Facilitating change for climate-smart agriculture through science-policy engagement
This paper in the Sustainability journal aims to answer the question: in the context of achieving climate change and food security goals, what are the success factors for science-policy engagement in agricultural research for development (AR4D) in relation to climate-smart agriculture (CSA), to inform policies and realize development outcomes. Science-policy engagement efforts are crucial to ensure that scientific findings from AR4D inform actions of governments, private sector, NGOs and international development partners, accelerating progress toward global goals. However, knowledge gaps on what works limit progress. By analysing 34 case studies of science-policy engagement efforts, the authors revised and improved program theory for science-policy engagement for AR4D under climate change. The approach allocates three research efforts: 1) Engagement – engaging early and throughout with stakeholders within the impact pathway, to demand and co-develop knowledge; 2) Evidence – generation of scientifically credible evidence should allow for opportunism and flexibility to take advantage of quickly emerging needs along the impact pathway; 3) Outreach – communicating research outcomes in appropriate formats that can be understood and used by the next users. Together with capacity building efforts to enable use of research outputs and ensure sustainability of the outcomes generated. This program theory offers a pragmatic pathway to enhance credibility, salience and legitimacy of research. Large-scale adoption of this approach will depend on the existence of incentives for researchers. New ways of measuring scientific performance could increase researchers’ engagement in processes that generate societal impact. Such a shift is inevitable if we are to overcome mega-challenges of achieving food security, adapting to climate change and mitigating emissions from agriculture.