Fifth Session of the Advisory Committee: Moving from the First Five to the Next Five Years

  • 2018/07/13     Dresden, Germany

    The fifth annual session of the Advisory Committee (AC) took place from 11–12 July this week. Committee Chair Prof. Rattan Lal (USA) opened the session and welcomed Dr Sabine Becker-Thierry (Germany), Chief of Staff of the United Nations University (UNU), who attended her inaugural session at UNU-FLORES.

    Prof. Lal and Dr Becker-Thierry were joined by the full strength of the AC: Prof. Karl-Heinz Feger (Germany), Prof. Adelaide Cassia Nardocci (Brazil), Prof. Wim van Vierssen (Netherlands), and Prof. Bancy Mati (Kenya), at the meetings in Dresden.

    Over the course of the two days, the UNU Chief of Staff and AC members met with academic and support staff to discuss the work and strategic plans of the Institute and provide guidance for the next twelve months.

    In her opening remarks to all staff at UNU-FLORES, Dr Becker-Thierry conveyed the warm regards of the Rector Dr David Malone and Executive Officer David Passarelli who could not be present. She went on to report on organisational developments and policy-related updates at UNU.

    Going forward, Dr Becker-Thierry stated that the goal is to anchor what has been achieved and five pillars that will shape the organisation’s further development are: securing sustainable funding, fostering synergies and a culture of innovation, continuing our orientation of research towards policy impact, communicating our successes, and promoting a gender-sensitive work culture.

    Prof. Lal took the opportunity to introduce the incoming Director of UNU-FLORES Prof. Edeltraud Günther to the AC and thanked Dr Kai Schwärzel, UNU-FLORES Officer-in-Charge, for his excellent interim directorship in providing continued leadership. The AC expressed full appreciation for his service and contributions.

    The members of the AC later individually welcomed Prof. Edeltraud Günther with words of congratulations and all look forward to the new cooperation. Prof. Lal also thanked everyone for the smooth transition.

    UNU-FLORES Officer-in-Charge Dr Kai Schwärzel presented the key results achieved since the previous AC session last year, setting the basis for discussions across the rest of the day. He spoke about the financial developments as well as the key academic and policy-relevant research undertaken, outlining examples of the Institute’s scientific impact trends concerning publications. In the presentation by Bastian Nebel, Finance and Administrative Officer, that followed, attention was paid particularly to the importance of diversifying funds.

    The afternoon was dedicated to presentations and discussions around the policy relevance of the research at UNU-FLORES as well as academic excellence through the Joint PhD Programme in Integrated Management of Water, Soil, and Waste of TU Dresden and UNU-FLORES. Head of the Capacity Development and Governance Unit Dr Mathew Kurian presented on the way the Institute approaches conducting policy-relevant research, using the development of the Wastewater Reuse Effectiveness Index (WREI) with UN-Habitat as an example. The discussions focused on appropriate benchmarks and indicators for measuring the impact of UNU-FLORES’s work, both scientifically but also in development projects and policy.

    Dr Stephan Hülsmann, Head of the Systems and Flux Analysis considering Global Change Assessment Unit presented on the foundation and evolution of the joint PhD Programme. The AC discussed with the staff about future funding schemes and the thematic framework.

    The second day of the meetings focused on strategic planning at UNU-FLORES, looking at the next five years. Rachel Ahrens, Communications & Advocacy Officer, presented on the expiration of the current strategic plan (2014–2018) and the efforts at the Institute to begin developing a new one. A discussion between the AC and staff was launched, which will continue in the coming months.

    Following a meeting with donor representatives from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany (BMBF) and the Saxon State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts, Free State of Saxony, Germany (SMWK), the AC paid a visit to the grounds of SMWK.

    The Advisory Committee is an organ providing advice and guidance to the Director of UNU-FLORES, in accordance with the general principles, policies, and criteria formulated by the Council of the United Nations University to govern the activities of the University. Each Advisory Committee member, appointed by the Rector in consultation with the Chairman of the Council of the University, serves in their individual capacity and has been selected in virtue of their experience, qualifications, and recognised competence in the disciplines and practices related to the purposes of UNU-FLORES. The Rector of the University and the Director of UNU-FLORES are ex-officio members of the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee elected Prof. Rattan Lal as Chairman and meets in regular session at least once a year, as convened by the Director.

    For more information about the AC members, please visit the Advisory Committee page.