This study presents a synthesis that is an attempt to learn lessons from projects conducted by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). These projects engaged with policy makers and other stakeholders by providing climate science and spaces for dialogue between researchers and decision makers for the purpose of improving climate change and agricultural policies. This study draws conclusions from across projects in five regions and confirms the presence of similar enablers to policy engagement and constraints to the use of scientific findings by policy makers in each region.
The paper is guided by the following research questions: (a) What are the most effective means of science-policy engagement in the areas of climate change, food security, and agriculture?; (b) What are the enabling factors for research uptake in decision making?; and (c) What are the main constraints to policy engagement, and how can they be overcome? The Kaleidoscope Model for agricultural and food security policy change is used throughout the paper to help organize results and conceptualize the process of policy change. The CCAFS projects included in this study relied on sustained engagement between researchers and decision makers through a variety of means. Respondents from all regions indicated the importance of involving decision makers with the research process from the very beginning so that knowledge can be co-created and will meet the needs of the decision makers. The learning alliances and science-policy dialogue forums created through CCAFS projects proved successful in bringing together actors from multiple stakeholders and sectors.
One of the key lessons from the CCAFS projects was that, rather than starting from scratch or trying to force review or revision of a policy that was not on anyone’s agenda, it was better to start by getting involved in a process that was already underway and look at how CCAFS could provide support and evidence. Major constraints faced by projects were the availability of decision makers to attend meetings and participate in project activities, staff turnover within government ministries and departments, lack of time to engage, and the mismatch of political processes with research timelines.