Since its inception in 2013, the RDA has grown rapidly. As of March 2020, it now has almost 10,000 individual members based in over 144 countries. In light of this growth, the RDA Council concluded in 2017 that the overall strategy needed to be revisited to create a resilient organisation able to deliver on its commitments and satisfy the community and stakeholders. In November 2017, four sub-committees were created, one of which focused on regional engagement.
The first step in determining the relationship between RDA and potential regional members was for Council to draft a white paper. This was consulted on at Plenary 11 in Berlin where a decision was made to convene a small task force of regional representatives to further iterate the proposal. A draft framework that outlines the mutual expectations and benefits between RDA and the Regions was developed. This was reviewed by Council in June 2018 and an open regional engagement meeting was held at Plenary 12 in Gaborone to begin a period of consultation.
A revised version of the RDA Regional Engagement Framework document (v 4 - 3 March 2020) which includes the Regional engagement governance model is available for consultation here
Some clarifications on the Framework are provided below:
- RDA Regions are proposed as a new membership category. This does not supersede individual membership, which remains free and open to all, irrespective of whether the Region in which they are based is a contributing partner. This also does not supersede organisational membership of RDA. The implications of the regional engagement framework model for organisational membership will be investigated by Council together with the Organisational Advisory Board (OAB).
- The development of RDA Regions is envisaged as a mechanism to ensure the ongoing success and sustainability of RDA. Formal partnership arrangements will be agreed between the RDA Foundation and Regions to outline the contributions and benefits each brings to the partnership.
- Regions are expected to make a scaled financial contribution, based on GDP. In addition, there should be a separate in-kind staff contribution to the Secretariat. Several indicators besides GDP (e.g. GERD, grant agency budgets, population) were explored, but ultimately GDP was selected because of its acceptance as a global standard, easy access, reliability, and it is regularly updated. However, suggestions for other types of reliable indicators are welcome.
- Two new governance structures are proposed to give Regions a voice: 1) A broad-based Regional Assembly for contributing, new and aspiring Regions, and 2) A Regional Advisory Board which will consist of one representative from each contributing Region. Similar to the Organisational Advisory Board (OAB), the Regional Advisory Board will elect two Co-Chairs to participate on Council as consensus forming non-voting members. Funders from contributing Regions will also be invited to participate in the Funders Forum.
This coordination group is open to all members of RDA to join in order to keep abreast of the updates, news, webinars and documentation on RDA Regional Engagement.
The framework document is publicly available and we welcome comments from all RDA stakeholders.