These are a number of frequently asked questions that partners and others have asked. Please have a look through and if you have other questions, clarifications or comments please let us know by writing in the comment section.
Current questions include:
- What are the global challenges facing agriculture and natural resource management?
- What are the challenges faced by CRP5?
- What is the link to development with the CRP?
- How can we claim realistically to achieve this from the research outcomes delivered by SRPs?
- What is the role of the SRPs?
- How will the centers get funding through the CRP?
- What are the higher priority activities? Who will decide this? Will it be the centers or will it be something that would be done by the SRP leaders and/the consortium?
- Do we write proposals?
- Will this go to a science committee for appraisal or a steering committee?
- What will go to the steering committee?
- How will our role as scientists within the CG evolve given the changes being brought on and requirements of the fund council?
- The evolution of the CRP is unclear, where do you see it heading?
- What is the geographic scope? Will each SRP have ‘focus’ areas on their own or together?
Q: What are the global challenges facing agriculture and natural resource management?
A: The challenges facing the world are how can agriculture support future global populations without damaging the vital ecosystem functions on which we all depend. Global population is expected to exceed 9 Billion by 2050. Evidence already exists of water and land scarcity. We also have evidence of people being pushed into poverty through scarcity, lack of access or lack of protection from hazards, and of widespread low eco-efficiency. Our challenge is to support balanced development that encourages sustainable intensification but also recognizes the complex interactions within river basins and landscapes.
Q: What are the challenges faced by CRP5?
A: The challenges facing the research program are to identify, organize and implement research that will enable large scale change on the ground with identifiable global scale impact. Our stated goal overall is to improve the livelihoods of nearly 300 million people in 10 river basins.
A: At the moment this link is not particularly clear in the proposal. The CRP must deliver major development outcomes to satisfy the demands of donors and the CGIAR. We target four types of development outcomes: reduced rural poverty; food security; improved nutrition and environmental security. Currently, it is not always clear how, exactly, this will occur at the scale required. SRP leaders are working with the CRP director to link the activities towards outcomes. This process needs to be reported in September to the Consortium Office.
Q: How can we claim realistically to achieve this from the research outcomes delivered by SRPs?
A: We have many research questions identified in the proposal but frankly, it is not always clear how these promise change at the scale required. This is why a new ‘business plan’ is required but I can predict that while some areas of excellence offered by partner centers will still be evident in a few years’ time [these will be our short-term 'wins'], we will need to new research to tackle some persistent and widespread problems such as land degradation, persistent low productivity and resource conflicts.
A: The primary role of SRPs is to maintain and improve the quality of research in the program. Each SRP leader is a respected leader in their field. SRP leaders will help scientists collaborate towards some extremely challenging science goals.
Q: How will the centers get funding through the CRP?
A: Currently, funding is based on historic allocations. In the future this must change, although the process has not yet been designed. What we can expect is that the funding will depend upon a number of factors such as proven delivery; relevance to development and science quality. A process is needed to objectively determine research priorities within regions and basins. This will start later in the year.
A: The SRP leaders will concentrate mainly on the science quality and be judged ultimately by the steering committee, who are independent experts selected for their expertise. In addition, outputs and deliverables will be monitored by the Monitoring and Evaluation team. This is currently being set up.
A: Currently quarterly payments are distributed from IWMI as the managing center with annual reviews.
A: One intention of the CRPs is that scientists are obliged to write fewer proposals, since they receive donor funds through W1/W2 without the need for proposals. However, this does not prevent individuals responding to calls. It would be sensible for scientists to use CRP5 to strengthen their research, through collaboration, new partnerships, improved targeting and communication to understand the needs for research. Our aim is to provide a platform for high quality, well-informed and collaborative research to meet the truly massive challenges facing donors.
A: At this stage, we anticipate this will be advisory and voluntary, but it would be smart for prospective proposers to use the SRPs to improve the scope and power of their proposals.
A: The SC is an independent body of world-class scientists who will ensure credibility, relevance and legitimacy of the science. Read page 190 of the proposal for more details
A: If the CRP works well, individual scientists can focus on their fields of excellence by working within multi-disciplinary teams that can collectively deliver clear research outcomes. The key will be team formation that brings complementarity together with formation of upstream and downstream partnerships to ensure major outcomes.
A: All CRPs are evolving and no two CRPs have the same operational plan. The CPWF had an inception phase of two years, CCAFS took about a year to clarify its operations. We must expect 3 to 6 months more of establishment. A major role of communication is to try and reduce the uncertainties during this process.
A major purpose of reform is to enable centers to collaborate towards the major development objectives required by the CGIAR. This is never an easy process and for us, with 14 partners, this process is especially important but challenging. One thing we can be sure of is that the global demand is obvious and increasing, and the rewards to successful research groups substantial.
A: Clearly, the current scope is that covered by existing activities. However, I expect this to evolve towards more clearly defined basin and regional priorities that will be identified by a series of annual reviews to be organized later in this year, and for each subsequent year. This is something not clarified in the proposal.
With the exception of the Information SRP, which needs to cover all areas, SRPs tend to emphasize their particular focus areas, defined by the research issues they address and the outcomes they deliver. However, there is substantial overlap. I expect at least two or three SRPs to contribute towards research outcomes within any one region.