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 has never been greater. Approximately 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet, and more than 3 billion suffer one or more manifestations of poor nutrition. Food systems are exerting increasing pressures on land and water systems, and it is likely that they are already operating beyond some planetary boundaries. But in the absence of ministries for food systems, government actions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and better integration of food, land, and water systems, remain fragmented and uncoordinated.

Transformations will require benefit optimization while managing complex trade-offs. Without coherent evidence-driven policy and planning, and amidst substantially growing risks and uncertainties, future policy on food, land, and water systems transformation could result in poor investments, ineffective national programming, and growing inequalities.


This Initiative aims to support the prioritization of investments that will transform food, land, and water systems to achieve greater gender equality, social inclusion, food and nutrition security, healthy diets, poverty reduction, and climate resilience.

This will be achieved through:

  • Working with country-led coalitions of government policymakers, the private sector, funders, and civil society organizations to develop new tools and adapt a range of existing CGIAR tools, applying them to national and sub-national policies and investments, to develop transformative strategies and plans that lead to more sustainable and equitable outcomes and provide investment entry points for funders, the private sector, and others.
  • Working with country-led coalitions and multi-sector coordination units to co-design transformative programs, policies, and strategies that crowd in multiple sources of funding and support implementation and analysis using political economy tools.
  • Building think tank policy capacity, equipping a new generation of policy entrepreneurs in at least 20 next-generation policy institutes.
  • Co-development together with partners, including regional partners, of monitoring, knowledge management, and accountability tools for food, land, and water systems transformation.


Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

  1. At least eight countries use CGIAR tools and evidence to develop priority policies and strategies, or make policy and strategy changes for food, land, and water systems transformation that deliver equitable outcomes for food, nutrition and water security, job creation, environmental sustainability, and gender and inclusion.
  2. At least eight country governments have formed coalitions of the private sector, civil society, and donors, and translated their policies and strategies into investment plans and programs with clear budgets and implementation, knowledge management, and accountability plans that incorporate investment-ready technological, policy, and institutional innovations from CGIAR.
  3. Governments work with CGIAR researchers and 20 next-generation policy think tanks and institutes, using evaluation and political economy tools to track the impacts of government and other investment programs and to address policy implementation bottlenecks to ensure policies and strategies lead to more transformational and equitable outcomes.
  4. Evidence-based policy analysis tools, knowledge management tools, and lessons learnt from across countries and regions are mainstreamed in country planning and investment priority-setting as well as being reflected in regional organizations setting targets and supporting governments to invest in them.



At least 50 million people benefit from better food and water security because of polices and strategies that integrate CGIAR innovations, research, and evidence in their prioritization, targeting, and implementation.


At least 10 million 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.


At least 10 million youth and women, as well as 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.


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


For more details, view the full preliminary outline


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.