Capacity development

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is a research for development (R4D) program that uses a quality of research for development (QoR4D) framework, relating to the effectiveness of its research.

FTA’s research generates knowledge, products and services that are well-positioned for uptake and use, within a dynamic theory of change, including capacity development and proper support for the enabling environment. FTA’s capacity development focuses on key strategic entry points defined in terms of needs and opportunities to realize the overall FTA Theory of Change (TOC), or ToCs at flagship level.

The overall aim of FTA’s capacity development efforts is to continue to fill critical capacity gaps among research and development actors and their networks in order to reach development and sustainability objectives. This has been acknowledged by the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC).

For FTA, an R4D program, capacity development and high-impact strategic partnerships with development actors – globally, nationally, subnationally and locally – are instrumental in the program’s TOC and impact pathways. FTA operationalizes capacity development as a non-linear complex change process that occurs within and between individuals, organizations, institutions and their networks to strengthen the (collective) capabilities of its critical research and development partners for technical, institutional and policy innovations, as well as their uptake at various scales, toward impact.

However, FTA’s capacity development interventions form only a small part of the change processes in the complex innovation system. This system requires constant adaptation to internal and external contextual changes and hence a continuous change in capacities.

For FTA’s impact pathways, capacity development acts as an enabler at each stage of research toward the achievement of outcomes. At the discovery stage, the capacity to frame the right research questions, choose appropriate methodologies, and collect and analyze data is required. This can be achieved through developing individual capacities in partner research organizations, by developing future research leaders.

At the same time, FTA’s research in development and colearning with development partner paradigms require capacity to frame credible and relevant science, from which development partners’ knowledge needs are met. This is achieved through engaging development partners at global, national and subnational scales from the start of the research cycle, in an action research mode. For the proof of concept stage, FTA produces innovative learning materials and delivery approaches. For scaling up and out, FTA develops the capacity to innovate, strengthening relevant innovation/multistakeholder platforms and communities of practice.

Three main targets for FTA’s capacity development activities can be identified:
Global and regional multistakeholder innovation platforms and business forums (including private-sector led) through knowledge provision
National and subnational governments, and international non-governmental organizations, to collaborate in the generation and use of research results and piloting of solutions, as well as codeveloping tools and materials for outscaling
Local-level non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and communities of practice to experiment and roll out evidence-based solutions, learn from experiences and refine approaches for testing at larger scales

The strategic actions to operationalize capacity development as an enabler along the impact pathways emphasize three elements: strengthening partner capacity to design and deliver scientific solutions; innovative learning materials and approaches; and institutional strengthening.

For this, FTA works at individual, organizational and institutional levels of capacity development, with both researchers and research users, including organizations and networks.

Most capacity development actions take place within various flagships and priorities, which embed in their workplans mechanisms whereby increased abilities to demand, undertake and utilize research lead to outcomes and impact at scale.

FTA will monitor capacity development activities/strategic actions, outputs, outcomes and impacts, as part of its overall monitoring, evaluation and learning system (MELIA), including by appropriate ex-post impact assessments, where feasible.

A bioenergy project site is pictured in Perigi Talang Nangka village, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

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