Our Linking Knowledge to Action research theme aims to identify ways to catalyze action from knowledge about long-term adaptation, climate risk management and low emissions agriculture so that we can achieve our vision as quickly as possible.

We focus our efforts on achieving impact in four areas of research: regional socio-economic scenarios, innovations in research and communication, gender and social differentiation, and communicating climate change. 

Who are we? Browse through the core staff members of this research theme

These are the outcomes we’d like to achieve with our research, and our activities that go with them:

4.1.1.  Regional socio-economic scenarios

This research provides evidence on how decision makers are using climate and socio-economic scenarios to create policy environments that enable the adaptation of smallholder agriculture and food security.

Outcome: By the end of 2013, national and regional stakeholders in the five CCAFS regions are focusing on developing more appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies policies using forward-looking climate change focused socio-economic scenarios. In two of our regions, economic communities and international organizations are collaborating to invest in this process for creating an enabling policy environment.

  • Oxford University is facilitating the development of socio-economic scenarios in the five CCAFS regions, and quantifying them using agricultural and climate change models.
  • The CCAFS regional offices in East Africa, West Africa and South Asia are supporting the use of the socio-economic scenarios by public and private actors.
  • The Society for International Development in East Africa is supporting champions of the scenario process in the private, NGO and public sectors to bring the voice of smallholder farmers in the region to regional economic forums. 
Visit the Scenarios page to learn more about this work

4.1.2.  Innovations in Research and Communication

This research provides evidence on how to achieve impact from CCAFS research products beyond the direct influence of the research community.

Outcome: By the end of 2015, because their awareness and capacity have been raised through proven innovative approaches to social learning, thousands of farmers and consumers are adapting to climate change and supporting farmers who are climate smart.

These farmers have implemented at least one change to their agricultural practices that will make them more climate-resilient. This massive move towards climate smart agricultural practices has attracted the attention of the public and private sectors, which have made initial investments to meet the supply and marketing demands of climate smart farmers.

  • Mediae is an organization dedicated to improving the livelihoods of large audiences in Africa through the development of educative, entertaining and effective media.  They have created Shamba Shape Up, a practical, makeover style TV series aimed at East Africa's rapidly growing rural and peri-urban audience with an estimated audience of 10 million viewers throughout the region. CCAFS is collaborating with Mediae so that farmers in East Africa have access to information and resources that can help them adapt to a changing climate by learning about adaptive and mitigative agricultural techniques. Overall, the goal is for the smallholder agriculture sector to become more resilient to the expected climate shocks of the future. Read all Shamba Shape Up related stories on our blog.
  • In Eastern Africa CARE has been researching the barriers that poor farmers and women face in participating in agroforestry and climate smart agriculture, and the opportunities and constraints of carbon finance in smallholder agroforestry.
  • In East and West Africa, PROLINNOVA has been supporting Farmer Innovation Fairs, providing farmers with innovation funds, hosting social learning workshops, and training actors in climate change adaptation.
  • We sponsor a Climate Change and Social Learning Sandbox, a Wiki space to discuss social learning in climate change and develop creative projects that demonstrate the value of such approaches or to implement them as a way to inform local decision-making. The sandbox is a genuine reflection of how social learning works in practice. Learn more: Social Learning and Climate Change
  • The CCAFS regional offices in East Africa, West Africa and South Asia are supporting the implementation of Climate Smart Villages where researchers, development partners, and farmers come together to test climate-smart agricultural interventions.
  • The CCAFS regional offices in East Africa, West Africa and South Asia are supporting Participatory Action Research on adaptation and mitigation in the CCAFS sites.
  • We are supporting the development of a Theory of Change for the CCAFS organization and in our regions and sites.  Within our own research theme, we are basing our M&E and communication plans on the outcome stories we wish to tell. Learn more: Impact Pathways 

4.1.3.  Gender and Social Differentiation

This research provides evidence on how to target climate smart technologies and practices to vulnerable groups so as to rapidly catalyze the adoption of climate smart agriculture and achieve meaningful impact for the smallholder farming community.

Outcome: By the end of 2015, research and development actors understand the importance of social differentiation in climate resilience research, and for adoption of climate smart agricultural practices at the household and community levels.  Our partners are using our tools to design gender-targeted climate smart agriculture research and development programs, and are measuring the overall benefits for improving the adoption of climate smart agricultural practices.

  • The CCAFS gender strategy lays out key research questions related to gender and climate change that reflect critical gaps in knowledge. 
  • A number of CGIAR centers (IFPRI, ILRI, ICRAF, CIAT) have jointly developed and are implementing (together with IWMI, ICRISAT, WorldFish, AAS and PIM, and involving training local partners) a quantitative survey tool to assess research questions related to gender and climate change at the intra-household level in 3 regions. Results from this work will fill evidence gaps regarding CCAFS key gender research questions. Learn more: Get the study questionnaire and Manual
  • In partnership with the FAO, we developed a training guide on gender and climate change research in agriculture and food security for rural development. We are currently revising this manual as a flexible group of participatory research tools to support research and development partners in gathering information that will help them design inclusive and gender sensitive programs in climate resilient agriculture. 
  • By hosting annual meetings, a Google Resource Site, an open Gender Research LinkedIn Group and a LinkedIn Group for CGIAR gender scientists, we are working to strengthen the network of gender and climate change scientists in the CGIAR and link key gender actors from international organizations and the five CCAFS regions into the network.
Visit the gender page to learn more about this work

4.1.4.  Climate and agriculture strategies and policies

This research provides evidence on how building the capacity of change leaders from the five CCAFS regions catalyzes the influence of developing countries in international processes, leading to holistic approaches to agriculture and climate change in global strategies, policies and implementation mechanisms.

Outcome: By the end of 2015, we will have evidence showing that in rural communities socio-economic wellbeing is directly linked to land health. CCAFS and its partners are using this evidence to communicate to national decision-makers in each of the CCAFS regions the importance of healthy social and natural resources for carbon sequestration and achieving national contributions to the mitigation of climate change.  National and regional actors are influencing national and regional forums related to agriculture and rural development, food security and climate change, and have begun to participate in global policy processes.

  • We have supported several groups in developing approaches to exploring the linkages between socio-economic wellbeing and land health.  CIAT and ICRAF have developed innovative approaches to integrate land and socio-economic surveys, and are training partners in East Africa in these methods.
  • Starting in 2014 our focus will evolve from the co-development of socio-economic scenarios with regional actors to supporting the use of scenarios by decision makers for policy and institutional change at the national, regional and international levels.

Our ‘Linking Knowledge with Action’ strategies for achieving impact from the outputs of our research coincide with those of CCAFS:

Partnerships – We have designed our four areas of research in collaboration with our partners, and the majority of work in these areas is carried out by innovative organizations that we believe have the potential to accelerate our learning and impact.  We aim to target 10% of our annual budget directly to partners as seed funds in support of innovative ideas, so that our partners can experiment and become self-supporting.

Capacity strengthening – We emphasize the creation of tools that partners can use to increase their own understanding of climate change in the areas where they work, and design programs best suited to the needs and demands of end-users.  We offer training in these innovative tools, as well as areas such as participation and gender.  Our student training strategy allows graduate students in north-south partnerships to independently carry out work that contributes to our four research areas. 

Social learning – Climate change is a crisis not only because of its vast global impact, but because it is so difficult to do much about it.  It is complex, uncertain, ever evolving, and complicated by a multiplicity of stakeholders and perspectives.  It is not sufficient for experts to evaluate the issue and advise policy makers or affected people.  Social learning approaches help facilitate knowledge sharing, joint learning and co-creation of experiences in networks and systems.  We define ‘experts’ broadly, and put in place opportunities for the co-creation of knowledge with learning loops.

Gender and social differentiation – When communities increase the equity and participation of groups vulnerable to exclusion from the development process, particularly women, overall food security, poverty and health improve.  We support research on how to best increase the equity and participation of vulnerable groups in a changing climate so as to achieve widespread smallholder adaptation and mitigation.  Our mandate is to create information for action, and to test and report on the results of those actions. 

Communication – The science and practice of communication has evolved rapidly.  The focused has changed from the one-way flow of information to networks of co-learners. Meanwhile, rapid technological advances have provided new and innovative platforms for communicating climate change.  We are testing learning and communication platforms from climate smart villages and innovation fairs at the smallholder level, to mass communication television and radio that encourages farmers to get involved and ask questions.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M+E) – We have adopted a new way of monitoring and evaluating our progress.  In each of our four areas of research we have identified the changes in knowledge, attitude, skills and practice that we would like to foster in different actors by the end of 2015. We have written outcome stories based on these changes, and are monitoring our progress in terms of these narratives.  


Learn more about this theme on our blog:
- Can innovative communications approaches help farmers adapt to climate smart agriculture?
- Turning research into actions that matter