In 2019, poverty, hunger and malnutrition continued to be a daily reality for millions as the final decade approached to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Action was lagging on climate change, even as the effects of extreme weather and increased disaster events became harder to ignore. And as the year drew to a close, the first cases were recorded of COVID-19, a disease that within months would take a severe toll on human health, and upend the global economy.
At the center of these combined crises was one common factor. Food – the way we grow, catch, transport, process, trade and consume it – is central to the main challenges facing humanity. The world’s food systems are on a dangerous trajectory, compounding social and economic inequalities, undermining public health, and driving unsustainable pressure on ecosystems and natural resources. We need to change course.
“More integrated ways of thinking are in order to find food-based pathways that can end hunger and malnutrition worldwide.”
Marco Ferroni, Chair, CGIAR System Management Board
A transformation of global food systems – harnessing decades of scientific evidence and innovation and requiring new investment in innovation, too – holds the potential to address humanity’s greatest challenges, and create a healthier, and more prosperous, equitable and sustainable world.
As the world’s largest global agricultural innovation network, CGIAR has a crucial role to play in transforming food systems in a climate crisis. In 2019, CGIAR’s research and innovations contributed and provided solutions to the complex challenges related to food security, environmental protection and sustainability, and the protection of health and livelihoods.
“Food systems and the environment are fundamentally connected… our food systems must transform if they are to continue fulfilling their many roles.”
Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Executive Director, CGIAR System Organization
The year 2019 was also a time of rapid change for CGIAR. Global changes related to environmental decline, technological innovation, demographic and economic shifts, and geopolitical upheaval drove CGIAR in 2019 to initiate an ambitious change agenda to create One CGIAR – a response to a call from stakeholders and partners for the need to ensure that CGIAR can continue to meet today’s most critical challenges.
Recognizing the necessity of a global partnership to transform food systems while restoring our environment, CGIAR in 2019 also initiated a renewed business plan for 2019-2021. The plan focuses on CGIAR’s role in meeting the SDGs, by putting into action our Strategy and Results Framework and mobilizing the combined talent and assets of our Research Portfolio.
With its key focus on agricultural research for development (AR4D), CGIAR conducts research that leads to positive development impacts and public goods that benefit those in need. Across the CGIAR System, we aim to reduce poverty, improve food and nutrition security, and improve natural resources and ecosystem services. These three goals – what we call our System-level Outcomes (SLOs) – have been designed to align with and contribute to reaching the SDGs by 2030.
In 2019, CGIAR delivered measurable advances toward meeting the SLOs and SDGs. The CGIAR Portfolio – driven by the combined efforts of CGIAR Research Centers and grouped into challenge-led research clusters – presented 97 cases of high-level, long-term, at-scale impact for sustainable development.
|Contributions to SLOs/SDGs
|Outcome Impact Case Reports (OICRs)||94||150|
|MELIA (monitoring, evaluation, learning and impact assessment) studies/activities||N/A||194|
A total of 150 Outcome Impact Case Reports (OICRs) – short reports on the impact of CGIAR research – were reported by CGIAR in 2019. Thirty-nine percent (58 OICRs) demonstrated changes in discourse or behavior as a result of CGIAR research; 51% (76) reported changes in policy or practice informed by CGIAR findings; and just over 10% (16) provided evidence of adoption, or impact at scale, of CGIAR innovations.
CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) and Platforms, which provide support on cross-cutting issues, reported progress toward research outputs and outcomes in 2019 using CGIAR’s six results indicators, including metrics on innovations; policies, legal instruments and investments; partnerships; capacity development; Altmetric Attention Scores; and peer-reviewed publications.
A total of 887 innovations – significant products or findings – were reported in 2019, similar to the number reported in 2018. Of these, 31% (279) were available for uptake and 7% (58) had been taken up by next users. Fifty-one percent (456) were genetic innovations, mostly plant varieties and breeds.
The number of new policies, legal instruments or investments influenced by CGIAR research in 2019 increased by 44% compared to the previous year, with 164 policies reported in total, most of them (69%; 113) with a national scope. Seven policies (4%) with evidence of impact were reported.
Partnerships are a critical aspect of CGIAR’s capacity to conduct research and achieve impact at scale. In 2019, 283 partnerships were reported, 36% of them related to research.
Important capacity development contributions were also made in 2019. A total of 796,273 trainees (including long– and short– term; 54% men and 46% women) were involved across the CGIAR Portfolio. A total of 538 PhD students were incorporated in CGIAR research intiatives in 2019, 49% (265) of them women.
CGIAR researchers produced a total of 1,901 peer-reviewed publications in 2019, 69% of which were open access, and 84% published in ISI journals. As of 28 July 2020, the CGIAR publication with the highest Altmetric Attention Score, ‘Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems’, published in The Lancet, had a score of 4,690.
This year’s interactive performance report is designed to be accessed online. The online report not only reduces paper use and wastage, but also enables readers to interactively explore the latest data, including contributions to the SDGs. For those who do require a hard copy, sections of the report can be selected and printed individually via the ‘print basket’. Results can be explored by country, and by contribution to the SDGs, among other metrics.
Three deep dives into cases of high-level impact are presented – showcasing the successful development of aflatoxin biocontrol products in Africa, a community co-management initiative with impacts for food security and fishing ecosystems in Bangladesh, and the success story of biofortified orange-fleshed sweetpotato, for which CGIAR scientists were awarded a World Food Prize in 2016.
A selection of Outcome Impact Case Reports (OICRs) highlights the diversity of CGIAR and partner contributions – ranging from climate-smart villages in Southeast Asia to gender transformative approaches to livestock management in Ethiopia, and the renewal of community forest concessions for local communities in Guatemala. These can also be explored via the CGIAR Program Results Dashboard, revealing the depth and breadth of CGIAR’s research-for-development contributions.
The results dashboard presents quantitative reporting on the year’s achievements, with key numbers to be explored in relation to the six results indicators of innovations, policies, partnerships, capacity development, Altmetric Attention Scores and peer-reviewed publications. To delve deeper into these indicators, the results dashboard provides comparable, quality-assessed data from 2017 to 2019.
The report summarizes the work in 2019 of the three CGIAR Platforms – the Excellence in Breeding Platform, the Genebank Platform and the Platform for Big Data in Agriculture . It also presents how the System has worked together to achieve research results and impact in areas such as governance, open access and open data, as well as gender, diversity and inclusion.
Finally, funding and finance figures are made available for the year 2019.
We hope you enjoy exploring the year’s achievements.
Header photo: Acacia trees being planted in Yangambi, DR Congo. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR