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  • Independent evaluation shows FTA's progress towards targets

Independent evaluation shows FTA’s progress towards targets

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FTA communications

In 2020, the CGIAR Advisory Services Shared Secretariat (CAS) commissioned independent reviews of the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs). The evaluation of the Forests, Trees and Agroforestry CRP was completed in December 2020 and is now available on the CAS website  https://cas.cgiar.org/evaluation/crp-2020-fta.

CAS Secretariat’s evaluation of FTA [PDF]
The purpose of the review was to assess the extent to which FTA is delivering quality of science and demonstrating effectiveness in relation to its theory of change. The review focuses on activities and results of the second phase of FTA, from 2017 to 2019.

According to the review, FTA showed high scientific productivity and strong implementation performance in phase II and is likely to make significant progress toward most of its planned end-of-program targets.

The review found that the close collaboration between FTA partners, its independent and efficient governance, and the effective prioritization and management of resources resulted in a high level of programmatic value-added. Strong partnerships with universities and research institutions, and collaboration between scientists were also found to have strengthened the CRP.

Going forward, the review recommended that the most important impact pathways for FTA should continue to be: its positive influence on government and on international policy processes and that the program should find ways to conserve and protect the significant value-added it has built beyond 2021.

The FTA Independent Steering Committee and Management Team have released a letter on their perspectives following this extensive independent review. You may read their letter here.



This article was produced by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with ICRAF, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Outcome Evaluation Approach – 5 Case Studies from FTA

Outcome Evaluation Approach – 5 Case Studies from FTA

Yordana Yawate, carries a sack of sago pith to be filtered on the banks of the Tuba river in Honitetu village, Maluku province, Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR
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Two recent publications discuss how to effectively assess the impact of transdisciplinary (TDR) research and apply these methods to 5 case studies.

The creation of the CGIAR Research Programs (CRP) was aimed to increase the social, economic, and environmental impacts of research. These programs have intentionally developed broader and deeper partnerships with a wide range of policy and development actors (i.e., international conservation and development organizations, NGOs, policy actors, other stakeholders), as well as with other researchers and research organizations. These efforts mirrored a shift in the broader research environment toward more engaged, problem-centred research. Such research, known variously as Transdisciplinary Research (TDR), Mode 2 Research, and Sustainability Science, among other terms, actively involves stakeholders to help ensure the relevance of the research, incorporate a broader range of expertise in the research process, and promote the co-generation of knowledge with research users.

In theory, engaged TDR approaches should help address complex sustainability problems and contribute to more and better outcomes. However, the increased complexity of these approaches makes impact assessment even more challenging than for traditional research approaches. Research impact assessment is chronically challenged by the fact that the uptake and use of research-based knowledge is incremental, with multiple steps and other intervening factors, often with long time-lags. Measuring and attributing impact are difficult. CGIAR research impact assessment has typically attempted to measure the benefits of improved technologies generated by CGIAR research; this assumes that the main contributions of the research are bundled within an improved plant variety or other technology package. TDR deliberately aims to contribute to several impact pathways simultaneously, by supporting capacity-building and empowerment among partners, facilitating dialogue and political processes, co-generating knowledge that will be implemented directly by partners, as well as through more conventional research products. However, empirical evidence of whether and how transdisciplinary approaches contribute to (more) effective scientific and social outcomes remains limited.

CIFOR Senior Associate Scientist Brian Belcher and his team in the Sustainability Research Effectiveness Program (SRE) at Royal Roads University have developed methods to assess TDR. The SRE Program has also conducted a series of case studies of completed FTA research projects to investigate the link between transdisciplinary research and societal effects. They recently published two papers to share lessons from their work.

A refined method for theory-based evaluation of the societal impacts of research [pdf]
A refined method for theory-based evaluation of the societal impacts of research” (Belcher et al., 2020) provides a detailed description of concepts and a method for assessing the relationship between research processes, outputs, and outcomes. The Outcome Evaluation Approach uses an actor-centred Theory of Change as the analytical framework, and accounts for complexity by recognizing the role of other actors, context, and external processes in change. The article provides stepwise guidance on how to:

  • document a theory of change;
  • determine data needs and sources;
  • collect data;
  • manage and analyze data; and
  • present findings.


The paper responds to the need for appropriate methods to demonstrate (for accountability) and analyze (for learning) whether and how research projects contribute to change processes, in an effort to make research more effective in addressing complex sustainability challenges.

Linking transdisciplinary research characteristics and quality to effectiveness [pdf]
Linking Transdisciplinary Research Characteristics and Quality to Effectiveness: A Comparative Analysis of Five Research-for-Development Projects” (Belcher et al., 2019) reports lessons from outcome evaluations [1] of five FTA projects. The five projects:

  1. Brazil Nut Project (BNP)
  2. Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP)
  3. Fire and Haze Indonesia (F&H)
  4. Global Comparative Study on Forest Tenure Reform-Peru (GCS-FTR), and
  5. Support to the Development of Agroforestry Concessions in Peru (SUCCESS)



represent a wide range of research approaches, social and policy contexts, and outcomes. Each case study used the Outcome Evaluation Approach described in Belcher et al. (2020) to document the project’s Theory of Change and assess whether and how outcomes were realized. The analysis also used Belcher et al.’s (2016) Transdisciplinary Research Quality Assessment Framework (QAF) to characterize each project by the degree to which its design and implementation conformed with transdisciplinary criteria.

Each project had a deliberate focus on moving beyond knowledge production to influence policy and practice. To do that, the projects employed a variety of strategies that crossed disciplinary bounds and engaged a range of partners and stakeholders at different levels. The results demonstrate that projects employing more transdisciplinary characteristics make more diverse contributions as they tend to leverage more diverse mechanisms of change. The participation of various system actors contributed to projects’ relevance and strongly contributed to the uptake and use of the research. Projects that invested most in developing and facilitating participation (e.g., the Global Comparative Study on Forest Tenure Reform-Peru and the Support to the Development of Agroforestry Concessions in Peru projects) were the most successful in generating social learning and building coalitions. Projects that employed the most traditional scientific models (e.g., the Brazil Nut Project and the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program) but still invested in outreach and engagement, were able to realize significant outcomes. Research project efforts to support social processes helped translate and broker knowledge outputs and made substantial additional contributions through capacity-building, initiating and supporting discourse, and relationship-building.

Given the results, it is clear that research aiming to influence policy and practice change should consider integrating and reflecting on TDR characteristics more intentionally from the early planning stages and throughout the whole research process. This new Outcome Evaluation Approach will help linking outcomes, outputs and TDR more effectively, justifying the need for more transdisciplinary science, with an increase in overall results and global benefits.

[1] Two individual  project outcome evaluation reports have been published (Brazilian Nut, SWAMP), while the others are forthcoming (F&H, GCS-FTR, SUCCESS).

FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) Plan of Work and Budget (POWB) 2019

CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) Plan of Work and Budget (POWB) 2019

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The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s (FTA) Plan of Work and Budget (POWB), approved by the Independent Steering Committee (ISC) of FTA and endorsed by the Board of Trustees of FTA’s lead center the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), details the expected key results, planning for effectiveness and efficiency, and program management for 2019.

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  • Ensuring quality of research for development: The MELIA system

Ensuring quality of research for development: The MELIA system

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The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is an integrated global research initiative that aims to enhance the use, management and governance of forests, agroforestry and tree genetic resources as a way to improve livelihoods and the integrity of the environment. To test methods, approaches, partnerships and engagement strategies, and to seek the most effective means of achieving positive change, the program uses an innovative system to ensure the quality of its research, to monitor, evaluate and assess the outcomes (defined as changes in technical, social and economic behavior) and impact (defined as changes in actual environmental quality and human wellbeing) of its work.

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  • Strengthening the impact culture of research on forests, trees and agroforestry

Strengthening the impact culture of research on forests, trees and agroforestry

CIFOR researchers assess the nature of economic losses likely to be incurred through displacement of chitemene fields from large-scale jatropha plantations. ©Center For International Forestry Research/Jeff Walker
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Photo: Jeff Walker/CIFOR

By Brian Belcher, Senior Associate, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

In the new phase of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, the previous work under “Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment” has been re-labelled as “Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Impact Assessment” (MELIA).

FTA is developing its MELIA unit as a core research and support unit with team members from each of the participating centers. In the new phase, FTA has a great opportunity to make significant theoretical, methodological and empirical contributions to help improve research quality and research effectiveness within FTA, the CG, and beyond.

The MELIA work will be organized in four main clusters of activities:

Foresight/ex ante impact assessment

This is a new area for FTA, in which we will develop tools and approaches for assessing strategic opportunities and estimating potential impact to help inform priority setting and planning. In 2017, MELIA will develop our approach, in collaboration with other CGIAR Research Programs such as Policies, Institutions and Markets and Roots, Tubers and Bananas and in conjunction with research priority setting work in the FTA Management Support Unit.

Ex post impact assessment

MELIA will use and adapt experimental and quasi-experimental methods to assess the impact especially of technical or policy interventions. In 2017, for example, FTA will undertake an ex post impact assessment of the Agroforestry for Food Security Program in Malawi with support from the CGIAR Standing Panel on Impact Assessment.

Read also: Caught in a good loop – how to assess the usefulness of research

Outcome evaluation

MELIA will continue to develop, test and refine theory-based research evaluation methodology to assess research contributions in complex systems and to build a series of outcome evaluation case studies and a longer-term comparative analysis of cases. In 2017, at least four evaluations will be completed and four new studies will be launched. For example, an outcome evaluation of a gender-specific project focusing on women’s participation in forest management in Uganda will help improve the sensitivity of MELIA tools and strengthen FTA’s theory of gender transformative change in FTA landscapes. MELIA will also explore opportunities for collaboration with CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security(CCAFS) and other partners.

Indicators, monitoring & reporting

This work will support the ongoing development of indicators, indicator frameworks and data collection to support the five Flagships in their reporting of outputs, outcomes and indicators for monitoring and reporting. Overall, this work will foster an impact culture within FTA, help ensure that FTA’s work remains relevant and useful in rapidly changing and complex circumstances, learn lessons from the rich FTA experience and guide ongoing research, engagement and capacity development to maximize effectiveness. In 2017, MELIA will support a FTA-wide work to revise the set of FTA indicators and milestones.

Key outcomes of MELIA’s work in 2017 will be

  • improved capacity and improved design, monitoring, evaluation and learning (DMEL);
  • strengthened impact culture within FTA;
  • stronger empirical evidence of contributions of FTA research; and
  • better, more transparent estimates of potential impact leading to well-informed strategies and improved donor confidence.
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  • Assessing quality in impact-oriented research

Assessing quality in impact-oriented research

Measuring impact of research is not as straightforward as measuring tree trunks. Photo: Marco Simola/CIFOR
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By Brian Belcher, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

Measuring impact of research is not as straightforward as measuring tree trunks. Photo: Marco Simola/CIFOR
Measuring impact of research is not as straightforward as measuring tree trunks. Photo: Marco Simola/CIFOR

Contemporary research in the social and environmental realms places strong emphasis on achieving ‘impact’. Research programs and projects aim to generate new knowledge with a focus on promoting and facilitating the use of that knowledge to enable change, solve problems and support innovation.

Much of the research conducted by CIFOR under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) takes this approach. The social, environmental and economic problems we face today are complex and multi-dimensional and they operate at multiple scales. They also usually involve diverse stakeholders with different perspectives and interests.

Successfully addressing these problems requires combinations of new knowledge and innovation, alongside action and engagement. Therefore, the research we do tends to cross disciplinary lines (referred to as “interdisciplinary research”) and often involves stakeholders and other actors in the research process (referred to as “transdisciplinary research”).

As the boundaries between disciplines are crossed, traditional academic definitions, criteria and measures of research quality no longer suffice. They may even constrain or hinder effective work. For example, reviews of grant applications or journal article submissions that rely primarily on traditional academic research quality criteria may overlook or under-estimate the value of projects that cross disciplines or that include important engagement, capacity-building or knowledge translation components.

Likewise, researchers and research managers need appropriate criteria to guide the design and implementation of inter- and transdisciplinary projects and programs. As research approaches evolve, we need a parallel evolution of the principles and criteria that we use to define and evaluate research quality.

To help meet this need, a team of researchers from CIFOR and Royal Roads University recently conducted a systematic review of the literature as part of CIFOR’s Evidence-Based Forestry Initiative. We tackled this project while asking the question: “What are appropriate principles and criteria for defining and assessing transdisciplinary research quality?”

The study provides an overview of the relevant literature and summarizes the main aspects of quality identified. Four main principles emerged: relevance (including social significance and applicability); credibility (including criteria of integration and reflexivity added to traditional criteria of scientific rigor); legitimacy (including criteria of inclusion and fair representation of stakeholder interests); and effectiveness (with criteria that assess actual or potential contributions to problem solving and social change).

We organized the main criteria within these four principles and then developed a research quality assessment framework that can be used by researchers, supervisors, research managers and research evaluators to guide and assess research design and implementation. All in the hope of achieving greater ‘impact.’

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  • Caught in a good loop – how to assess the usefulness of research

Caught in a good loop – how to assess the usefulness of research

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A key element of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment. Behind these unwieldy words sits a simple truth: we can learn from our mistakes or from things that go right. But to learn, we need to know what went wrong – or well – and why. This is where impact assessments come in. Daniel Suryadarma, Senior Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), was in charge of monitoring FTA research projects until March 2016. We asked him…

…how are FTA research programs monitored, evaluated and assessed?

Photo: World Agroforestry Centre
Photo: World Agroforestry Centre

Daniel Suryadarma: We have what we call the Planning, Monitoring and Learning Framework. The framework states that FTA is trying to contribute to complex systems with multiple actors, often opposing interests, and long time horizons.

In systems like these, it is very difficult – or dare I say impossible – to measure with certainty how much the contribution of FTA is to an observed change, either at the policy-making level or on the ground.

Therefore, we rely on a theory-based approach, where we use a tool called Theory of Change (ToC) to piece together how our activities and outputs will eventually lead to outcomes and impacts.

Tell us more about the Theory of Change. How does this work concretely?

Generically, such a Theory of Change works like this:

outputs are followed by an engagement strategy which then leads to intermediate outcomes and end of program outcomes and, eventually, impacts.

These impacts may vary depending on a particular project or activity, but the idea is that we have to be able to tell a coherent story of how our outputs, i.e. research results, will go through which channels – which we call impact pathways – to eventually reach the intended outcomes and impacts.

FTA has a Theory of Change that is aggregated from the Theories of each flagship. Also, each sizable research project, i.e. those worth over $500,000 has its own ToC. We work with scientists to determine these from the start of the project.

But it is important to note that these Theories are not set in stone – they should be revisited and adjusted as a project unfolds, because there may be unintended consequences, things that cannot be predicted.

An example is a biophysical research project found that the prevalence of trees improve water quality (as the roots act as filter, among others). A government took this finding and enacted a new policy that expelled all villagers living near the forests, so they don’t cut the trees down. This is an unintended consequence of the research, which merely wants to know the correlation between forest cover and water quality. Foresight is never 100%.

The CGIAR FTA Theory of Change, for a larger image click here
The CGIAR FTA Theory of Change, for a larger image click here

Once a project has a Theory of Change, the scientists can use it to guide them as they try to achieve their intended outcomes and impacts. This is where monitoring comes in. The scientists report to us when a particular target audience or outcome has been achieved, and we document it.

Finally, the ToC and the monitoring data will be utilized as the structure against which the project is evaluated and assessed. Usually, we mainly look at end of program outcomes as the benchmark of whether a project is successful or not.

But more importantly, a ToC will allow us to tell a story proving that the project indeed contributed to a particular outcome or impact. In addition, we also try to substantiate the size of our contribution.

In other words, we would like to know whether a particular outcome or impact for example, a new government policy on forests would have happened without our research.

The results of the evaluation will feed back into the design of new projects. This is what we call learning. So, there is a loop from planning to monitoring to learning to planning.

Photo: Bruno Locatelli/CIFOR
Photo: Bruno Locatelli/CIFOR

What are the key elements of the assessments? 

As described above, it is the Theory of Change, of course, and also evaluation questions and methods. We want to be as rigorous as possible, as that’s the only way we get meaningful enough results to learn from.

Are there consequences for the research and for implementing the results, depending on the assessment? What happens with the recommendations? 

Usually we leave it to the scientists to reflect on the evaluation results. I should say that this is where an approach called participatory evaluation, as opposed to an independent evaluation, becomes very useful. In a participatory evaluation, the scientists are involved closely from defining the research questions, finalizing the ToC, to reviewing the results. Learning takes place throughout these activities.

In an independent evaluation, for example, scientists are at an arms-length. I find that independent evaluations are not really useful for learning, as scientists who don’t feel like they are a part of the process will likely be defensive and reject the results or recommendations.

What were the most striking examples or success stories? 

FTA is actually quite successful in influencing policies and practices that will eventually result in better environmental and livelihood outcomes. For example

  • Daniel Murdiyarso, CIFOR Principal Scientist, was one of the authors of the Indonesian National Strategy on REDD+;
  • Research findings and tools from CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study on REDD+ are adopted by the Son La Forest Protection and Development Fund in Vietnam;
  • CIFOR’s research findings on Payment for Ecosystem Services have been used by Vietnam’s Central Forest Protection and Development Fund and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to revise their policy and call for support from donors;
  • FTA research gave input to the Letter of Intent between the Governments of Indonesia and Norway on reducing Indonesia’s Greenhouse Gas emissions. One idea that had been discussed for this letter was the possibility of an extensive tree-planting program rather than a moratorium on new logging concessions. The report Reducing Forestry Emissions in Indonesia showed that planting the number of trees needed to achieve emissions-reduction targets would require a land area twice the size of Indonesia. CIFOR was able to influence the way the Letter of Intent was drafted and negotiated because both parties trusted CIFOR’s science-based policy advice.

More examples can be found in the FTA brochure, at CIFOR’s Outcomes and Impact page, and in the assessment of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+. As most of CIFOR’s research is related to FTA, this is really an assessment of FTA.

Finally, we are currently developing about 10 Outcome Stories with scientists, showcasing the successes of various projects. They will be published shortly in CIFOR’s Forests News.

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  • The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry: Theory of Change

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry: Theory of Change

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  • Informing REDD+ policy: An assessment of CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study

Informing REDD+ policy: An assessment of CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study

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This impact assessment from the first phase of FTA research concluded that the combination of research, policy engagement and practical support on the ground has been effective but also gives recommendations for improvements.


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  • With ImpresS, CIRAD is analysing the impact of its research

With ImpresS, CIRAD is analysing the impact of its research

Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) researchers interviewing village leaders near Malindi.
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  • Forests, Trees and Agroforestry: Landscapes, Livelihoods and Governance Pre-proposal 2017–2022

Forests, Trees and Agroforestry: Landscapes, Livelihoods and Governance Pre-proposal 2017–2022

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In the pre-proposal for the next phase of the CGIAR Research Program for Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA),  scientists from the six collaborating centers have outlined their vision of research to make an impact for a sustainable future and to tackle climate change. Please send your comments and feedback to cgiarforestsandtrees@cgiar.org

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  • New tool to measure resilience and report impact across CGIAR research programs

New tool to measure resilience and report impact across CGIAR research programs

A farmer fertilizing his rice field in Rammang-rammang village, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Resilience is a key term when it comes to facing climate change in agriculture. Photo: Tri Saputro/CIFOR
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By Marianne Gadeberg, originally published at CGIAR WLE

Implicit in all development work is the quest for impact. Positively influencing livelihoods, landscapes and ecosystems is the goal of our work. Effecting such changes is known to require long-term, collaborative efforts, yet many development interventions take place within limited timeframes and scopes.

This is where many development practitioners are faced with a conundrum: how to measure results, and satisfy donors’ and funders’ demand for impact reporting, when the typical three-year development project has long expired by the time impacts emerge?

One group of researchers from the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems; the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security; and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry set out to develop a tool that would allow for measuring results as far along the chain of change as possible, but that wouldn’t place significant additional monitoring or administrative burdens on the project manager.

Measuring resilience

A farmer fertilizing his rice field in Rammang-rammang village, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Resilience is a key term when it comes to facing climate change in agriculture. Photo: Tri Saputro/CIFOR
A farmer fertilizing his rice field in Rammang-rammang village, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Resilience is a key term when it comes to facing climate change in agriculture. Photo: Tri Saputro/CIFOR

They explored the concept of resilience in the context of agriculture, making the basic assumption that an improvement in ecosystem resilience equals impact and will ultimately yield an improvement in human well-being. The result is a recently published tool, which enables implementers of development interventions to track and monitor any changes in resilience.

Download the tool: A Monitoring Instrument for Resilience

Along with changes to ecosystem services, the tool proposes two other ‘categories’ of project outcomes that underpin farm-level resilience: increasing capacity of people to adapt and enhanced livelihoods and farm functioning.

Terry Hills, lead author of the publication detailing the tool, explains: “The hazards that test the resilience of a system—for example the sudden flood that destroys a farmer’s crop—is unlikely to be experienced during the lifetime of a project. What you need to measure are the factors that underpin resilience, such as people’s capacity to adapt. If your project outcomes have positive effects on these factors, then you can talk about having achieved impact.”

Read full blog at CGIAR WLE




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  • A Monitoring Instrument for Resilience

A Monitoring Instrument for Resilience

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This document describes a monitoring instrument for efficiently tracking changes in resilience in agricultural initiatives.

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  • Op-ed: Tackling the structural roots of gender inequity

Op-ed: Tackling the structural roots of gender inequity

Photo: Jeff Walker/CIFOR
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Photo: Jeff Walker/CIFOR
Photo: Jeff Walker/CIFOR

By Margaret Kroma, Assistant Director General, Partnerships & Impact, World Agroforestry Centre

Rural and smallholder women face tremendous obstacles in agricultural production and in strategically participating in crop value chains. But it is not enough to remove obstacles alone, or to increase women’s participation in tree product value chains if the ultimate goal is women’s empowerment.

The research literature is replete with evidence that women participate in the management, utilization and marketing of tree products, and that this participation contributes to food security and household incomes. Policy recommendations point to the importance of increasing women’s access to productive resources including technologies, financial and extension services as well as markets. Yet notwithstanding decades of work to expand women’s access to these resources, a decisive transformation has yet to occur. As it turns out, addressing gender is not so straightforward after all!

Gender research should tackle the structural roots of the problem, going beyond a simple  focus on women as victims of the underlying patriarchy. It should look at why, for example, as the literature shows, wide gaps exist between men and women in the benefits they receive from productive resources, even in situations where both have relatively equal access. Equally, gender research should focus on how community control over landscapes, often vested in older males, affects the tenure and land rights of different social groups, and the uneven and dynamic relations of power within households and communities.

This is an exciting moment as ICRAF re-launches the newsletter of the gender cross-cutting theme within the Forests, Trees, and Agroforestry (FTA) research program of the CGIAR.  The FTA’s Gender Integration Team is committed to integrating relevant gender dimensions into research, as we recognize that such research can contribute substantially to the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are captured in the strategic results framework of the CGIAR consortium.

If the SDGs are to be achieved, the focus will necessarily need to go beyond female farmers and their relative lack of access to productive resources. We will need to aggressively spearhead proven, effective policies that dismantle structural barriers. For example, we need policies that strengthen land rights; that increase the diversity of decision-makers in agriculture; and that introduce innovative financing and extension schemes that enable men and women from different socio-economic backgrounds to participate in the top tiers of agri-value chains.

As the SDGs gather momentum in the landscape of development, let us marshal all of our efforts to generate the research evidence that governments and boundary partners desperately need to focus on the right policy targets and impacts – identifying and dismantling the structural barriers to rural women’s empowerment!



March 5, 2015

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  • Nine suggested SDG indicators for forestry and landscapes

Nine suggested SDG indicators for forestry and landscapes

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My previous blog post provided some context to how forests may fit into the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework. The timing of this discussion is important, as the UN Open Working Group on SDGs will discuss forests in its final meeting on 3-7 February 2014. Following this meeting, member countries of the working group will hand over recommendations for a future development framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals to the UN Secretary General and the General Assembly.

In the following, I explore some further thoughts on suitable indicators for forestry and landscapes. These have crystallized through an intensive dialogue over the past year on the need for new partnerships and cross-cutting solutions that are not restricted by sectoral silos, governance layers or political boundaries.

The SDG process has, by and large, set out with such ambitions, and signals are strong for constructing an SDG framework that is integrated by design. This constitutes an inherent tension for sectors that traditionally define their goals within an established institutional landscape. The forestry sector is no exception to this, and it will be challenging to refrain from using the sector’s traditional boundaries as a starting point when defining targets and indicators. The SDG process provides an opportunity to step forward and raise the bar for the sector’s contributions by taking a broader view of the issues. This is possible through the landscape approach.

That is, in essence, why we should explore “Sustainable landscapes” as an SDG, owned by no sector, but with opportunities to strengthen the contributions to sustainable development by forestry, agriculture and other sectors.

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