Action Areas

CGIAR strives for global and regional impact by organizing its work along three Action Areas in which accelerated innovation is required to create sustainable and resilient food, land, and water systems and to meet SDG targets. The three Action Areas, which build on the firm foundation of CGIAR’s traditional strengths in genetics and farming systems with a more ambitious agenda around food, land, and water systems, are:

  1. Systems Transformation
  2. Resilient Agrifood Systems
  3. Genetic Innovation

See how the Action Areas fit into the broader CGIAR 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy.

Systems Transformation

Food systems driving sustainable land and water use, living within planetary boundaries, livelihoods, gender equality, healthy diets, and management of climate risks.

Priorities for CGIAR research and innovation:

  • CGIAR engages with national programs and work with partners to co-generate an evidence base on policies and market-relevant solutions for systems change.
  • Foresight and trade-off analysis aids identification and prioritization of policy, institutional, and technological options in different scenarios, focusing on the challenges brought by climate change.
  • Analysis of consumer behavior and the food environment feedbacks into the development of technological options and innovations in services (e.g. financial, market intelligence, agroadvisory, pests, and diseases surveillance) in this and other Action Areas.
  • Linking closely with the Action Area on Resilient Agrifood Systems, interdisciplinary research on terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems is integrated with biophysical, technological, social, and institutional dimensions of innovations and policy.
  • Applying remote sensing and big data tools, CGIAR increases the quality and use of data to assess trends in landscape change, land degradation, and exploitation of water resources, adapted to the specific needs of users.
  • Participatory approaches for planning and management of water and land resources, and related public policies, is strengthened, informed by analysis of trade-offs and synergies between land and water uses — and users — across multiple scenarios.
  • CGIAR tackles zoonotic diseases and food safety issues by addressing risk factors in different channels, including informal markets. CGIAR makes use of integrated approaches, such as One Health, recognizing that the health of people, animals, plants, and their shared environment is interconnected.

Resilient Agrifood Systems

Farming and food supply for healthy and safe diets, decent livelihoods, gender equality and youth inclusion, climate solutions, and environmental stewardship.

Priorities for CGIAR research and innovation:

  • Centering of CGIAR research and innovation on farmers’ wellbeing. Objective-setting in three areas: strengthening resilience and risk-management, securing social equity, and raising productive assets and incomes.
  • Leveraging of today’s digital revolution, which provides an unprecedented opportunity to combine big data with Earth observation to accelerate the pace and scale of innovation in agronomy, soil health, agroforestry, farm diversification, and management of biodiversity, water, and pests and diseases.
  • Design and access to affordable financial, informational, and legal services that support women and young people complements CGIAR’s agricultural work. Working with implementation partners across these services, in both the public and private sectors, to leverage and optimize investments.
  • Research explores multiple context-relevant pathways for production systems. These include agroecological approaches that leverage ecosystem functioning, technology-based approaches that optimize small-scale producers’ access to and use of modern inputs, and circular economy approaches that aim to eliminate waste and keep resources in use.

    Genetic Innovations

    Genebanks, crop breeding and seed systems to underpin rapid adaptation of food and farms to meet goals for poverty reduction, gender equality, nutrition, climate, and environment.

    Priorities for research and innovation:

    • Development of documented investment cases for crop-geography-end user combinations (product profiles).
    • More coordinated breeding under One CGIAR enables adoption of best practices across CGIAR and partners’ diverse breeding programs, and more efficient, lower-cost provision of services such as genotyping, information management, and mechanization.
    • Support for effective seed systems through helping national government and private sector companies and regulators build their capacities to play their roles successfully.
    • Joint design of new initiatives along the seed distribution chain, including for regional seed registration, import and export procedures, efficient in-country trialing, registration and release of new varieties, and seed quality promotion through fit-for-purpose certification.
    • CGIAR genebanks and pre-breeding pipelines complement breeding programs using modern genotyping and phenotyping information and digitalized data accessible to scientists.
    • CGIAR genebanks and germplasm health units monitor, test, germinate, multiply, characterize, clean, culture, store, and distribute germplasm under high scientific standards of operation.
    • CGIAR genebanks collectively drive improvements in and alignment on standards, practices, and appropriate benefit-sharing and engagement with users.
    • Future-focused technologies for disease indexing, high-throughput sequencing and phenotyping, and screening data have the potential to create a dramatic increase in value and demand for diversity.

      Interlinkages among Action Areas

      While the three Action Areas stand independently, they are also interconnected. For instance, efforts to improve resilience in agrifood systems must go hand in hand with efforts to halt and reverse forest loss and degradation, as well as with the selection of crop traits that fit consumer and producer needs and preferences. Similarly, on-farm water management takes place in the broader context of watersheds, river basins, and groundwater systems.



      Header image: Photo by Isabel Corthier/CIP
      Photo 1: Photo by Ayush Manik
      Photo 2: Photo by Neil Palmer/WorldFish
      Photo 3: Photo by N. Capozio/Bioversity International