National Policies and Strategies for Food, Land and Water Systems Transformation


The need to make food, land, and water systems more productive, resilient, and responsive to growing demand — and future shocks — has never been greater. Approximately three billion people cannot afford a healthy diet, and more than three billion suffer one or more manifestations of poor nutrition. Food systems are exerting increasing pressure on land and water systems, and it is likely that they are already operating beyond key planetary boundaries. But in the absence of combined ‘ministries for food systems’, government action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through better integration of food, land, and water systems remains fragmented and uncoordinated.

More coordinated action requires greater policy coherence that can address complex trade-offs and maximize benefits. More coherence will help reduce future risks and uncertainties. It will also help transform food, land and water systems by supporting sustainable investments, effective national programming, and reduced inequalities.


This Initiative aims to build new understanding and capabilities across and within different policy arenas to identify and respond to windows of opportunity for systemic change across water, land and food systems.

It will support policy processes and equip policymakers to anticipate and drive forward transformational change while accounting for trade-offs and differing needs.


This objective will be achieved through:

  • Building policy coherence: strengthening policy coherence at the national level and across the One CGIAR portfolio of Initiatives, and piloting national policy and cross-CGIAR policy coherence mechanisms.
  • Investment prioritization: supporting strategic public and private investments to meet the multiple objectives of poverty reduction, food and nutrition security, climate adaptation, gender equality and inclusion. Modeling tools and strengthened coalitions will be used to prioritize the most appropriate investments and crowd in investments.
  • Responding to crises: developing rapid-response tools and a network of experts and evidence, and mobilizing Communities of Policy Practice

To see how these activities fit together, view the diagram.


This Initiative will work in the following countries: Colombia, Egypt, India, Kenya, Laos and Nigeria.


Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

  1. Six countries adopt or refine policies and strategies that foster gender-equitable and socially inclusive food, land and water systems transformation.
  2. Six countries use at least one CGIAR tool or other innovation (including those of partners) to guide and prioritize policies and investments that achieve higher returns on investments and impact more diverse populations, either nationally or sub-nationally.
  3. Governments in six countries establish multistakeholder and multilevel coalitions to guide policy and strategy investments and to coordinate funding to selected investments.
  4. Governments in six countries institutionalize evidence-based policymaking and strategy development, evidenced by a rising number of requests for CGIAR and partner tools.
  5. Government and local think tanks in six countries demonstrate increased awareness of and capacity to use investment prioritization and other tools to guide program direction and respond to crises.


Projected impacts and benefits include:


Countries are supported to use evidence to define policies and prioritize investments with the greatest potential for impact on nutrition, health and food security, assisting 4.5 million people to meet minimum dietary energy requirements.


Women and youth, and marginalized groups, benefit through increased and more inclusive investments under large government, private sector and donor-funded programs that generate employment and contribute to improved efficiency beyond the farm, across food, land and water systems. Around 5.8 million people are assisted to exit poverty.


Around 8.3 million women, as well as youth and marginalized groups, benefit and are empowered through better returns from shared food, land and water systems as a result of strategies and programs designed and implemented with explicit attention to equity and inclusion.


Climate impacts, especially on the poorest and most marginalized, are minimized through activities and policies that are less fragmented and reduce trade-offs, leading to improvements in climate adaptation and resilience responses, as well as contributing to net carbon capture and retention in agrifood systems, benefiting 7.8 million people.


Governments better manage environmental trade-offs and achieve food, land, and water system transformations that succeed in reducing 20 km3 in consumptive water use, and strengthening environmental health and biodiversity in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems under pressure from economic and demographic growth.


Coherence or cross-purposes? Building national coalitions for transformative evidence-based policies

For more details, view the Initiative proposal


Header photo: A coffee farmer in Colombia's coffee producing zone, which is suffering the effects of climate change. Photo by N. Palmer/Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT.