Food security, poverty reduction and sustainable natural resource management interventions need to be robust if they are to meet the challenges of a changing and uncertain climate. Ensuring their success, requires a strong ex-ante analytical capacity to diagnose points of vulnerability and intervention and the trade-offs between environmental and socioeconomic impacts.

Major components of CCAFS involve foresight studies, vulnerability assessment and ex ante impact assessment. These components have a strong capacity enhancement component, ensuring that the methods are used outside and beyond CCAFS, and a strong methodological component, through the development of new approaches to undertake such activities.

While a substantial proportion of current activities grew out of the original CCAFS planning documents that were assembled in 2010-2011, various extensions are being made to the portfolio, especially with respect to global coverage, and some gaps are being filled.  Thus, a certain amount of priority setting is being continuously conducted.

One example is the identification of two new CCAFS target regions and research sites in 2012. Another example is identifying climate-resilient yet under-researched crops, to strengthen agronomic and modeling research into these crops in the appropriate Centers with suitable partners – good progress has been made on a model of cassava, for instance.

CCAFS priority setting work is set within the broader priorities of CGIAR. CGIAR’s Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) provides the overarching outcomes that all CGIAR research is expected to contribute to. The SRF sets the boundaries of the CCAFS portfolio of activities, extending them into new and innovative research areas such as sustainable diets and nutrition-smart agriculture.

One of the key outputs of CCAFS Research Theme on Data and Tools from Phase 1 (2010-2015) is a set of ex-ante assessment tools to evaluate the likely impacts of different research and development approaches. The tools build on previous integrated assessment work at many different organisations and integrate different components in novel ways.  

Armed with the right tools, CCAFS now has the opportunity to drive budget allocations by foresight analysis and ex-ante impact assessments in the context of climate change. The suite of tools that CCAFS and partners are applying (and in some cases, developing) for priority setting include:

  • Global integrated assessment partial equilibrium models: International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRIIMPACT model and International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASAGLOBIOM model;
  • Quantitative, dynamic, multi-objective  mathematical programming tools to evaluate different agricultural production technologies for their “climate smartness” (contributions to adaptation, food security, and mitigation) in different contexts;
  • Semi-quantitative static methods (congruence, scoring methods, and hybrid methods);
  • Quantitative, static tools based on economic surplus methods; and
  • Household models linked to crop and livestock simulation models to evaluate different technology options at household and landscape scales.

Priority setting will remain a key activity within CCAFS in the coming years, given the dynamism of the agriculture, development and climate change nexus.  The participatory regional scenarios that have now been completed for all the CCAFS regions are providing an integrating mechanism for assessing adaptation, risk management and mitigation options. The approach is an iterative approach that evaluates the costs and benefits at different levels in the hierarchy; and it examines how different options may play out at farm, regional and global levels in different, plausible futures.