Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog

Improved natural resource management for livelihoods, food security and the natural environment


Mark Lynas

“Franken-brinjal” or a new deal for poor Asian farmers?

Any day now, a hundred Bangladeshi smallholder farmers will be planting their annual aubergine crop. But this year this select band will not be planting their usual seeds of the crop; these family farmers, chosen by the country’s agricultural researchers, will be growing a genetically modified (GM) variety.

Credit: Bioversity International/R.Vernooy

Co-management: overcoming the tragedy of the commons

Mongolian herders are maintaining the centuries old practice of moving from season to season to find new grasslands for their livestock, the primary source of their nomadic livelihood. Right now it is time to move to their winter camps and enter the most critical period of the year – the months of extremely cold weather.

Focus group discussions in Madogashe, Kenya, where stakeholders are engaged in sharing their opinion regarding the pipeline project.
Photo: Sarah Ogalleh/CETRAD

Do you trust your gut instinct?

For big decisions, like buying a car, we may do a bit of research; but most of the time, we simply follow our gut feeling as a guide. But do we want those who make decisions on some of the biggest issues in development to also follow their gut instinct? Decision analysis tools can improve the decision making process.

reinventing workshop

Reinventing the workshop

Imagine a workshop where people come together with the stated aim of producing documents to carry forward a body of work ten years in the making. We suggest there are a number of essential ingredients in this currently unorthodox format.

The Basin Challenge Game in action at the IUCN Nexus workshop in Istanbul. Photo: James Dalton

Gaming to negotiate tricky resource management

Most people have played some kind of game in their lifetime. Be it cards, monopoly, or Farmville, this unique form of entertainment allows us to escape reality and spend time focusing on inconsequential goals. But a new realistic game provides a platform for engaging in difficult conversation about cooperative water and land management.

Photo: Julien Gong Min

Can a “bad” dam come good?

Big dams have been taking a something of a pounding in recent weeks. A recent article in the New York Times by Scudder, an expert on dams and poverty alleviation, concluded that such behemoths were rarely worth the cost.


Wicked problems: Then and now

What are “wicked problems”, why are they wicked and what does it take to do something about them? These are central issues in our new book, “Water Scarcity, Livelihoods and Food Security: Research and Innovation for Development”, which is based on experiences of the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food.

Fuel subsidies in Nigeria create a huge black market.  Photo: Willem Heebaart

Cold turkey for the subsidy junkies?

No country in the world runs its economy without subsidies. Even avowedly free market states, like the US, are awash with financial fillips for everything from agriculture to green energy. Just how effective these cash comforters are at delivering public goods, however, is hugely debateable.

Women using a public water tap in Dhap, Nepal where the community manages the local irrigation system. Photo: Tom van Cakengerghe/IWMI

Who is accountable?

Multiple use water services takes domestic and non-domestic water needs as a starting point for the planning and provision of water services, holding the water sector accountable for all uses.