Pathway to impact: Supporting and evaluating enabling environments for research for development

The chapter presents a research for development program’s shift from a Logframe Approach to an outcome and results-based management oriented Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) system. The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is designing an impact pathway-based MEL system that combines classic indicators of process in research with innovative indicators of change. We have developed a methodology for evaluating with our stakeholders factors that enable or inhibit progress towards behavioral outcomes in our sites and regions. Our impact pathways represent our best understanding of how engagement can bridge the gap between research outputs and outcomes in development. Our strategies for enabling change include a strong emphasis on partnerships, social learning, gender mainstreaming, capacity building, innovative communication and MEL that focuses on progress towards outcomes. It presents the approach to theory of change, impact pathways and results-based management monitoring, evaluation and learning system. Our results highlight the importance of engaging users of our research in the development of Impact Pathways and continuously throughout the life of the program. Partnerships with diverse actors such as the private sector and policy makers is key to achieving change, like the attention to factors such as social learning, capacity building, networking and institutional change when generating evidence on climate smart technologies and practices. We conclude with insights on how the theory of change process in CGIAR can be used to achieve impacts that balance the drive to generate new knowledge in agricultural research with the priorities and urgency of the users and beneficiaries of these research results. Evaluating the contribution of agricultural research to development has always been a challenge. Research alone does not lead to impact, but research does generate knowledgewhich actors, including developmentpartners, can put into use togenerate development outcomes. In CCAFS we are finding that a theory of change approach to research program design, implementation and evaluation is helping us bridge the gap between knowledge generation and development outcomes.
Book chapter

Published on



  • Schuetz, Tonya
  • Förch, Wiebke
  • Thorton, Philip K.
  • Vasileiou, Ioannis


Springer International Publishing


Schuetz T, Förch W, Thornton P, Vasileiou I. 2017. Pathway to impact: Supporting and evaluating enabling environments for research for development. In Evaluating climate change action for sustainable development. Uitto JI, Puri J, van den Berg RD (Eds.). Chapter 4. Pp. 53-79. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.