Strategy 2014-20

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Strategy 2014-20 / About the Process – CIAT Strategy Update 2014-2020

About the Process – CIAT Strategy Update 2014-2020

In 2008, CIAT established new strategic directions for the coming decade, which make the notion of eco-efficiency a key guiding principle of our research on tropical agriculture. Nearly 6 years on, it is even more apparent than before that multiple crises – global commodity price swings, rapid depletion of natural resources, and the emerging impacts of climate change – are greatly increasing the pressure on farming in the tropics to deliver more for people while requiring less from the land – the essence of eco-efficiency.

Why an update?

Looking ahead to the next 6 years or so, CIAT perceives a need to update its research strategy, taking into consideration the significant restructuring of the CGIAR system, global developments and internal changes at CIAT, which profoundly influence how we translate the eco-efficiency vision into reality. Key developments include the following:

  • CGIAR has undergone profound changes: the Consortium and Fund have created a new macro-environment for the operations of CIAT and other centers.
  • CGIAR formulated its Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) in 2011, which guides the work of its 16 main operational instruments – CGIAR Research Programs  (CRPs) – toward key research-for-development outcomes,
  • CIAT is Lead Center of one CRP – Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) – and contributes to 11 others.
  • Since 2008, as part of a vigorous effort to contribute significantly to the CRPs, CIAT has established a Decision and Policy Analysis (DAPA) Research Area, which has developed a pioneering program of research on climate change adaptation and mitigation. The Center has also revised its global soils research, while also revisiting the approaches used in its work on agricultural biodiversity.
  • Changing conditions in the global economy and environment have continued to generate great uncertainty and political unrest in many countries. During recent years, perceptions about the role of agriculture in economic growth and global stability have shifted, so that for the first time agriculture is being discussed at the highest political levels (G8, G20, etc).

None of those developments and emerging trends invalidates the principles underlying the research directions that CIAT established in 2008. They do, however, create room for an update of CIAT’s strategy – involving revised priorities, directions, and approaches – with the aim of creating stronger synergies between our research areas, as they address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.


While the boundaries of CIAT’s 2008 Strategic directions have not changed, we do see a need for tactical rearrangement of the Center’s emphasis and activities, designed to better direct our efforts toward larger impact. The updated strategy will also help CIAT keep partners and donors well informed about adjustments in our research directions, while also contributing to internal integration and commitment.


  • The strategic directions defined in 2008 were the result of a thorough planning process and have proven to be robust. These directions together with the SRF will mark the boundaries of the update process, which we expect to be inclusive but agile.
  • The process will be (1) transparent, open, and participatory, offering CIAT staff ample opportunities to express their views through face-to-face and online exchanges; (2) duly consultative, primarily using events already planned to glean input from key partners and stakeholders in the regions where CIAT works; and (3) strategic, based on guidance from high-level External Advisers.
  • To facilitate the communications and consultations involved in the strategy update, we will take full advantage of knowledge-sharing tools and methods.
  • Following are key elements of the strategic update process:
  • Validate boundaries (CIAT’s Strategic Directions 2008 and CGIAR’s SRF 2011).
  • Identify major global trends (with specific regional details).
  • Determine principal global challenges (with specific regional details).
  • Analyze and formulate CIAT’s comparative advantages
  • Distill and formulate regional BIG IDEAS (that may be global).
  • Define CIAT’s strategic objectives.