Sustainable development: A review of monitoring initiatives in agriculture

(from DFID website)

A new report has just been released on the Review of the Evidence on Indicators, Metrics and Monitoring Systems. Led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) under the auspices of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystem (WLE), the review examined monitoring initiatives related to the sustainable intensification of agriculture. Designed to inform future DFID research investments, the review assessed both biophysical and socioeconomic related monitoring efforts.

With the aim of generating insights to improve such systems, the report focuses upon key questions facing stakeholders today:

  1. How to evaluate alternative research and development strategies in terms of their potential impact on productivity, environmental services and welfare goals, including trade-offs among these goals?
  2. How to cost-effectively measure and monitor actual effectiveness of interventions and general progress towards achieving sustainable development objectives?

An over-riding lesson, outlined in the report, was the surprising lack of evidence for the impact of monitoring initiatives on decision-making and management. Thus, there are important opportunities for increasing the returns on these investments by better integrating monitoring systems with development decision processes and thereby increasing impacts on development outcomes. The report outlines a set of recommendations for good practice in monitoring initiatives…

DFID welcomes the publication of this review. The complexity of the challenges which face decision makers aiming to enhance global food security is such that evidence (i.e. metrics) of what is working and what is not is essential. This review highlights an apparent disconnection between what is measured and what is required by decision-makers. It also identifies opportunities for a way forward. Progress will require global co-operation to ensure that relevant data are collected and made easily accessible.

DFID is currently working with G8 colleagues on the planning for an international conference on Open Data to be held in Washington DC from 28th to 30th April 2013. The topline goal for the initiative is to obtain commitment and action from nations and relevant stakeholders to promote policies and invest in projects that open access to publicly funded global agriculturally relevant data streams, making such data readily accessible to users in Africa and world-wide, and ultimately supporting a sustainable increase in food security in developed and developing countries. Examples of the innovative use of data which is already easily available will be presented, as well as more in-depth talks and discussion on data availability, demand for data from Africa and on technical issues. Data in this context ranges from the level of the genome through the level of yields on farm to data on global food systems.


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