There is great potential for social learning and related approaches to make research for development initiatives more effective, while supporting attainment of development outcomes. This is particularly true of research that tackles complex socio-ecological challenges, such as the nexus where climate change, agriculture and food security meet.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) understands social learning to be a facilitated process of planning, implementing, reflecting and adapting. Learning goes beyond the individual, as diverse stakeholders arrive at collective solutions to complex challenges. Social learning approaches also aim to establish trust and cooperation, leading to greater ownership, support and sustainable behavior change.  

Social Learning covers a range of approaches, goals and needs but commonly it takes into account a series of learning steps – ‘triple-loop learning’. Triple-loop learning helps enable people to distil key lessons from reflection (hindsight) and make best use of those lessons (insights) for future planning (foresight).

Through triple-loop learning, social learning approaches support transformative and sustainable change. They incorporate facilitated iterative processes of working together, in interactive dialogue, exchange, learning, action and reflection and on-going partnership.

Social learning is one of the key strategies, which the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) applies across all its program activities. For example, the program has moved from a logframe system to a result-based management structure, which incorporates reflective spaces for organisational learning and knowledge-sharing, monitoring and evaluation and subsequent learning from emerging results.

Learn more about CCAFS research activities around social learning approaches.