External Impact Assessment of IFPRI's 2020 Vision For Food, Agriculture, And The Environment Initiative

The 2020 Vision initiative of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) was launched late in 1993, at a time of growing global complacency regarding international food security questions. The first phase of the 2020 Vision initiative (1993–96) featured the development of an innovative forward-looking partial equilibrium model of the international food and agriculture sector; the hosting of an extensive series of high profile conferences, workshops, and regional meetings; the publication and distribution of numerous substantive discussion papers, policy briefs, and regional synthesis papers; and the regular publication of a topical newsletter. The goal was to refocus attention on current and future challenges in areas such as food security, agricultural development, rural poverty, and environmental protection; to catalyze a new consensus on these issues within the international policy community; and to encourage policy leaders—both in the donor community and in the developing world—to commit more energy and resources to resolve food security concerns. The present report is an independent effort, commissioned by IFPRI, to measure the actual impact, to date, of this ongoing 2020 Vision initiative. The impacts examined include impacts on three different audiences: researchers and educators, international policy leaders, and developing-country policy leaders. For each of these audiences, an assessment is given as to whether the 2020 Vision initiative significantly “reached” the audience in question with its materials and messages; whether 2020 had an impact on the policy thinking of this audience; and whether 2020 actually catalyzed any new policy actions by this audience. These were difficult assessments to make, since the audiences were large, diverse, and physically dispersed, and since the thinking and behavior of these audiences has recently been influenced by so many activities in addition to 2020. The information needed to make these difficult assessments was gathered from records kept by IFPRI of 2020 conference attendees and activities, from various surveys of conference participants, from solicited personal testimony by IFPRI staff and individuals involved in 2020 activities, from materials published by other organizations working in the food security and agricultural development area, and from materials gathered from donors, international organizations, and the nongovernmental organization (NGO) community. To summarize the findings of this report, the impact of the 2020 Vision Initiative has varied audience by audience and activity by activity. These impacts are rated in descending order as either highly significant, significant, noticeable, or not noticeable. 1. Within the first community of international researchers and educators (this is IFPRI’s traditional audience), 2020 has had a HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT impact. 2020 has successfully reached this first audience with numerous 2020 materials, and many of those materials have been extended—through subsequent duplication, citation, or classroom use—to an even wider circle of potentially influential individuals. 2. Within a second community of international policy leaders, the 2020 Vision initiative has had several kinds of impact: - 2020’s success in reaching this second community has been HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT, in the sense that numerous 2020 materials were consumed by the most important members of this second audience group, and many in this group were direct participants in 2020 Vision activities. - 2020’s success in catalyzing a consensus within this second community is assessed as SIGNIFICANT. IFPRI’s IMPACT model projections and other materials have become a visible part of the policy debate for most in this second audience, and for some (especially in the donor and NGO communities) a highly visible part of their thinking. The 2020 Vision initiative was also relatively successful in bringing skeptics and nonspecialists from this second audience into a discussion of rural poverty and agricultural development issues. - 2020’s success in catalyzing new policy actions by this second community was assessed as NOTICEABLE. Here, the most important goal was to reverse the mood of complacency among international donors, and reverse the fall in financial resources committed by donors to agricultural research and to agricultural and rural development. Aggregate levels of multilateral and bilateral donor support to agriculture continued to fall during the first four years of the 2020 Vision initiative, but this fall was eventually halted in 1997–98, and in some cases it was noticeably reversed, and in some of these cases the 2020 Vision initiative played a noticeable role in this reversal. 3. A third audience, policy leaders within the developing world, was not the primary target audience of the first phase (1993–96) of the 2020 Vision initiative. Still, some impacts were noted here: - 2020’s success in reaching this third audience with materials was surprisingly SIGNIFICANT. A number of influential developing-country leaders did consume 2020 materials and did participate in 2020 Vision activities. - 2020’s success in catalyzing a new consensus within this third audience was uneven but in some cases NOTICEABLE. Regional 2020 Vision statements were developed, refined, and discussed among developing country policy leaders in Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, and other 2020 materials did at times enter the policy debate inside some developing countries, strengthening the hand of advocates for agriculture. - 2020’s success in catalyzing new policy actions among developing country governments was assessed, so far, as NOT NOTICEABLE. In some cases developing-country governments took policy actions of the kind that 2020 might favor, yet establishing a direct causal link to the 2020 Vision initiative in these cases proved difficult. Catalyzing action in the developing world was not, however, the primary goal of 2020 in its first phase. Catalyzing policy actions within developing countries is precisely where a new second phase of the 2020 Vision initiative will concentrate its energies. The distinctive feature of this Phase II of 2020 is the creation of “subregional networks” (initially, in East and West Africa) where African policy leaders and technocrats will engage in country level 2020 visioning efforts. At the first substantive meetings of these subregional networks, late in 1998, African researchers and government officials developed country-level strategy papers suitable not only for building a stronger internal policy consensus, but also for guiding donors in search of fundable projects in the food and agricultural sectors. In summary, from the vantage point of early 1999, the impacts of the 2020 Vision initiative already emerge as substantial. At times these impacts have been significant or even highly significant, and in most other instances they have at least been noticeable. These significant impacts have also been highly cost-effective, as indicated by the tiny share of IFPRI’s budget outlays (just 5 percent annually) devoted to its 2020 Vision initiative. Within the international donor community, the 2020 Vision initiative has in several instances had a noticeable positive effect on actual resource commitment decisions. Governments in the developing world were a secondary focus during much of the first phase of 2020, yet even here significant impacts were felt on policy debate. The goal of the second phase of 2020 will be to produce significant impacts on policy action inside developing-country governments as well.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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