The greatest challenge to our food production systems in the coming forty years will be to feed a growing population while addressing critical threats to the environment. Producing more food will only be possible if ecosystems are protected. Functioning, healthy ecosystems provide a wide range of services—including water for irrigation and drinking, nutrients for soils, regulation of pests and diseases and many more that farmers and industries depend on. If such services are not considered and protected, efforts to increase agricultural productivity will fail.
The Integrating Ecosystem Solutions into Policy and Investments research theme encompasses two initiatives: the Innovation Fund and the program’s work in four regions. Communicating the importance of ecosystem services and demonstrating solutions that can support agricultural intensification while protecting the environment will be essential to alleviate poverty and achieve food security for millions of farmers.
The innovation fund supports research that identifies new, effective ways for researchers to engage with public, private and non-profit actors to help them improve investment decisions on water, land and ecosystems. Three projects are currently underway as part of the fund:
- A generic ABM framework for complex ecosystem service analyses in WLE focal regions
- Finding common ground: bringing together ecosystem services, agricultural productivity and smallholder livelihoods in landscape planning
- Targeting agricultural innovation and ecosystem service management in the northern Volta basin
The theme’s work at the regional scale responded to a call for more demand-driven and locally led initiatives in support of agricultural intensification. At the regional level, researchers partnered with local actors to build skills and influence investment decisions in support of more equitable management of natural resources. The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems had four regional programs: