GCARD2: The Focus on Foresight, Partnerships and Capacity Development

ACED-NGO What will be discussed at GCARD2?

In 2010, major relevant stakeholders gathered at the First Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD1) to examine how agricultural research, knowledge and innovation could help in meeting national and international development needs.

Never before has there been such a high degree of global consensus and commitment to agriculture as a vehicle for achieving food security, poverty alleviation and economic growth particularly in developing countries. But the challenges are daunting in a global environment dominated by financial, food price, energy crises and by climate change.

GCARD Roadmap identified a series of transformative measures required to enhance the contribution of agricultural research and innovation towards development outcomes. These measures will focus on six key areas:

  • Collective focus on key priorities as determined & shaped by science and society
  • True and effective partnership between research and those it serves
  • Increasing investments to meet the huge challenges ahead
  • Enhancing capacities to generate, share and use agricultural knowledge for development
  • Effective linkages that embed research in wider development processes and commitments
  • Better demonstration of impacts and returns from agricultural innovation

The Second General Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2) aims at designing the needed practical steps to be undertaken to realize the Roadmap outcomes and then identifying options and strategies of using these outcomes to better positively influence the lives of smallholders.

The conference is organized along three major themes with a specific focus on women and on meeting the needs of smallholders:

Theme 1: Foresight for impact – matching research priorities to future development needs

Matching research actions to desired development outcomes in a fast changing world requires anticipating needs in ways that take account of the diverse perspectives of different countries and sectors and the interaction of agricultural, nutritional/health, environmental and socio-economic development objectives.

Building a shared vision and purpose for Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) actions, from the outset, are essential requirements for achieving commitments and large scale impacts. Foresight discussions will consider how diverse perspectives can best be brought together in ways that combine projections, visioning and scenarios to identify and address key development issues and that value the perspectives of all, grounded in the realities facing communities and nations.

The outcomes are expected to establish collective actions for improved foresight and research planning at global, regional and national levels and identify mechanisms to develop and share skills and applications of forward thinking through initiatives such as the Global Foresight Hub and Regional Foresight Academies.

Theme 2: Partnerships for impact

This theme will elaborate the roles and actions needed by all partners along intended agricultural innovation pathways – as projected for the CGIAR Research Programs and other national, regional and international partnership actions – to achieve impacts at scale against each major development objective.

In different countries, major development objectives include national food security, household food and nutrition security, resilience to climate change, agro-ecosystem resilience, poverty reduction and even greater market returns. Actions to be undertaken to develop such partnerships for impacts include, processes for selecting partners, enabling processes for joint work, governance structures, collective purpose, and mechanisms for effective multi-stakeholder partnerships for research-for development impact.

The gaps and barriers to delivery will be identified for these intended pathways. Participants will explore practical ways by which they propose to address these gaps and barriers and their associated capacity and investment needs through collaborative programmes at national, regional and international scales.

The session around the “Partnership”-themes will identify learning and best practices from experiences so far, how these can be improved upon, and what actions are now required of each stakeholder group to increase the probability of rapid impact. GCARD2, given the participation and commitment of the relevant partners, provides a unique means of building collective purpose, common understanding and shared responsibilities along the pathways concerned.

Theme 3: Capacity development for impact


Stakeholders capacity development remains a major condition for achieving sustainable impacts in agriculture sector. This theme will focus on how to address the new capabilities and collective actions required across the AR4D continuum to be able to achieve impacts at scale.

At first this requires consideration of how to increase the investments and strengthen the needed networks. Secondly the institutional and individual skills required at all levels must be considered. Finally there is a need to take into account how knowledge can be most effectively shared to ensure rapid impacts at scale, and the specific challenges facing system disrupted by conflicts or crises.

Outcomes will be specific collective actions required to begin to address major capacity needs now and in the near future and anticipated changes to be achieved over the subsequent two years.

Refining system level outcomes, improving foresight and the associated prioritization of activities are also key areas for the plan. This will enable to put into action the CGIAR Strategy & Results Framework (SRF), as are expanding concepts of sustainable development beyond agricultural productivity alone. The SRF Action Plan will be developed over the next few months to address these key areas and public discussion in the GCARD2 will help shape the plan for best possible effect.

Taking forward the outcomes

Plenary and parallel thematic sessions on these three major themes will explore how to achieve impacts through collective actions at different levels and responding to expectations from all sectors.

Participants will examine the implications of the Action Plan of the CGIAR Consortium’s Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) in itself and for their own expected responsibilities. The GCARD2 will assess progress since GCARD1 and guide planning and define time-based benchmarks for future actions required towards the desired impacts. Institutions will be able to commit to both individual and collective actions, defining their intended outcomes by 2014 and beyond.

What is your opinion?

How can these three conference core themes be addressed in an integrated way to achieve greater impacts in Agricultural Research For Development?

This blogpost was written by Frejus Thoto and uploaded by Robert Kibaya, two GCARD Social Reporters. It is cross-published from GCARD Blog

Pictures courtesy YouDev and ACED


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