Peter Lowe/ Gennovate

Tackling the Hard Questions Head On to Define Tomorrow’s Research Agenda: Let the Countdown to Science Forum 2018 Begin!

In just under six months’ time Science Forum 2018 – Win more, lose less: Capturing synergies between SDGs through agricultural research, will take place in Stellenbosch, South Africa (10-12 October). SF18 is organized by the CGIAR’S Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC) and co-hosted by the South African Agricultural Research Council.

The objective of Science Forum 2018 (SF18) is to identify substantial interactions between the Sustainable Development Goals (both positive and negative), the role of agricultural research in augmenting synergies and managing trade-offs, and the ensuing implications for the science-policy interface. The SF results will contribute to the discussion of developing research themes and frameworks in CGIAR.

SF18’s point of departure for looking at interactions is focusing on the SDGs that are directly relevant to CGIAR’s research mandate of reducing poverty, improving food and nutrition security for health, and improving natural resource systems and ecosystem services.

Why do we need SF18?

Agriculture has delivered substantial benefits globally in terms of increased food supplies, but it has been less successful in generating the full range of social, economic and environmental benefits needed to realize the CGIAR’s Agenda 2030. To achieve these multiple benefits a paradigm shift is necessary to reposition agriculture in the overall food system.

This must be undertaken in the context of the complex and rising set of challenges facing the sector.  These include: urbanization, changing dietary patterns, natural resource depletion (including the sixth mass extinction), climate change, land degradation, and novel opportunities offered by technological and institutional innovations. 

CGIAR research, with its focus on producing global public goods, is particularly important in this context, since these types of goods play a key role in capturing synergies between multiple objectives in agriculture.

What are the key topics at this year’s Forum?

Based on the emerging scientific literature and global policy discourse, we have identified three areas of priority interactions for CGIAR to consider, given the System’s strategic goals and comparative advantage; and leading up to SF18, we will commission background papers on these topics:

  • Interactions between increasing staple crop productivity, resilience to climate change, improving nutrition and sustaining agro-biodiversity.
  • Interactions between intensifying livestock production for food and nutrition security and: a) increased vulnerability to antimicrobial resistance and zoonoses; b) land use change.
  • Water-energy-food nexus interactions.
  • Strengthening the science-policy interface.

How can I get involved?

  • To keep updated on SF18, keep an eye on our website here: We will be updating the website on a regular basis with information about the event including news, videos, background papers and much more.
  • Are you interested in attending? Registration for the event will be opening in the coming weeks via our website.
  • To join discussions about SF18 on social media, follow us on @ispc_cgiar and please use our official event hashtag #scienceforum2018
  • Do you have questions? You can email us at: 

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