JPI HDHL international partnership: interview with a Management Board member from New Zealand
The outgoing New Zealand Science and Innovation Counsellor to the EU, Bruce McCallum, has represented New Zealand as both an observer to the JPI HDHL Management Board (in 2013-15), and a full member of the Management Board (in 2015-17). He has also been a member of the JPI HDHL Steering Committee for the past eighteen months. We take this opportunity, at the end of his posting to Brussels, to seek his views on JPI HDHL’s past, present and future.
How did you first know about JPI HDHL?
"New Zealand first became aware of JPIs through our development of the Global Research Alliance for Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA), which led to our participation in a joint call between FACCE-JPI and several GRA members in 2013. We subsequently developed relationships with both of the other two 'bio-economy' JPIs - HDHL and OCEANS - based on the close alignment of our respective scientific interests."
What have been the main drivers for NZ to become a full member and an active partner?
"JPI HDHL's broad food and nutrition research agenda touches on a range of New Zealand's core social and economic interests, from domestic public health considerations to the development of high-value nutrition products for export markets. The ability to choose flexibly from a range of activities, and to engage with several key partner countries at the same time, are also particularly attractive features of the system."
What about your experience of the JPI instrument and the HDHL management?
"That the JPI has managed to leverage a significant amount of funding from across Europe and beyond, after starting from scratch just five years ago, is testament to the dedication of its members, the ability of its leadership, and the concentrated efforts of its secretariat. It has been a privilege to experience first-hand the European concepts of "unity in diversity" and "variable geometry" in action, and a pleasure to engage actively in the JPI's activities to the mutual benefit of researchers on both sides of the world."
Main strengths and weaknesses of NZ participating in joint activities (JPI ones and the ERA-NET Co-funds)?
"The success of joint programming hinges on alignment at, and between, three levels - international, European, and national. The degree of effort a country puts into alignment at all three of these levels can ultimately determine its level of impact across the board. This applies equally, in my view, to European and non-European member countries alike."
Any suggestions for the future to improve NZ participation and other international partnerships?
"New Zealand is still a relatively new member of JPI HDHL. Having a place on the Management Board will help us to respond further to the right opportunities at the right time.
JPI HDHL’s new international alignment project will bring opportunities for non-European countries to understand the opportunity afforded by the JPI, and indeed vice versa for the JPI to gain a deeper understanding of those countries and their relevant research and related policies. New Zealand is in fact leading the JPI's efforts in this regards in the Asia-Pacific region, which may also help us to further raise the profile of JPI HDHL at the domestic level."