A Global Agricultural Research Partnership

Our Punta del Este Commitments

The Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD II)

The CGIAR Consortium has just completed a week-long series of important meetings in Punta del Este, Uruguay: the 2nd Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2); the 10th CGIAR Consortium Board meeting and special meeting on Governance;  the 8th CGIAR Fund Council Meeting and the 2nd CGIAR Funders Forum. Many commitments were expressed in all these meetings. However, as I was reminded in a press conference with the young social reporters at GCARD2, commitments only really count if they are truly owned; that is if we say “I commit” or “we commit”, rather than just being calls to action that are left for others to implement.

So let me give you an overview of fifteen key commitments made by the CGIAR Consortium in this week of meetings that we truly own and for which we can be held accountable.

At the GCARD2 closing session I presented the following commitments of the CGIAR Consortium, related to: (1) foresight; (2) knowledge; (3) capacity building; and (4) partnership.


  1. We commit to continuing development of a foresight capacity in the CGIAR, through the GFAR Foresight Hub, the foresight studies of the CGIAR Independent Science & Partnership Council (ISPC) and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Markets and Institutions.
  2. We commit to bringing a dynamic foresight element into the 2013 Management Update of the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework that will focus on three key trends identified as priorities at GCARD2:
    • farm size dynamics;
    • from sustainable production to sustainable consumption; and
    • urbanization.


  1. We commit to making the CGIAR an Open Access organization, with policies and standards put in place in 2013.
  2. We commit to making more key data freely available online and to improving transparency, with significant progress in 2013 related to at least:
    • internal data on how the CGIAR works, such as data on financial statements, staff, management and governance, appropriately disaggregated by gender, age and nationality;
    • data and results of our research across all CGIAR Research Programs;
    • monitoring data on the progress made to achieve the development outcomes of each of our CGIAR Research Programs.

Capacity Strengthening

  1. We commit to developing and approving a CGIAR Consortium strategy on institutional and personal Capacity Strengthening in 2013, as a cross-cutting priority for the CRP portfolio, similar to our work on gender research in 2012.
  2. We commit to fast-tracking development of quick wins that can be made through CGIAR Post-Doctoral Fellow and CGIAR Visiting Scientist programs.


  1. We commit to engaging through a participatory approach key stakeholders in the development of the 2013 Management Update of the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework, including at least national governments, national research organizations and their regional organizations, NGOs and civil society, the private sector, gender and last but not least, youth through young professional organizations such as YPARD.
  2. We commit to aligning our research priorities with national and regional priorities and investment plans, such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) national investment plans, in 2013.
  3. We commit to carrying out a Stakeholder Perception Survey of more than 3 thousand partners of the CGIAR Consortium and the CRPs. The Survey, which was launched at GCARD2 on 1 November 2012, is scheduled for completion in early 2013 and will serve as a baseline against which to measure and improve our partnership performance.

A key agenda of all CGIAR business meetings in Punta was the critical need to continue building the new CGIAR through a reform of CGIAR governance at all levels of the CGIAR System, thereby ensuring that strong oversight over and accountability for the resources entrusted to CGIAR are either in place or will be put in place through reform as a matter of urgency. To this end, the CGIAR Consortium made the following commitments, as presented by the Consortium Board Chair, Carlos Perez del Castillo, on several occasions in the business meetings:


  1. We commit, as the CGIAR Consortium Board, to fully exercising the fiduciary responsibility entrusted to us in the CGIAR Consortium Constitution and the Joint Agreement between the Consortium and CGIAR Fund Council, by ensuring that we have put in place effective policies, controls and people.
  2. We commit, as the CGIAR Consortium jointly with the CGIAR Fund Council, to undertaking a comprehensive external review of the governance structures and controls across the CGIAR, in two phases, with a first assessment phase expedited to report in February 2013 and a second recommendation phase expected to be completed by mid-2013.

The CGIAR Consortium used a participatory approach to develop an Action Plan to strengthen the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework that was endorsed by the CGIAR Funders Forum on November 2. As a consequence, the CGIAR Consortium will now kick off actions to develop the Management Update for the SRF, to be completed by October 2013. As part of that process, the CGIAR Consortium has made the following commitments:

2013 Management Update for the SRF

  1. We commit to developing the system-level theory of change and impact pathway for the CGIAR, in collaboration with, and under the leadership of, the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council, by March 2013.
  2. We commit to convening and facilitating a participatory prioritization process, involving stakeholders and investors in the CGIAR, that will result in a set of prioritized intermediate development outcomes at system level that establish the aspirational goals for the contributions the CGIAR intends to make to reducing hunger, poverty and malnutrition and while conserving our natural capital, to be completed by June 2013.
  3. We commit to developing geographically explicit intermediate development outcomes and associated value propositions for each of the CGIAR Research Programs, in a manner that is consistent and coherent across the CRP Portfolio, and that are well aligned with national and regional priorities and investment plans – and to negotiate these Intermidiate Development Ooutcomes (IDOs) with representative stakeholders and investors by June 2013.
  4. We commit to developing a draft 2013 Management Update for the CGIAR SRF that will be available for feedback and consultation no later than October 2013.

Taken together, these commitments will shape and drive the 2013 program of work of the CGIAR Consortium in partnership with the Fund Council, ISPC, IEA and numerous partners and stakeholders outside the system.

We look forward to it.

Thank you to all who made these meetings possible, particularly our Uruguayan hosts.

Links to my presentations in Punta del Este:

The SRF Action Plan and ISPC white paper on Priority setting can be found here.

8 Responses to Our Punta del Este Commitments

  1. Rupert Knowles says:

    Although I have read many general articles on climate change and this conference is no exception,
    where can one get specific predictions country by country?
    I work as a horticultural consultant and I am currently doing a value chain assessment of certain crops in Pakistan. I need a convenient source of the latest thinking on specific crops in specific countries so that I can advise farmers how to prepare and adapt.
    I do not want to hold anyone to account, but all the waffle written is of no practical use to small farmers in developing countries.
    We need a graph of today’s and 2050′s average monthly max/min temperatures and average monthly precipitation for a specific agro-ecological region or better still, for a GPS coordinate. I expect it is too much to expect an ‘expert’ to stick his neck out in this way!

    • Kay Chapman says:

      Thanks for your comment Rupert. I am going to put you in touch directly with someone from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) to see if they can help further.

    • peter says:


      The GCARD conference was not about climate change, but leaving that aside for a while, when I see your quest for info: “We need a graph of today’s and 2050′s average monthly max/min temperatures and average monthly precipitation for a specific agro-ecological region or better still, for a GPS coordinate.” — then my gut reaction is: this guy is dreaming.

      Rupert, nobody will be able to give you this data for that far in the future, and for a specific area. I would wish any scientist could, but that would require a crystal ball. Science will not be to predict weather patterns that far in the future. I am not sure neither of the applicability of your data. No local farmer will plan its business for 40 years down the road. Farmers are trying to survive now.

      That having said there is data available for near-future, with anticipated weather and soil data, and the impact it will have on crops. Have a look at

  2. Lou Verchot says:

    Dear Rupert,

    There is indeed a lot of confusion about how climate change information can be used to help producers. Climate data shows that there are long term trends, trends operating at more or less decade time scales and inter-annual variability. In all cases, inter-annual variability is the largest part of the variation and this is what creates problems for producers.

    The International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University collaborates with CCAFS and with CRP6 on Trees, Forests and Agroforestry. They have developed a nice tool that we are using in our research. The tool analyzes trends in temperature and rainfall and partitions the variation into short, medium and long term trends.

    The tool does not predict the future, and most predictions of the future are for such long term trends that growers will not find them useful. What the tool does is allow you to understand how things are varying today and how they have varied in the recent past in specific places. It doesn’t cove the whole world because there are places where data are not available. But I think growers who need information for the next 10 to 20 years can make assessments with this understanding of recent history and as a consultant you can use this tool in many situations.

    Of course, predicting the future is always difficult and predicting tipping points is nearly impossible (think of the stock market, for example). The tool will not help with this. But it can help you understand if you are in a medium term increasing or decreasing trend, whether reasonable expectations for inter-annual rainfall variation is 100 mm or 500 mm, and how trends have been changing over the past 50 years or so.

    In our work in CRP6, we are using this analysis to develop research to support policies and best management practices to deal with climate variability and climate change.

    The tool can be found at

    Let me know if you find this helpful.

    Best regards,

    Lou Verchot

  3. Rupert Knowles says:

    Dear Lou,
    Many thanks for your comments and the link to the tool. I think the problem is that many of the terms used are unfamiliar to farmers and their advisers – perhaps we did not listen during the statistics lessons at school!
    I have tried using the tool for the Punjab in Pakistan where I am now, but I will have to wait till I get home: a) to find a friend to explain to me and b) to have a faster internet connection so it does not take so long to re-draw every time I make a mistake.
    I will come back to you if I need more help.
    Best regards


  4. Mehmood says:

    Considering that basically there is only one response/ comment so far on this webpage already tells a lot!

    However, Rupert in my view, is not the only one facing this problem with CGIAR. It is faced by many who seek practical knowledge and advice. Unfortunately, CGIAR (and specially CRP) donors who fund these kinds of global, cross regional and cross country research projects often face and want big questions to be answered (what will hapen to poverty in 50 years, what kind of people will face more poverty, where the global climate is going, what can be done at global scale). And thus scientists design big projects that have big numbers (as data as well as as results), as well as big assumptions. The little guy, like the farmer in Pakistani Punjab, or in Kyrgyz mountains, or in Sahel of Africa, needs answers specific to his/ her situation (people whom Ruppert is trying to serve) but can not pay for the services of scientists. At the intermediate levels are people like Ruppert, NGOs or extension and information services, who would like to interpret these big numbers to a local level, but the scientific knowledge is not available in languages they would understand. Scientists do not think it is their responsibility. Governments in developing (as well as developed) countries have their own political problems (fiscal crises, terrorism, tarde, etc) and the politicians forming the governments are only interested to solve a problem if that helps them to win next election! So who will actually make this knowledge available to the poor guy who needs it? Perhaps nobody unless the scientific centers and donors together make commitments to cater to that!

    Policy intentions mentioned above are good, but need much more to make things happen. Scientists need to work with farmers to understand the research question farmers have, and analyze the problem together with them to be holistic in their analysis, and verify and validate options together with farmers to be able to say with confidence that their recommended innovative solutions have potential to solve the problem really under the conditions in which the farmer lives- and does not require changing the complete world before these innovative solutions start delivering!!

  5. Piers Bocock says:

    These are really good comments that go to the heart of our current and future work at the CGIAR Consortium. I have just joined the Consortium Office where part of my purpose is to help make the data, information, and knowledge produced by the Consortium more accessible and usable not just to global policymakers but also to farmers who need research outputs in formats that are relevant to their contexts and conditions.

    Obviously, the work of the CGIAR Consortium and its partners results in huge amounts of agricultural and natural resource data from across the world. Managing this knowledge—collecting information, analyzing it, reporting the findings, and synthesizing the content for different contexts—is a must for planning and tracking the progress not only of our work, but also for organizing it so that others can find and use it, so our research can actually have impact.

    The CGIAR Consortium is tackling the issue from a number of perspectives. This website for example automatically aggregates information from over 140 websites of CGIAR Research Programs and Research Centers. Content is up-to-date, concise and relevant. And our policies are evolving to maximize these efforts. (See recent posts describing our activities towards open access. In addition, the reformed CGIAR is taking performance management very seriously, and the relevance of research is going to be measurable in terms of impact in the future.

    Although I recognize the frustration, I have been encouraged by recent conversations — particularly at GCARD2 but in other places as well — where scientists HAVE been saying it is their responsibility to make their findings more practical and useful. It won’t happen overnight, but the tide is turning.

    And we cannot do it alone. Working through partnerships with other donors, implementers, policymakers, agriculture organizations and countries, we are looking to improve the way that data is captured, synthesized, and shared in more practical ways. CIARD is just one example (

    It’s great to read these comments because they confirm the need for more practical access to key data, information, and knowledge — which we at the CGIAR Consortium are committed to making happen.

    Piers Bocock
    Director of Knowledge Management & Communication, CGIAR Consortium

  6. Andrew Ward says:

    I am part of the CGIAR Science team and I must say it is always good to be kept on our toes as to the relevence of our work. However, the reform of the CGIAR has led to research programs with development objectives against which progress wll be assessed and rewarded. Consequently, a huge amount of time to make certain research conducted is relevant.

    A concrete example of this is the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS). They are developing their strategy through community empowerment and then through this working with the communities to identify the interventions and research required

    Although the CRPs could be criticised for not progressing they are taking time to get their focus right through investing in understanding the needs, opportunities and desires of the farmers themselves. Techniques such as of community visioning, demand surveys, partner surveys, political analysis etc have all used to mitigate the problems you describe. Have a look at their site for more information on their approach

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