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Friday, 18 December 2009 03:02


The competent Institutions of China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, recognising that declining soil fertility and increasing soil erosion are creating increasing problems for the small scale farmers of the Humid Tropics in the Asia and Pacific region, and realizing the mutual advantages to be derived from the effective and systematic exchange of information and experience as well as mutual technical cooperation in the development and dissemination of improved conservation technologies and land use planning approaches for tackling the problems of soil and water conservation at the small-scale farmer level; have reached the following understanding on the establishment of the Asia Soil Conservation Network for the Humid Tropics (ASOCON):

ARTICLE I - Definitions
For the purposes of this Memorandum of Understanding:

a) "Conservation" shall mean the conservation of both soil and water;
b) "Small-scale farmer" shall mean the farmer and his/her household members engaged in farming activities on a small-scale basis with the aim of meeting some or all of the welfare needs of the farm family from crop, livestock and/or tree production
c) "Region" shall mean the humid tropics of Asia and the Pacific;
d) "Participant" shall mean a relevant Institution that has signed this Memorandum of Understanding or has been accepted subsequently in accordance with Article IV.3;
e) "ASOCON" shall mean the Asia Soil Conservation Network for the Humid Tropics;
f) "Consultative Board" shall mean the Consultative Board of ASOCON;
g) "Regional Co-ordinator" shall mean the Regional Co-ordinator for ASOCON;
h) "National Co-ordinator" shall mean the official appointed by a Participant to take responsibility for coordinating ASOCON activities at the national level and to represent his Institution on the Consultative Board of ASOCON;

3. For the purpose of achieving its objectives ASOCON may undertake the following activities:

i) The collection, compilation and dissemination of information concerning the situation within the region with regard to the severity of the problem of declining land productivity, the existing national programmes and activities and the various Government departments, ministries and institutions and Non Government agencies involved in conservation programmes at the small-scale farm level.
ii) Documentation of successful conservation practices and innovative techniques (both farmers' traditional practices and research and extension recommendations) from within the region with a view to technology transfer.
iii) Publication of a newsletter at least 3 times a year to promote ASOCON's activities.
iv) Preparation of case studies of past and ongoing conservation projects, traditional and improved conservation farming practices for the purpose of subjecting them to environmental, and/or economic and financial appraisal so as to evaluate the reasons for success or failure of the projects and conservation effectiveness and adoptability of the practices.
v) Organization of periodic regional workshops and seminars to facilitate the exchange of experience between subject matter specialists designated by Participants.
vi) Implementation of a series of regional action learning and development programmes each with its own programme of regional and national level activities that may include regional workshops, expert consultations, and training linked with collaborative in country research and development, extension and training activities.
vii) Promotion of inter-country exchange of research and extension staff, and regional training opportunities on TCDC basis in recognition of the experience, expertise and resources existing within the region.
viii) Provision of advice and training in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national programmes and projects, principally those of regional interest, in the field of soil and water conservation.
ix) Other activities which are required to achieve the above objectives..

ARTICLE III - Structure of Cooperation

1. Unless otherwise decided by the Participants, at a meeting of the Consultative Board, the Co-ordination Unit shall be located within the Ministry of Forestry, Jakarta, Indonesia.

2. The organs of ASOCON shall be:

a) The Consultative Board.
b) The Co-ordination Unit.
c) Other organs which are deemed necessary by the Participants through their participation in the Consultative Board.

ARTICLE IV - Membership

1. The relevant Institution of any member of the United Nations, or of any of its Specialized Agencies or the International Atomic Energy Agency located within the Humid Tropics of Asia and the Pacific may become a Participant by signing this Memorandum of Understanding or being accepted in accordance with Article IV.3.

2. Participants shall be represented by the National Coordinator of their National Network and by a National Network Co-ordination Committee. Membership of the individual National Networks shall be open to the following:

i) Government departments/ministries/institutions/ agencies etc. concerned with the issue of soil and water conservation at the small-scale farm level;
ii) Para-statal focal institutions and Universities concerned with soil and water conservation research and development, and extension and training; and
iii) Non-governmental organizations, in both the voluntary and commercial sectors, with direct involvement in extension, training and research programmes concerned with soil and water conservation at the small-scale farm level.

3. The relevant Institution of any member of the United Nations, or of any of its Specialized Agencies or the International Atomic Energy Agency located within the Humid Tropics of Asia and the Pacific which has not signed this Memorandum of Understanding by 31st December 1993, which wishes to become a Participant, shall apply in writing to the Regional Co-ordinator. on receipt of the application for participation, the Regional Co-ordinator shall inform all Participants thereof. The first Consultative Board meeting following receipt of the application (subject to a minimum 30 days notice) shall decide thereon and the decision shall be communicated to the applicant within 30 days of the meeting.

4. i) Any Participant may withdraw from ASOCON after the expiration of one year from the date on which membership of ASOCON was acquired, by giving written notice of withdrawal in original and duplicate copies to the Regional Co-ordinator with copies to the National Co-ordinators of the other Participants. Withdrawals from ASOCON shall become effective one year from the date of receipt by the Regional Coordinator of a notice of withdrawal, provided that during the period of such one year, a Participant withdrawing from ASOCON shall nevertheless remain liable for the discharge of obligations incurred under the provisions of this Memorandum of Understanding.
ii) Any Participant that fails to pay its annual contribution for two consecutive years shall forfeit membership rights until full payment is made.

ARTICLE V - Rights and obligations of Participants

1. Participants shall, in accordance with this Memorandum of Understanding and decisions of the Consultative Board, have the right:

i) to be represented by the National Co-ordinator or his nominated alternate at meetings of the Consultative Board;
ii) to nominate at least one participant to attend all expert consultations, workshops, training courses and other meetings organized under the auspices of ASOCON;
iii) to request and obtain information, within ASOCON, on matters of its own concern related to soil and water conservation;
iv) to request that one or more of the other Participants agree to participate in the mutual inter-country exchange of research and extension staff, for the purposes of making study tours and participating in regional training opportunities;
v) to request the co-ordination unit for assistance, including guidelines, for obtaining technical and financial assistance and the collaboration of the other Participants and other agencies from within and outside the region for tackling conservation problems of national interest; and
vi) to receive publications, unprinted media material and other information that may be produced and distributed by ASOCON.

2. Participants shall, in accordance with this Memorandum of Understanding and the decisions of the Consultative Board, have the following obligations:

i) to meet their obligations towards ASOCON including their annual contributions;
ii) to collaborate in the running of ASOCON through their active participation in Consultative Board meetings;
iii) provide, promptly, information reasonably requested by ASOCON, which is not contrary to any regulations of the country concerned;
iv) to take steps to facilitate the entry of persons acting on behalf of other Participants when hosting a regional workshop, expert consultation, training course or other meeting under the auspices of ASOCON subject to those persons meeting the immigration and security requirements of the host country;
v) to take steps to facilitate the entry of persons acting on behalf of other Participants as part of ASOCON's programme of inter-country exchange visits and on the job-training attachments subject to those persons meeting the immigration and security requirements of the host country;
vi) undertake any assignments that may be mutually agreed between the Participants and ASOCON; and
vii) in general, collaborate with ASOCON in the fulfilment of ASOCON's objectives

ARTICLE VI - Consultative Board 1. The Consultative Board shall function as a steering committee and policy making body for ASOCON.

2. The Consultative Board may make recommendations to Participants on any matters pertaining to the aims and functions of ASOCON as set forth in Article II of this Memorandum of Understanding.

3. The membership of the Consultative Board shall comprise the National Co-ordinators representing the Participants. If the National Co-ordinator is unable to attend a meeting, he may nominate an alternate to act in his place. The National Co-ordinators (or alternates) shall have the authority to take decisions on behalf of the Participant concerning the operation and activities of ASOCON.

4. Each National Co-ordinator (or alternate) shall have one vote.

5. The Chairman of each meeting of the Consultative Board shall be the National Co-ordinator representing the Participant in which country the meeting takes place. The Regional Co-ordinator shall act as Secretary to the Board meetings.

6. The Consultative Board shall meet at least once a year, at the time and place decided by the previous meeting, on a rotating basis around the region. The Secretary shall despatch the announcement of the meeting at least 60 days in advance of the opening date. The letter of invitation, along with the necessary documents shall be sent to the National Co-ordinators at least 30 days before the date fixed for the opening session. If the Consultative Board at its previous meeting was unable to fix a time and place for the next meeting, the Secretary in consultation with the National Co-ordinators through correspondence, is then authorized to fix the venue, time and date of the meeting.

7. A majority of the Participants shall constitute a quorum.

8. The Secretary may call an extraordinary meeting of the Consultative Board at the request of a group of the National Co-ordinators representing not less than half of the Participants. The Secretary shall decide the agenda, time and place of an extraordinary meeting, after taking into consideration proposals made by the Participants.

9. The provisional agenda of each ordinary meeting of the Consultative Board shall include, as appropriate:

i) adoption of the agenda;
ii) approval of the previous meetings minutes;
iii) matters arising from the previous minutes;
report by the Regional Co-ordinator on activities undertaken since the previous meeting;
v) reports by the National Co-ordinators;
vi) report from the ASOCON Information Service;
vii) reports from other technical support staff within the Co-ordination Unit, if any;
viii) future planned and proposed activities;
ix) report on financial income and expenditure since the previous meeting;
x) consideration of the annual budget for future activities;
xi) proposals for amendments of the Memorandum of Understanding;
xii )
applications and conditions for admission of new Participants;
xiii) consideration of the date and venue of the next meeting of the Consultative Board; and
xiv ) any other business proposed by the Co-ordination Unit or any Participant.

10. The provisional agenda for an extraordinary meeting shall include the special item for which the meeting is being called and other items proposed by the Secretary or by a Participant.

11. At its ordinary meeting, the Consultative Board shall:

i) consider the report on the activities of ASOCON since the previous meeting with a view to monitoring progress and making changes to the work programme both in the light of experience gained from its implementation and in accordance with the changing priorities and circumstances of the Participants;
ii) consider and approve the annual budget and audited financial statements of expenditure incurred for the operation of ASOCON and the implementation of ASOCON activities;
iii) decide on the appointment of an auditor;
iv) consider and approve the plans prepared by the Co-ordination Unit for the development and implementation of the future work programme of ASOCON taking into consideration the financial, technical and administrative requirements of the programme, this to include agreement as to which Participant will host particular ASOCON activities at the regional level;
v) consider for approval such contracts negotiated and agreements entered into by the Co-ordination Unit on behalf of ASOCON since the previous meeting, with donor(s) and/or other agencies/ institutions;
vi) determine the date and venue of the next Consultative Board Meeting
vii) consider and take action on other matters presented to it by the Regional Co-ordinator;
viii) decide on applications for membership of ASOCON, by a unanimous vote of all Participants represented at the meeting;
ix) determine the annual contribution payable by the Participants by unanimous vote of all Participants represented at the meeting; and
x) adopt and amend the rules and regulations of ASOCON as required, by unanimous vote of all Participants represented at the meeting.

12. The Consultative Board may establish such subsidiary bodies as it deems necessary.

ARTICLE VII - Co-ordination unit

1. The Participant in which the Co-ordination Unit is located shall be responsible for seconding a senior officer, from the department/ministry acting as host agency, to serve as Regional Co-ordinator to ASOCON. He/she shall be supported by a Programme Officer also seconded from within the host agency. In addition the Consultative Board may request the host agency to provide additional administrative support staff to assist the Regional Co-ordinator in the fulfilment of his duties and responsibilities to ASOCON. The host agency shall also provide suitably equiped offices for the Co-ordination Unit.

2. The Regional Co-ordinator shall:

i) be responsible for the day-to-day administration of ASOCON;
ii) convene the Consultative Board Meetings;
iii) ensure co-ordination among all Participants of ASOCON;
iv) organize regional workshops, expert consultations, training courses and other meetings in accordance with the approved programme of work;
v) initiate proposals for joint collaborative programmes with other international and regional bodies as mentioned in Article II;
vi) be responsible for the financial management of ASOCON under the supervision of the Consultative Board and arrange an annual audit with the report of the auditors being distributed to all Participants;
vii) arrange for the production of a newsletter covering conservation activities in the Region;
viii) take overall responsibility for the operation of a regional information service that will provide the Participants with easy access to information on conservation related matters from other Participants and, as appropriate, from other regions;
ix) take action on other matters consistent with the objectives mentioned in Article II; and
x) perform any other function as may be specified by the Consultative Board.

3. In the interest of continuity of work and availability of professional guidance, a Participant, through the Consultative Board, may approach the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other Regional and International Agencies for assistance in providing a technical soil conservation adviser, other technical expert(s) and bi-lingual secretary(ies) for the technical development and implementation of ASOCON's activities in the initial years of ASOCON.

ARTICLE VIII - National Networks 1. Each Participant shall appoint a senior officer from the department with primary responsibility for conservation at the small-scale farm level as their National Co-ordinator.

2. The National Co-ordinator shall serve as the focal point in his country for ASOCON and shall be responsible for ASOCON activities at the national level. He shall also be responsible for the co-ordination of all inputs from the national institutions and projects supplying information to the Co-ordination Unit.

3. Each Participant shall establish a National Netw ork Coordinating Committee, comprising representatives of the different interested agencies involved nationally in soil conservation programmes, to assist the National Coordinator in co-ordinating ASOCON activities within the country.

4. Each Participant shall determine the organization and operating procedures of its National Network.

5. Each Participant shall be responsible for providing the requisite financial and manpower resources to operate its National Network.

ARTICLE IX - Revenues and Disbursement

1. The Regional Co-ordinator shall submit to the Consultative Board the annual budget for ASOCON for approval.

2. The financial accounting period of ASOCON shall be the calendar year.

3. Each Participant undertakes to pay an annual contribution. Decisions on the amount and/or form of the annual
contribution shall be taken by the Consultative Board in consultation with the appropriate financial authorities of the Participants.

4. The financial resources of ASOCON shall be derived from:

i) Annual contributions by Participants; and

ii) voluntary contributions from Participants as well as grants and donations from other sources as well as other income.

5. The Regional Co-ordinator, acting on behalf of the Consultative Board, shall have full power and authority to:

i) incur expenses in connection with the administration and operation of ASOCON;

ii) collect, receive and acknowledge contributions and place them in appropriate bank accounts, on behalf of ASOCON;

iii) open, operate and close bank accounts in the countries of the region or any other countries approved by the Consultative Board on behalf of ASOCON; and

iv) authorize, record and account for all the disbursements made by or on behalf of ASOCON.

ARTICLE X - Cost-sharing

1. Each Participant shall provide an annual contribution as a cost sharing contribution to the operating costs of the Coordination Unit and for the production costs of the newsletter.

2. Each Participant shall meet the costs (airfare, DSA and transit expenses) involved in the participation of its National Co-ordinator in the meetings of the Consultative Board.

3. In the initial years of ASOCON cost sharing between the Coordination Unit and the Participants with regard to the convening of regional workshops, expert consultations and training courses as part of ASOCON work programme shall be as per the following breakdown:

a) Responsibility of the Co-ordination unit using voluntary contributions from Participants, grants and donations from other sources and other incomes:

* International airfares (and any domestic air travel in the country in which the meeting is being held) for the external participants

* Board and lodging and pocket money allowance for the external participants.

* All costs associated with consultants and external resource persons.

* Honoraria and any board and lodging expenses associated with the use of local resource persons and guest speakers.

* Honoraria for administrative support staff such as secretaries and drivers.

* Part of the costs of materials for the workshop/training course (eg. bags, stationery, maps., air photos, etc).

b) Responsibility of the host country:

* All costs (transport, board and lodging) of the participants from the host country.

* All costs associated with the provision of the transport required for the running of the workshop/training course.

* Salaries of the local resource persons, guest lecturers, administrative support staff.

* Part of the costs of materials and local running expenses for the workshop/training course eg photo copying paper, telex and fax messages.

* Provision of a photo copier, word processing equipment, overhead and slide projectors, and other non-expendable items needed for the workshop/training course.

c) Responsibility of the other Participants:

* All in country costs of their participants (eg. domestic travel to and from the international airport, obtaining of visas and exit clearance, etc) prior to boarding the international flight taking them to the country in which the workshop/training course is being held.

* Salaries of their participants during the time they are away from their duty stations.

* All costs associated with the preparation of country review papers for presentation at a workshop/training course in which they have agreed to participate.

ARTICLE XI - Participation of observers

1. Institutions which are not Participants of ASOCON, and regional and international organisations, may, upon written request and approval of the Consultative Board, attend regional workshops and other technical meetings organised under the auspices of ASOCON as observers.

2. Participation of regional and international organisations in the work of ASOCON shall be governed by the relevant provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding and the decisions of the Consultative Board. The Regional Coordinator, acting on behalf and in consultation with the National Co-ordinators, shall have the right to invite regional and international organisations to attend meetings of the Consultative Board and subsidiary bodies of ASOCON in an observer, and where appropriate advisory, capacity.

3. Unless the Consultative Board expressly determines otherwise, observers from regional and international organisations may attend the working sessions of Consultative Board meetings and participate in discussions.

4. Observers shall not have voting rights.

ARTICLE XII - Ad-hoc Bodies, Working Parties and Consultations

The Participants, through their participation in the Consultative Board, under Article III of the Memorandum of Understanding, may establish ad-hoc bodies, technical committees, working parties and consultations, subject to the following rules and procedures:

i) Such bodies, working groups and consultations may be established, on an exceptional basis where the Consultative Board considers that such action is conducive to facilitating its own work.
ii) Before taking a decision on the establishment of such bodies, the Consultative Board shall examine the administrative and financial implications of such a decision.
iii) The Consultative Board shall define the terms of reference, composition and as far as possible, duration of the mandate of each subsidiary ad-hoc body.
iv) Subsidiary ad-hoc bodies shall report to the Consultative Board and the report shall be made available for the information of all Participants.

ARTICLE XIII - Rules and Regulations

For the discharge of subsidiary functions under the Memorandum of Understanding, rules and regulations may be framed by decision of the Consultative Board on the following matters:

i) personnel management of the staff of the Co-ordination Unit directly employed by ASOCON, including recruitment, promotion and disciplinary actions;
ii) financial management, such as opening of the bank account, preparation of accounts and financial statements and travel allowances;
iii) procedures to conclude contracts and agreements with other organisations; and
iv) procedures to receive donations.

ARTICLE XIV - Amendment of the Memorandum of Understanding

1. The Consultative Board may adopt amendments to this Memorandum of Understanding by a unanimous decision of all Participants represented at a meeting of the Consultative Board, provided that no written objections thereto are received by the Regional Co-ordinator, within 30 days of the circulation of the amendment, from any Participant not represented at the meeting.

2. Proposals for amendment of the Memorandum of Understanding may be made by any Participant through its National Coordinator in a communication addressed to the Regional Coordinator. A proposal for the amendment of the Memorandum of Understanding shall be included in the agenda of a meeting of the Consultative Board on condition that prior notice thereof has been dispatched by the Regional Coordinator to the Participants, at least 30 days prior to the opening of the meeting.

3. An amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding which has been adopted by the Consultative Board shall be communicated to all the Participants by the Regional Coordinator and shall become effective 30 days after the amendment has been communicated, subject to the provisions of paragraph 1 above.

ARTICLE XV - Settlement of Disputes

Any dispute arising between Participants of ASOCON concerning the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding which cannot be settled by unanimous decision of the Consultative Board shall be submitted to independent arbitration.

ARTICLE XVI - Termination

1. The Memorandum of Understanding may be terminated by a three-fourths majority of Participants. The termination of the Memorandum of Understanding shall entail dissolution of ASOCON.

2. In the case of dissolution of ASOCON, the responsibility for settlement of outstanding liabilities, if any, or receipts from sale of assets after settlement of liabilities, if any, shall be shared equally by all Participants.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 December 2009 03:11

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