In 2022, CGIAR’s Initiatives participated in the newly introduced Report-Reflect-Replan annual adaptive management cycle, as part of the CGIAR Technical Reporting Arrangement.
The Reflect process within this cycle enabled Initiatives to assess the first year of Initiative implementation, and make recommendations for how to adapt and evolve in the context of changing capacities, budgets, and circumstances. A summary of the results of this process was included in Initiative and Impact Platform 2022 Annual Technical Reports (Type 1) (Section 7 – Adaptive Management). The 2022 Adaptive Management summaries demonstrate how the Reflect process facilitated strategic decisions to prioritize, and in some cases de-prioritize the work of the Initiatives, and reallocate funds to respond to lessons learnt in 2022.
Adaptive Management is steered at the Science Group level, with many key decisions made collectively among Initiatives within a Science Group. The outcomes of Initiatives’ Reflect processes are used to inform investment decisions by Science Group Directors.
Through an analysis of the 2022 Adaptive Management summaries for each Initiative and the GENDER Impact Platform, two key priorities were identified:
- Recommendations to enhance coordination and communication, both within and among Initiatives, and more broadly with partners and stakeholders, with 26 Initiatives including at least one of these priorities within their adaptive management plan (78% of Initiatives and the GENDER Platform).
- Recommendations to develop plans to determine more targeted work and realistic work plans in the context of budget constraints, with 16 Initiatives and the GENDER Impact Platform (52% of Initiatives and the GENDER Platform) explicitly mentioning adaptive management recommendations in response to budget reductions and constraints.
In total, 31 Initiatives and the GENDER Impact Platform made 197 adaptive management recommendations in 2022 – an average of six recommendations per Initiative/Impact Platform. The points below provide a brief overview of some of the key areas identified as part of the Reflect process, and examples of how these have led to strategic adaptive management.
Revision of scope, targets and theory of change due to budget reductions
Many Initiatives made recommendations to reduce the scope of their work due to budget restrictions. For example, the CGIAR Initiative on Transforming Agrifood Systems in South Asia recommended that it should reduce the number of local governments it will engage with on strengthening data-informed actions to transform food systems, and recommended that engagement with ten local governments be reduced to four for work on reshaping local food environments.
The CGIAR Initiative on Fragility to Resilience in Central and West Asia and North Africa, and the CGIAR Initiative on Nexus Gains recommended that they should reassess their theories of change; the CGIAR Initiative on AgriLAC Resiliente recommended that it should revise its end-of-Initiative outcome targets; and the CGIAR Initiative on Breeding Resources recommended that it should reduce and alter the scope of some of its Work Packages.
Development of external communications, and more nuanced and improved stakeholder engagement
Several Initiatives identified the need to improve external communications to support achieving impact, attract funding, and identify potential collaborators. This included the CGIAR Initiative on One Health, the CGIAR Initiative on Nature-Positive Solutions, the CGIAR Initiative on Plant Health, and the CGIAR Initiative on Aquatic Foods.
Improving stakeholder engagement was also identified as a priority – the CGIAR Initiative on Seed Equal recommended that it should expand engagement with non-traditional seed sector actors, including off-takers, aggregators, traders, millers, and humanitarian aid organizations, and independent policy think tanks – as findings from recent research, and partner demand, suggest a need for stronger partnerships with this group of actors. The CGIAR Initiative on Resilient Cities identified the need to clarify communications with stakeholders and focus on the value the Initiative can offer local partners, as engagement in 2022 revealed that stakeholders can often become overwhelmed by the complexity of CGIAR’s Portfolio of Initiatives – when in fact there are only certain segments of the Portfolio that are of local relevance.
Better coordination within and among Initiatives
Several Initiatives identified increased coordination, learning and collaboration across Work Packages as important. As an example, for the CGIAR Initiative on Rethinking Food Markets, the Reflect process revealed the need for more intensive sharing of research method design and innovation bundles across Work Packages and value-chain cases. The CGIAR Initiative on Low-emission Food Systems recommended that it should increase the level of conceptual coordination within the Initiative through regular cross-WP meetings, science webinars and deliberate efforts to put in place cross-sectoral partnerships.
Inter-Initiative collaboration was also mentioned by the CGIAR Initiative on Excellence in Agronomy; the CGIAR Initiative on Plant Health, which recommended that it should strengthen collaboration with relevant Initiatives on integrated mycotoxin management (IMM); and the CGIAR Initiative on Mixed Farming Systems, which recommended that it should foster better collaboration with Resilient Agrifood System Initiatives to address knowledge gaps related to the interactions of system components and their consequences for the sustainability of mixed farming systems.
Increased country-specific support, and a strengthened and more coordinated role for country focal points and teams
During the Reflect process, the importance of country-focused work and resources were identified as critical. For example, the CGIAR Initiative on Nature-Positive Solutions identified the need to empower its country teams and shift the focus from Work Package-led to country-led implementation; the CGIAR Initiative on AgriLAC Resiliente recommended that it should place more emphasis on in-country coordination between the Initiative’s Work Packages and CGIAR scientists in focal countries; and the CGIAR Initiative on Fruit and Vegetables for Sustainable Healthy Diets recommended that it should ensure that country coordinators anchor country activities and strengthen external partnership relationships, recognizing that in addition to fostering internal communication, country coordinators play a critical role in identifying opportunities to strengthen Initiative activities.
A stronger focus on, and more resources given to gender research and gender-transformative approaches
Gender research was also a prominent theme. The CGIAR Initiative on Fragility to Resilience in Central and West Asia and North Africa recommended that it should hire more scientists with expertise in gender transformative research; the CGIAR Initiative on Plant Health recommended that it should work towards improving the capacity of national partner institutions to undertake gender-responsive interdisciplinary research; and the CGIAR Initiative on Aquatic Foods recommended that is should allocate more resources to gender integration across the different stages of the Initiative lifecycle. The CGIAR Initiative on National Policies and Strategies recommended that it should establish more clearly defined gender-related goals within its work plan, accompanied with methods for evaluation of gender impacts.
The CGIAR Initiative on Market Intelligence recommended that it should further strengthen linkages between the Genetic Innovation Action Area and key national agricultural research and extension system (NARES) partners, creating practical channels to respond to Global South demands, building on the activities of the CGIAR Initiative on Accelerated Breeding’s “Transform” Work Package. To do so, the Initiative suggested to scale the Global Market Intelligence Platform (GloMIP) to help CGIAR, NARES and donors with investment priorities, collaboration, and capacity support in breeding pipelines; and align market segmentation and priority setting with the FAO Delivery Compacts and National Agricultural Investment Plans, responding to Global South requests for involvement in priority and agenda setting. Cooperation is also intended to align with the June 2022 agreement with 36 CGIAR-NARES-small and medium enterprise networks and other Genetic Innovation-NARES strategic touchpoints.
Scoping trips and seminars organized in Ethiopia and Rwanda in 2022 revealed strong demand for engagement with the CGIAR Initiative on National Policies and Strategies, and readiness for work to start immediately. Specific demand was communicated by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Planning and Development and Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources – as such, in Ethiopia, the Initiative recommended that it should support the development of the country’s Recovery and Reconstruction Plan by conducting surveys and evaluations; and in Rwanda, the Initiative recommended that is should support the Rwandan government with the development of its Sector Strategic Plan for Agriculture, with a focus on livestock. In both countries, a country seminar series was recommended to be established by the Initiative.
Pivoting work in response to global and national crises
The CGIAR Initiative on Seed Equal recommended that it should re-examine and restructure workplans in response to the global food, fuel, and fertilizer price crisis in 2022 to help national partners develop appropriate, agile seed-system responses. Responses include developing a roadmap for rebuilding Afghanistan’s wheat seed sector in collaboration with international and local partners.
As another example, the CGIAR Initiative on West and Central African Food Systems Transformation recommended that it should expand the Initiative’s work to the Sahel region to contribute to the urgent need to address the major challenges and crises in the region by leveraging ongoing and potential investments from multilateral and bilateral organizations.
Also, several Initiatives recommended to reduce the geographic scope of their work due to the political situation in some countries (Burkina Faso – the CGIAR Initiative on Agroecology; Nicaragua – the CGIAR Initiative on AgriLAC Resiliente; and Myanmar – the CGIAR Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas).