2017
Upcoming conference on impacts of international agricultural research
19 May 2017

Between 6th and 8th July 2017, the Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) of the ISPC and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) are organizing a major conference on assessing the impacts of agricultural research. The conference, which will include a mix of plenary and parallel sessions, will be hosted by the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) at its campus in Nairobi, Kenya. Link to the event website will be posted shortly.

Quality of Research for Development
18 May 2017

The ISPC is facilitating System-wide agreement on the nature and assessment of Quality of Research for Development (QoR4D). A small working group (WG) on QoR4D with representation from Centers, CRPs and the IEA was established late last year. This WG organized a workshop at FAO on 06-07 February 2017 with representation from across CGIAR System constituencies - key findings from those discussions are elaborated in a brief. A consultation document then went out to the workshop participants so that the ‘‘constituency” leaders could consult with their respective constituencies and provide feedback. 

IEA managed evaluation of SIAC
3 May 2017

The final report and management reponse from the SPIA commissioned, IEA managed evaluation of the SIAC program is out. You can also read the inception report and look through preliminary findings of the evaluation presented at ISPC 14 (ICRISAT, Hyderabad) in September 2016

Vacancy announcement: SPIA Chair
2 May 2017

The Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC) of the CGIAR is seeking to appoint a Chair for its Standing Panel on Impact Assessment. The SPIA Chair plays an important role in expanding the evidence base on CGIAR impact. He/she is an ex officio member of ISPC, and serves for a term of 3 years with possibility of renewal for one additional term. The position requires a minimum commitment of approximately 40 days per year. Deadline for application 15th May, 2017. More information here.

ISPC Foresight Workshop: Threats and Opportunities to Agri-Food Systems in 2050
7 April 2017

As part of its mandate to provide strategic guidance to the CGIAR system, the ISPC launched a foresight work stream in 2017 and inaugurated it with a workshop on “Threats and Opportunities to Agri-Food Systems in 2050.” The workshop, held in Portici, Italy on 7-8 April and co-hosted by the ISPC and Universita degli Studi di Napoli, was designed to tap expertise outside the CGIAR system for external perspectives on major trends and possible disruptions to the global food system to 2050. Eighteen papers were solicited and presented to a group of 32 international experts.

Prabhu Pingali, the ISPC Council member leading the foresight work stream, opened the proceedings by providing context for the workshop and describing the objectives of the foresight work stream, which will consist of a comprehensive analysis of major trends and drivers of agri-food systems and future opportunities for AR4D. He reminded participants that the food system is a chain whereby nutrients from the soil ultimately end up as nutrients in the body. Because each step in the chain is influenced by physical, regulatory, and policy environments, there is a need to examine major trends in the system as well as major disruptions that could affect it, and consider what both mean for the CGIAR.

The workshop was organized around three thematic sessions: i) Analysis of emerging threats and challenges; ii) New opportunities and scientific discovery, and iii) Trends in the agricultural sector.

The closing session of the workshop was devoted to a synthesis of the emerging findings. There was a consensus that a “perfect storm” of global threats and challenges exists that requires R&D and policy solutions, which the CGIAR can—and should—help provide. Areas highlighted include:

  • Rising urbanization, global migration, the “depopulation” of rural areas, and the changing demographic structure of rural populations and smallholder farming. Is the Green Revolution paradigm still driving current thinking?
  • Changing diets, food systems, the rapid rise in over-nutrition, and the epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs)—even as we try to tackle stubbornly high malnutrition rates;
  • Global environmental and sustainability challenges, including climate shocks and extreme events, environmental degradation, and biodiversity loss;
  • Trade integration and the declining competitiveness of developing-country agriculture;
  • A consideration of both demand and supply and the power balance between the production line and the end user
  • A consideration of the problems of food loss as well as food waste in every aspect of the food system.
  • The complexity and fragmentation of food systems, and the role of private industry vs. public investments in supporting the transformation of agri-food systems and their connections with other sectors.
  • Disruptive innovation in science and technology, the role of the private industry and game changers across sectors and disciplines.
  • The need for a long-term research portfolio to build a climate-resilient food system that takes into account the complexity of the food-water-energy nexus.

The papers presented in the workshop will be finalized and published in a book the ISPC will produce in 2018 on “Threats and Opportunities to Agri-Food Systems in 2050.” As a next step in the ISPC foresight work, CGIAR members will be invited to further develop the key outcomes of the workshop and provide inputs on the foresight process to help guide future strategies and priority setting of CGIAR research.

2016
New CGIAR Portfolio Approved
6 October 2016

At the end of September 2016, the CGIAR System Council approved a new portfolio of 11 CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) and three research Platforms, effective January 2017. 

The approval of a more coherent and integrated portfolio of second-generation CRPs was the culmination of a 1.5-year process, in which CGIAR’s Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC) reviewed the CRP and platform pre-proposals, full proposals, and final revised proposals, assessing them for relevance and pro-poor impacts. The assessments, a summary table, and a cover letter are available here

ISPC Chair Maggie Gill presented an overview of the process and the assessments at the second CGIAR System Council Meeting in Mexico City on September 25, for discussion and ultimate approval by the Council. 

DIIVA project book
23 September 2016

Edited by Tom Walker and Jeff Alwang, Crop Improvement, Adoption and Impact of Improved Varieties in Food Crops in Sub-Saharan Africa (CABI) is the result of a major follow-up effort on the Evenson and Gollin baseline. Funded by the BMGF, DIIVA greatly advanced our knowledge of varietal adoption and diffusion in SSA. You can purchase the book from the CABI site or read the PDF on the IMPACT website here.

SPIA workshops and meetings on the sidelines of AAEA Boston
2 September 2016

SPIA organized three events in tandem with AAEA 2016 (Boston). On July 29th (Fri), a day-long IAFP meeting; and, on July 30th (Sat), a mid-term workshop on the long-term/large-scale studies funded by SPIA. Following the AAEA (July 31st-August 2nd), on August 3rd (Wed) and 4th August (Thurs), SPIA, MSU and PIM organized a workshop on recent developments in measuring adoption of agricultural technologies. All event details on this page. There were also a number of sessions and panel discussions by SPIA collaborators during the AAEA: Alain de Janvry (Univ. of Berkeley), Jeff Michler (Univ. of Illinois, session 2074), and Jeff Alwang (Virginia Tech - session 2104 and session 2131) relating to impact assessments in the CGIAR.

You might also be interested in the Learning for adopting workshop jointly organized by FERDI, CERDI, and SPIA in June 2016. The website includes papers Alain de Janvry referred to in his AAEA presentation.

Science Forum 2016: 12-14 April, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
27 April 2016

Approximately 200 people gathered in Addis Ababa to participate in the 2016 Science Forum (SF16) on “Agricultural research for rural prosperity: Rethinking the pathways.” Day 1 took stock of learning, zooming in on research pathways around poverty alleviation, climate change and gender. Breakout groups looked at pathways for specific commodities. A knowledge marketplace at the ILRI campus (host to a dozen research groups and partners) gave participants opportunities to see and hear about different pathways, on the ground. Day 2 looked at different regional experiences, discussing the changing drivers and partnerships and what they mean for agricultural research. Dedicated sessions provided “deep dives” into climate change and understanding impact delivery from agricultural research. Day three brought the insights together with panels identifying take-away messages and directions for research and the challenge of getting evidence into policy use. Visit the SF16 website for news, interviews, presentations and background papers.

Workshop report - Growth corridors in African agriculture
7 February 2016

An ISPC workshop on “Corridors, Clusters, and Spatial Development Initiatives in African Agriculture” was held on 30 November 2015 as a side event of the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture in Africa in close collaboration with NEPAD-CAADP and the European Centre for Development Policy Management. The workshop brought together some of the key institutions and researchers that are active on this topic, with the objectives of understanding the current state of thinking in research and policy circles, and to help define how best the ISPC might contribute through its strategic study on corridors and spatial development initiatives in African Agriculture. The workshop report is available here and the final ISPC-commissioned paper is under publication (soon available online).

New Executive Director, ISPC Secretariat
5 February 2016

The ISPC is delighted to announce the appointment of Leslie Lipper as the new Executive Director of the Secretariat. Leslie has been a senior environmental economist in the Agriculture and Development Economics Division at FAO for the past 10 years, leading a program of applied research and policy analysis related to sustainable agricultural development. Focus areas have included analytical work on seed systems, crop genetic diversity and sustainable intensification, payments for environmental services in agricultural landscapes and climate change, agriculture and food security. For the past five years Leslie has led the  Economics and Policy Innovations for Climate smart agriculture (EPIC) programme at FAO, which develops concepts, methods and country support work on climate smart agriculture. She has published extensively, and is a lead author on the FAO 2016 State of Food and Agriculture report on climate change, agriculture and food security, as well as two recent FAO reports on the topic: Climate Smart Agriculture: policies, practices and financing for food security, adaptation and mitigation (2010) and Food Security and Agricultural Mitigation in Developing Countries: Options for Capturing Synergies (2009). Leslie holds a doctorate in Agricultural and Resource Economics (University of California at Berkeley), an M.S in International Agricultural Development (University of California at Davis) and a B.A. International Relations (UC Davis).

2015
Science Forum 2016: 12-14 April 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
26 November 2015

For 2016, in response to the new CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework having 3 SLOs, and with suggestions from the Consortium and Centers, the ISPC has selected the topic: “Agricultural research for rural prosperity: rethinking the pathways” to focus on the SLO which has not yet been addressed in a Science Forum (SF) – the contribution of agriculture to reducing poverty. The main objective of SF16 is to rethink the pathways for agricultural research to stimulate inclusive development of rural economies in an era of climate change. The Forum will marshal evidence and build on lessons learned to date, to suggest an updated list of priority research areas and approaches which involve more strategic and inclusive engagement with partners.

SF16 will be co-hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and held from 12-14 April 2016 in Addis Ababa. See the SF16 website for more details about the program and participation.

Seeking New Executive Director, ISPC Secretariat
5 August 2015

The ISPC is seeking a new Executive Director to lead the Secretariat. The Executive Director will be responsible for planning and organizing the work of the ISPC, the administration of the Secretariat (including budget management), and monitoring the execution of the Council's recommendations after approval by the Fund Council of the CGIAR. Please see the full vacancy announcement No. IRC2961 here.

Science Forum 2013 - Special Section - Food Security
9 June 2015

The Science Forum organized by the ISPC (co-hosted by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development – BMZ, Germany) in 2013 took the title: Nutrition and Health Outcomes: Targets for agricultural research. Forum discussions identified the need to conduct research which focuses on better understanding of some of the pathways between agriculture and nutrition as well as how to measure or evaluate progress along them. Another area in need of further exploration was how research could help to ensure poor consumers had access to diverse, nutritious foods. These two broad topics were explored in more detail at a joint Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH)/ISPC follow-up workshop held at IFPRI exactly one year after the Science Forum; key findings from the workshop were published in a brief in January 2015.

NOW - a set of papers from the 2013 Science Forum has been published in a special section of Food Security entitled “Strengthening the links between nutrition and health outcomes and agricultural research”. The 10 papers in the issue illustrate how global food systems are changing and suggest how agricultural research needs to change if it is to make a major contribution to nutrition and health outcomes. The papers, together with an editorial by the ISPC, can be accessed here.

ISPC Strategic Studies: Metrics and Biotechnology Reports
17 February 2015

The ISPC has recently published the final outputs from the strategic studies on ‘Metrics’ and ‘Biotechnology’. We hope that these publications will be valuable contributions to the development of the SRF and the next round of CRPs. The Strategic Study of Biotechnology Research in CGIAR addresses issues ranging from gene discovery to the delivery of GM variety and livestock research products, bioinformatics, IP rights, and capacity issues; in addition to 10 recommendations; it also offers detailed suggestions for implementation. The report of the Strategic Study on Data, metrics and monitoring in CGIAR presents an analysis of the current activities within CGIAR concerning data, metrics and indicators, and offers a series of recommendations to address the key issues and challenges identified.

Seeking New Members of Council
16 February 2015

The ISPC is seeking to appoint three Council Members in July 2015: one with expertise in Crop science, one in Social Science and one in Water research and management. A fourth Council Member will be appointed in March 2016 with expertise in plant genetic resources and their management. View the advert here.

Experimental Evaluations Call
9 January 2015

SIAC's Project Steering Committee (PSC) approved the funding of 3 proposals under the April 2014 experimental evaluations call. 21 expressions of interest (EOIs) were received in June 2014, and 8 proponents were invited to submit full proposals by September. More details on the project page. Full proposals will be shared shortly.

2014
Joint A4NH/ISPC nutrition workshop
25 September 2014

The joint A4NH/ISPC workshop on nutrition was recently held at IFPRI Headquarters in Washington, DC on 22-23 September 2014. This was a follow-up workshop to the 2013 Science Forum that focused on “Nutrition and Health Outcomes: Targets for Agricultural Research”. The main purpose of this invitation-only workshop was to inform the second round of CRP proposals in terms of delivering improved nutrition outcomes from agricultural research. The workshop had two themes for discussion: "Research to increase access to an affordable, nutritious and safe diet" and “Evaluating the impact of agricultural interventions and investments on nutrition”. View the agenda and presentations from the workshop here.

Call for Expressions of Interest (EOI)
5 September 2014

The Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) is inviting expressions of interest in studies that seek to measure the impacts of widely-adopted CGIAR research-related interventions. Last date: 5pm CET, 13 October 2014. More information in the call document.

IAFP Meeting, July 2014 & DNA fingerprinting Workshop, August 2014
29 August 2014

Presentations from the IAFP Meeting, Minneapolis are now available. More information on the SPIA Events page. In August 2014, Greg Traxler and Mariana Kim (Gates Foundation) organized a workshop on DNA fingerprinting where findings from SPIA-led DIIVA project, and the SIAC 1.1 effort led by MSU were presented. Brief summary of proceedings on the project page.

New publications:DIIVA Synthesis Report & Impact Brief, and Legumes Impact Brief
28 August 2014

Key results on adoption of 20 food crops across 30 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, data for which was collected as a part of the Diffusion and Impact of Improved Varieties in Africa (DIIVA) project, are presented in the Impact Brief No. 42. The Synthesis Report presents information on Objective 1 and Objective 2 of DIIVA. Legumes Impact Brief No. 44 presents data on adoption and impacts of improved legume varieties. 

Conservation Agriculture Study - Special Issue
26 June 2014

A set of papers from the ISPC strategic study on conservation agriculture (CA) has been published in a special issue of Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment entitled “Evaluating conservation agriculture for small-scale farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia”. The 13 papers in the issue give insight into the state of the science on CA across a range of disciplines - agronomy, economics, environmental science and social sciences. The papers, together with an editorial by the ISPC can be accessed here.

Vacancy in the ISPC Secretariat
4 June 2014

The ISPC Secretariat is seeking applications from qualified candidates for a Senior Agriculture Officer (Agricultural Research) post. The incumbent will provide scientific and technical analysis in the areas of strategy and trends for agricultural research in developing countries, independent program review, mobilization of science and impact assessment. The deadline for applications is 19 June 2014. The full vacancy announcement is available here.

New CGIAR impact assessment website
22 May 2014

A new CGIAR Impact Assessment site, managed by the ISPC’s Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA), has been launched. The website has a number of new features, including an Impact Blog, a Key References page, and a page entitled "Where is the Evidence?" that maps publications (a work in progress). In addition, the site will provide regular updates on impact assessment activities around the CGIAR and attempt to build a Community of Practice.  In time, SPIA plans to feature a large and quality-rated database of CGIAR impact assessments, allowing readers to see a broad range of impact assessments and to derive useful impact-related information. Click here for more.

New ISPC leadership and members
22 May 2014

The ISPC is pleased to announce the appointment of Maggie Gill as the new ISPC Chair, and welcomes the arrival of two new Council members, Segenet Kelemu and Thomas Tomich. Ken Cassman, former Chair, and Rashid Hassan, former Council member, concluded their terms at the end of 2013. With thanks for their valuable contributions, the ISPC wishes them well in their new endeavors. Magie Gill (UK) has been with the ISPC/Science Council since 2004 and is Chair of Integrated Land Use at the School of Geosciences, College of Physical Sciences, University of Aberdeen.

LETTER FROM THE CHAIR

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Letter from the Chair - July 2016
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NEWS

ISPC MEETINGS

The fifteenth meeting of the ISPC was held from 04-05 April 2017 in Rome, Italy.

The fourteenth meeting of the ISPC was held from 14-16 September 2016 at ICRISAT Headquarters, Patancheru, India.

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

The ISPC is facilitating System-wide agreement on the nature and assessment of Quality of Research for Development (QoR4D). A small working group (WG) on QoR4D with representation from Centers, CRPs and the IEA was established late last year. This WG organized a workshop at FAO on 06-07 February 2017 with representation from across CGIAR System constituencies - key findings from those discussions are elaborated in this brief.

The fifteenth meeting of the ISPC was held from 04-05 April 2017 in Rome, Italy.