The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) is a global research-for-development program connecting partners to deliver agriculture solutions that sustain our natural resources – and the people who rely on them.
WLE brings together 11 CGIAR centers, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the RUAF Foundation, and numerous national, regional and international partners to find integrated and sustainable solutions.
WLE is developing a growing portfolio of policy and technical solutions across ecosystems, sectors and scales. These connect and consider key natural resources: land, water, biodiversity; and how to manage these to ensure we connect rural-urban environments, deliver gender equity and manage risks and trade-offs. Capacity building cuts across many of our tools and approaches.
WLE, which is now in its second Phase (2017–2022), supports innovations that enhance the social and environmental sustainability of agri-food systems and lead to the development of solutions that meet the needs of research users and the environment. Learn more here.
The program’s four main research themes are designed to work on specific topics that were selected for their ability to help make agriculture more equitable and sustainable. In addition, the Enhancing Sustainability across Agricultural Systems theme pools and synthesizes evidence on sustainability from WLE and other CGIAR research programs in order to deliver knowledge and evidence to support large-scale development decisions and investments on commodities.
WLE uses the following mechanisms to bring about change:
- Evidence-base knowledge to make the case for, and identify what works for, sustainable intensification of agriculture
- Integrated solutions to better manage risk related to shocks and stresses
- Models and scenarios to understand trade-offs and synergies
- Institutional innovations that include new policies and arrangements to share benefits
Gender, Youth and Inclusivity
WLE cannot achieve its vision of more sustainable intensification of agriculture if women, youth, and other marginalized groups have unequal access to resources, information, and decision-making, or are not empowered to make use of this access if it exists. As such, the program ensures that its research-based solutions address issues related to equitable access to resources and decision-making surrounding natural resource management and agriculture. It does so through its core theme on Gender, Youth and Inclusivity, which looks at social, financial and institutional mechanisms to address the needs of women and youth through research.
Engagement and partnership
WLE recognizes the inherent complexity involved in sustainably managing agro-ecological landscapes. As such, the program takes a research-for-development (R4D) approach in which the entire research process serves as the basis for strategic engagement with the decision makers who use our research. Engagement strategies emphasize co-design principles in order to ensure that these next-users are involved in defining the problem, setting priorities, and designing and implementing solutions.
A defining characteristic of WLE’s partnership approach, at all stages of the impact pathway, is that partnerships are often multi-institutional and cross-sectoral. The strength of the program lies in its ability to combine the resources of eleven CGIAR centres, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the RUAF Foundation with a wide network of research and uptake partners around the world. WLE has more than 400 partners ranging from national and regional research partners, international finance institutions, government agencies, global and regional multilateral organization, NGOs, private sector, farmer groups and communities.
A key program in the CGIAR Research Portfolio
WLE is one of four cross-cutting Global Integrating Programs (GIP) framed to work closely with the eight Agri-Food Systems (AFS) CGIAR Research Programs within relevant agri-ecological systems. It does so to ensure that research results deliver solutions at the national level that can be scaled up and out to other countries and regions.
Our work complements research on specific commodities and their value chains by focusing on landscape wide solutions and innovations. Our aim in taking this landscape approach is to strengthen the sustainable use of agricultural ecosystems and the institutions that manage them for better natural resource management practices.
The program’s results-based management (RBM) strategy responds to the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) for 2016-30. It provides the conceptual underpinnings and operational approaches that guide how decisions will be made within the program based on a clear intent to achieve specific results, including how the program will learn and adapt to retain its relevance and focus.
Our evaluative work will focus on four elements of RBM:
- clarity of the results – specificity of the relevance and measurement
- incentive mechanisms to achieve results
- data and evidence generation through monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment
- using adaptive management principles to understand how the circumstances have changed, and how the program can improve