Reported progress in 2018 for each CGIAR Research Program (CRP) and Platform against planned milestones is shown in Annex 6, together with evidence of achievement (if complete) or an explanation (if incomplete, extended for a further year, canceled, or changed).
Table 13 summarizes the overall achievement of 2018 milestones, as reported in the CRP and Platform annual reports. Across the CRPs and Platforms, 71% of milestones were completed in 2018. A further 24% were extended.
The highly technical nature of most research means that subject matter specialists are needed to assess the relevance, scientific quality and efficiency of research. Since research is inherently risky, people who understand the research are in the best position to assess whether a missed milestone is a sign of poor management, or a sign that the research needs to be redirected, or whether it was simply a poor year (for example a year that experienced a drought) and the work needs to be repeated. Results based management (RBM) is therefore the role of CRP management, with oversight and appropriate challenge from their independent steering committees and governance bodies.
In 2018, some milestones were extended due to financial or resource constraints. In some instances, there were insufficient funds in 2018 to complete a milestone, or inadequate staffing when a staff member had resigned during the year (RICE, 2018), or it took longer than expected to recruit new staff (LIVESTOCK, 2018). Other reasons for extension included the aim to determine greater scaling opportunities (PIM, 2018), factors related to the external environment (political, legal, economic or market factors) (CCAFS, 2018), and research and science revealing opportunities for extensions (BIG DATA, 2018).
Milestones that changed in 2018 were done so due to factors related to the external environment. For example, a CCAFS milestone was to ensure that national planners in at least one country supported the incorporation of CCAFS-informed climate services, insurance and/or safety nets into CSA or adaptation investment portfolios for international climate finance providers, yet in 2018 national planners in two countries (Colombia and Nepal) agreed to do this (CCAFS, 2018).
Another factor influencing milestone change was the nature of partnerships. WLE had a milestone to promote 16 business models for resource recovery from fecal sludge through an ongoing free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). A change was required as the host MOOC did not adopt the WLE-provided modules. Therefore, a free online curriculum of resource recovery and reuse (RRR) business models will instead be made available. As part of this milestone, WLE also established a new partnership with the National Institute of Business Management in Sri Lanka (WLE, 2018).
Changes were also made for financial reasons. Due to a lack of common operational funding and communication between RICE and a pathologist to tackle three diseases in target sites, a RICE milestone to determine the spatial distribution of pests and diseases and the deployment of available isolines was changed. RICE will conduct a workshop to build a common strategy in specific sites where bilateral funding is available (RICE, 2018).
Two milestones from EiB were delayed in 2018. The first was related to a reprioritization of breeding use cases based on landscape analysis using sample tracking for genotyping and field data collection apps. However, in 2018 the prioritization remained the same. The second milestone aimed to ensure that Core Systems are certified as BrAPI (Breeding Application Programing Interface) Version 1 compliant; that workflow was implemented for the case studies identified in EiB’s first year, and connectivity across the different tools or systems was implemented. The third component of this milestone has been delayed until 2019 (EiB, 2018).
Photo by T. Ha My/ICRAF.