A mindful learning journey for climate and food

© G. Smith (CIAT)
Climate-smart agriculture is a key component of the campaign on Transforming Agricultural Innovation for Climate, Nature and People, co-chaired by CCAFS and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, in the lead up to COP26.

Reflections from masterclasses on climate change, agriculture and food security with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office 

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) collaborated with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) to develop five weekly masterclasses from February to March 2021. Each masterclass covered two themes related to climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and was attended by 25-50 FCDO advisers.

The masterclasses were organized to enable the advisers to design, implement, and assess CSA policy, research, projects, and programs. Their refreshed capacity on CSA will help prepare them for the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) in December 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as for the UN Food Systems Summit and the Nutrition for Growth Summit 2021.

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Download the training materials here.


This initiative formed part of CCAFS and FCDO’s collaboration in co-chairing the campaign, Transforming Agricultural Innovation for Climate, Nature and People.  

Despite the “Zoom Fatigue” phenomenon, the masterclasses were lively and interactive, and turned into a platform for knowledge exchange and relationship-building. The advisers also shared several reflections on the masterclasses, which they coined a “mindful learning journey.”

The “what,” why,” and “how”

The masterclasses were designed to fill the gaps and needs of the FCDO advisers, which in part result from the recent institutional merger of the Department for International Development and Foreign Office (DFID) and the former Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). The presenters from CCAFS highlighted recent developments, experiences, and evidence generated from their work to align with the changing priorities of the FCDO. Specifically, they emphasized the “what,” “why,” and “how” of implementing CSA.

Learning and having fun

Aside from the lessons, the facilitators involved the participants in breathing and visualization techniques to foster a creative atmosphere among the class. In between the sessions, the participants were engaged in physical activities to keep not only the mind, but also the body, moving.

The CCAFS-FCDO team added friendly competitions to see who had the best tops, hats, or room decorations. The competitions encouraged the participants to turn on their cameras and to get to know their new and remote colleagues.

CCAFS also included a support team in each masterclass to interact with the participants in the chat rooms, wherein the participants shared their own experiences, links to relevant resources, and information about their events. These interactions opened new opportunities for collaboration and impact-oriented partnerships.

Download the training materials: Material of the Climate change, agriculture and food security masterclasses for FCDO advisors

Jana Korner works as Global Innovation Manager at CCAFS Southeast Asia. Dhanush Dinesh is the Head of Partnerships and Outreach of CCAFS. Paula Chalinder is the Senior Nutrition Adviser for Global Health Directorate of FCDO. Arne H. Theissen is a freelance consultant on organizational development.