Reforming the research policy and impact culture in the CGIAR: Integrating science and systemic capacity development

Cees Leeuwis*, Laurens Klerkx, Marc Schut

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues that the CGIAR -through its CGIAR Research Programmes-is struggling to fulfil its international mandate of conducting strategic research that contributes to agricultural development and global food security. Ongoing reforms have resulted in a situation where the CGIAR is assessed as if it were a development organisation. This leads the CGIAR to raise unrealistic expectations regarding the development impacts of the science conducted, resulting in ever growing distrust between the Centres and the donor community. Moreover, its short-term funding cycle and current mode of safeguarding scientific quality are not conducive to doing strategic and potentially transformative research. The paper proposes changes in the CGIAR impact culture, driven by a shift in policies that govern the everyday implementation and assessment of research. In line with this, we suggest that the best way to combine the international 'science' and 'development' mandates is through scientific capacity development of staff belonging to national research and innovation systems. This simultaneously requires major changes in the time-horizon of donor funding, and in how research programmes are selected and led. One sentence abstract: The CGIAR should not be managed and assessed as a development organisation, and requires a longer-term horizon in its funding and governance arrangements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-21
JournalGlobal Food Security
Early online date21 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • CGIAR reform
  • Funding policy
  • Impact assessment
  • Research policy


Dive into the research topics of 'Reforming the research policy and impact culture in the CGIAR: Integrating science and systemic capacity development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this