieve its mission and objectives, a variety of modalities exist for the exchange of views, planning and prioritization of activities, and coordination. The main platform is the Partners’ Meeting, which takes place at least every two years. The website of WASAG hosted by FAO is also an important tool to keep Partners and other Stakeholders informed of activities during the period between the Partners’ Meetings. The purpose and methods of work of the Partners’ Meetings are described in the annex on operational mechanisms.

A Steering Committee supports the implementation of activities towards the achievement of the objectives and priorities agreed upon by the Partners. It ensures continuity of activities and monitors progress made on planned activities during the period between the Partners’ Meetings. This is a representative group, selected by the Partners. The Steering Committee keeps the Partners informed and can make recommendations to the Partners. The composition, purpose and working methods of the Steering Committee are described in the annex.

Role of FAO

FAO, under its mandate and institutional framework, and within its programme of work and budget, provides operational and administrative support to WASAG, including technical support and advocacy. Accordingly, the day-to-day activities supporting WASAG are undertaken in line with FAO’s rules, procedures and policies.

In light of its primary role in the establishment of WASAG and its day-to-day functioning, FAO is a permanent Partner of WASAG and a permanent Member of the Steering Committee.

Financial arrangements

Consistent with its nature as a voluntary, collaborative platform with the primary objective of strengthening the coordination of the efforts of the Partners, there is no mandatory requirement upon any Partner to make a financial contribution to support the activities of WASAG.

Participation in WASAG, including attendance at any meetings related to WASAG, is at each Partner’s own cost.

The costs of all activities of the Partners in relation to WASAG are to be met from their own resources, except for specific activities to be funded under WASAG, as approved by the Steering Committee and endorsed by the Partners collectively.

Any funds made available to WASAG will be administered in accordance with the Financial Regulations, rules and procedures of FAO. They shall be exclusively dedicated to substantive activities, except as otherwise provided in the present Terms of Reference.


Annex: Operating mechanisms

1. Partners and the Partners Meeting

1.1 The main forum for the Partners to collaborate under WASAG is the Partners’ Meeting, which is held at least every two years. The Partners may also collaborate through national, regional or thematic groups and networks, as well as through the FAO-hosted website of the Global Framework. 

1.2 Partners are classified into five Groups:

Group 1: United Nations agencies and other United Nations bodies.

Group 2: Other intergovernmental organizations and State actors (including governments, public and governmental agencies).

Group 3: Academia and Research institutions. 

Group 4: Civil society organizations, including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Group 5: Private sector organizations and trade associations.

1.3 The main purpose of the Partners’ Meeting is for the Partners to: 

  • elect and nominate the Steering Committee, paying due regard to geographical, sectorial and gender balance; 
  • discuss and agree on priorities, general objectives, plans and proposals for the activities of WASAG, and review progress made towards the implementation of its planned activities and the achievement of the mission and objectives of WASAG; and 
  • entrust the Steering Committee with those tasks it considers appropriate to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of the activities planned to take place under the umbrella of WASAG. 

1.4 The Partners, either at the Partners’ Meeting or by electronic means if waiting for its occurrence would delay the activities of the Global Framework: 

  • endorse the setting-up of temporary national, regional and thematic groups and networks aimed at advancing the objectives of the Global Framework, which the Steering Committee may decide to recommend approving as coming under the Global Framework, and receive reports on progress made by such groups and networks; 
  • consider proposals for relevant self-funded ongoing or future activities of the Partners to be placed under the umbrella of the Global Framework; 
  • consider proposals for the allocation of funds made available to the Global Framework for specific activities.

1.5 The required quorum to hold a Partners’ Meeting, whether in person or by electronic means, will be constituted by the participation of the simple majority of the total number of Partners. Efforts should be made to reach decisions by consensus. When voting is necessary, decisions will be adopted by simple majority of the participating Partners, each Partner having one vote. 

1.6 The nomination of the Steering Committee will follow the following rules: 

  • between one and six seats on the Steering Committee are allocated to each Group so as to respect the proportion of Partners per Group; 
  • the precise number of seats open for election for each Group is determined on the basis of the Partnership of WASAG two months before the elections; 
  • only those who are Partners of WASAG two month prior to an election may participate in the election;
  • following a call for nomination of candidates, a list of candidates is drawn for each Group;  
  • Partners, including those who are candidates, will be requested to vote for all seats open for election in accordance with the number of seats allocated for each Group.
  • for each Group, the candidate(s) who will receive the highest number of votes will be elected so as to fill the seat(s) allocated to that Group.
  • if in a Group there are less candidates than the number of allocated seats for that Group, the remaining seats will be proportionally allocated to the other Groups 
  • on a strictly exceptional basis, the election and nomination of the Steering Committee may be by electronic means.

2. Other Stakeholders

Other Stakeholders may attend Partners’ Meetings and participate in its discussions, without taking part in any decision-making process. Similarly, they may be invited to Steering Committee meetings. Other Stakeholders may circulate to the Partners’ Meeting and the Steering Committee the views of the entities which they represent.

3. The Steering Committee

3.1 The Steering Committee supports the implementation of the work programme of the Global Framework agreed upon by the Partners, and is accountable to the Partners. 

3.2 The Steering Committee meets at least once a year, including on the side of the Partners’ Meeting. Between its meetings, the Steering Committee may meet or take decisions by electronic means subject to the quorum being met. Partners that are not members of the Steering Committee may attend its meetings as observers. The Steering Committee may also decide to invite other Stakeholders to attend its meetings.

3.3 The Steering Committee is normally composed of 14 or 15 Members (including FAO and the Chairperson) depending on whether the Chairperson is nominated from among the Members or not, representing Partners from all types of Partner organisations. However, the Steering Committee may decide, without the Partners having to organize new elections, to  co-opt up to four additional Members from the Partners, preferably from the candidates at the preceding elections, in order to ensure a better geographical, sectorial or gender balance among Steering Committee Members. 

3.4 FAO is a permanent Member of the Steering Committee, while the other 13 Members and the additional Members are nominated for two-year terms and may not serve on the Steering Committee for more than two consecutive terms.

3.5 To ensure both rotation in the membership of the Steering Committee and continuity in its work, the six Members of the Steering Committee elected with the highest number of votes will have a four-year term while the remaining Members will have a two-year term. 

3.6 Subject to the approval of the Steering Committee, following close consultation with FAO, each Member designates a representative as well as an alternate who may represent the Member if the representative is unable to attend a meeting of the Steering Committee. In such case, the alternate will have the same power, rights and obligations as the representative. The Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson cannot designate alternates or otherwise delegate their powers, rights and obligations.

3.7 Any Member of the Steering Committee may be represented at meetings, whether in person or by electronic means, by another Member provided a proxy is signed. No Member may represent more than two other Members.

3.8 The required quorum for the Steering Committee to meet, whether in person or by electronic means, will be the simple majority of the total number of Steering Committee Members, including the Chairperson. Efforts should be made to reach decisions by consensus. When voting is necessary, decisions will be adopted by simple majority of participants with voting power, each Member, including the Chairperson having one vote. 

3.9 The seat of a Member who is not represented at three consecutive Steering Committee meetings will be considered vacant. In such case, the Steering Committee may decide, without the Partners having to organize new elections, to co-opt a new Member from one of the Partners belonging to the same Group, preferably from the candidates at the preceding elections, in order to fill the vacant seat. 

3.10 The Steering Committee:

  • elects and nominates its Chairperson; 
  • coordinates the activities of WASAG to give effect to the priorities, plans and proposals agreed between the Partners at the Partners’ Meetings, including by monitoring progress made; 
  • reviews proposals of Partners to organize temporary national, regional and thematic groups and networks, and makes recommendations to the Partners (either at the Partners’ Meeting or through electronic means), as to whether to endorse such groups and networks as coming under WASAG; 
  • considers, and recommends to the Partners (either at the Partners’ Meeting or through electronic means) whether to approve, proposals for relevant self-funded ongoing or future activities of the Partners to be placed under the umbrella of WASAG; 
  • considers, and recommends to the Partners (either at the Partners’ Meeting or through electronic means) whether to approve, proposals regarding the allocation of funds made available to WASAG; 
  • liaises with the Partners and national, regional or thematic groups and networks as necessary and receives reports on progress made by such groups and networks;
  • in close consultation with FAO, handles requests to become Partners of WASAG and any issue that may arise regarding the membership of a Partner (which will be addressed in light of the applicable UN and FAO guidelines and procedures), as well as requests from other Stakeholders to be part of WASAG;
  • assists the Partners in the organization of the Partners’ Meetings, including centralizing and reviewing propositions of candidacies for future Steering Committee Members.

3.11 In undertaking its activities, the Steering Committee works closely with the FAO personnel providing support to WASAG.

3.12 The Members of the Steering Committee do not receive remuneration for their work. 

4. Chairperson of the Steering Committee

4.1 The Chairperson of the Steering Committee chairs the Partners’ Meetings in addition to the meetings of the Steering Committee. The Chairperson serves at all times in an independent capacity, representing the interest of all the Partners, and is accountable to the Partners. The Chairperson keeps the Steering Committee regularly informed of, and provides a report to the Partners’ Meeting, on activities undertaken by the Steering Committee.

4.2 The Chairperson is elected and nominated by the Steering Committee following its establishment for a two-year term, renewable once. 

4.3 Suggestions of candidates for the position of Chairperson of the Steering Committee may be submitted to the Steering Committee, through FAO, by the Partners and Steering Committee Members. 

4.4 The candidate who receives more votes is elected. In case of a tie, a new vote is organized to select the Chairperson from among the tied candidates.

4.5 The Chairperson may be selected from among the Members. The Members may agree to nominate as Chairperson a representative of a Partner or other Stakeholder, or from outside. The candidacies of individuals who are not representatives of Partners or other Stakeholders are reviewed by FAO prior to their consideration  by the Steering Committee. The nomination of a Chairperson from outside the Members will automatically result in an additional seat on the Steering Committee.

4.6 If the nomination of a Vice-Chairperson is deemed necessary by the Steering Committee, the same conditions as those applicable for the Chairperson will apply. 

4.7 In case of temporary absence during a meeting of the Steering Committee or a Partners’ Meeting of the Chairperson, and of the Vice-Chairperson if one has been nominated, the Steering Committee or the Partners’ Meeting, as the case may be, will appoint another Member or Partner, as the case may be, to act as Chairperson until the Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson is able to serve again.

5. Role of FAO

5.1 FAO plays a facilitative and coordinating role, supporting the implementation of activities under the umbrella of WASAG, organizing relevant meetings and undertaking such other activities as may be appropriate to advance the mission and objectives of WASAG.

5.2 FAO, within the limits of available resources:

  • provides personnel to support WASAG, as part of their official duties and under the supervision of their regular FAO supervisors; 
  • provides training and support to individual Partners, national, regional and thematic groups and networks in their activities and fundraising efforts;
  • may, upon consultation with the Steering Committee, implement particular activities related to the priorities of the Partners, for which it has a comparative advantage, such as research, monitoring, dissemination, publishing or reporting and which are in accordance with the priorities set by FAO; 
  • maintains a list of the Partners and other Stakeholders, keeps in regular contact with them, and stays informed of their relevant activities; 
  • reviews requests to become Partners of WASAG in light of the applicable UN and FAO guidelines and procedures, and advises the Steering Committee on those requests; similarly, reviews requests from other Stakeholders to be part of WASAG;
  • establishes and maintains contacts with other relevant groups and partnerships for the purpose of advancing the mission and objectives of WASAG;
  • conducts technical reviews of activities proposed to be placed under the umbrella of WASAG. 

5.3 In addition, FAO provides the means necessary for the functioning of WASAG. As such, it:

  • provides office and meeting space and a website hosted within the FAO website;
  • provides IT, financial and legal services and all other appropriate administrative services that may be required (procurement, management of financial contributions, conclusion of personnel arrangements);
  • administers any funds made available to WASAG in accordance with the FAO Financial Regulations, rules and procedures. 

The Guidelines on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Business Community  

** Such policies and guidelines are set out in the FAO Strategy for Partnerships with the Private SectorFAO Guidelines for Partnerships and Collaboration with the Private Sector, and the FAO Strategy for Partnerships with Civil Society Organizations.

*** UN System organizations and other entities with which the FAO has a general collaboration agreement in place will be considered to meet those Guidelines. 

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