Third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development
5th - 8th April 2016 - Johannesburg, South Africa

Conference Framework

Purpose: The purpose of this document is to set out the rationale and approach for the programming and communication around the GCARD3 Global Event to be held in South Africa 5-8 April 2016.

Rationale: Since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, as has the proportion of undernourished people in the developing regions, for which agri-food research and innovation can take much credit. In the new agenda of Sustainable Development, it will continue to play a critical role in helping to create a world free from poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and environmental degradation.

This is reflected in both the new CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework and GFAR's new Vision and Mission, which explicitly link to and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable agricultural development entails focusing on the needs of resource-poor farmers – and their communities - and addressing the deficits of capacity and investment in national systems to meet those needs.

The commitment to 'leave no one behind' has been a key feature of discussions on the post- 2015 agenda and the SDGs. It means ensuring that every individual achieves those rights and opportunities described by the SDGs.

In the context of agri-food research and innovation this starts with ensuring farmers across the world – many of whom are women – participate equitably in the processes of research and innovation and that they benefit from the results. That requires interventions and investments that can turn research into impact and take it to scale, as well as system-wide monitoring and evaluation so we learn from our successes and mistakes. Rural youth are a group that are at risk of being left behind – agriculture and food systems, as an economic driver in developing countries, has enormous potential in providing employment, leading to sustainable livelihoods.

Purpose of the GCARD3 Global Event: GCARD1 (2010) resulted in the "Road Map for Change", a global strategy paving the way for more responsive and relevant agricultural research. GCARD2 (2012) focused on the partnerships, foresight and capacity development needed to deliver change, and resulted in the reform of the CGIAR.  Through national and regional consultation, GCARD3 (2015/16) has focused on re-aligning research needs and priorities with countries' own development needs and national processes and with the SDGs. The CGIAR's Strategic Results Framework is a direct outcome of this process.

The GCARD3 Global Event, 5-8 April 2016, is an opportunity for all stakeholders to come together to confirm our commitment to the new sustainable development agenda and to tackle some of the more topical issues emerging in agri-food research and innovation. The outcome will be a clear understanding of what is needed to achieve sustainable agricultural development in which "no one is left behind".

Overall Theme:  "No One Left Behind:  Agri-food Innovation and Research for a Sustainable World"

The program for the global event will be built upon five main themes, which pick up on many issues raised at national and regional GCARD3 meetings through the year:

  • Scaling up: from research to impact:  How do we achieve impact at scale? What investment is needed - resources, inputs and capacities? How do we integrate actions in particular locations/contexts and align different activities in the Innovation Webs?
  • Showcasing results and demonstrating impact: How can we better provide evidence and measures of impact and returns on investments that is critical to attracting investment into national and international research and innovation systems? This will directly impact on the capacity of agri-food research and innovation to support the SDGs.
  • Keeping science relevant and future-focused:   In today's fast-changing world, how do we ensure agricultural research keeps up with the new advances in science? What do we need to do to build the capacity of our systems and people? 
  • Sustaining the business of farming:  Farming– both small and large scale - is a business enterprise which needs to be both responsive to markets and environmentally sustainable. How can agri-food research and innovation partners across the spectrum of research, education, extension and business support each link in the value chain?
  • Ensuring better rural futures: Conflict, mass migration, and high levels of unemployment, particularly among youth, underline the urgent need to address the root causes of rural poverty. Agriculture, as a major economic driver in developing countries, can provide significant economic and employment opportunities, especially for rural youth, as well as for women, who make up a large percentage of the agricultural workforce. How do we ensure we leave no one behind?

Sessions will reflect upon the outcomes of the national and regional dialogues and examine how to connect to, and support, current agricultural research for development strategies (particularly the GCARD Road Map, CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework and Research Programs, African Agricultural Science Agenda, CAADP). The Investment Facility for Agricultural Innovation and Enterprise will also be discussed as a mechanism for more effective integration of better research and innovation investments, and the associated capacities required, into national development processes.


Outcomes will include clear requirements for national and regional agricultural innovation systems to be effective and accountable mechanisms for delivering development impacts in themselves, and how international agricultural research, more generally, can be an effective partner in contributing to national development outcomes.  We would also hope to be able to get agreement to launch the Investment Facility for Agricultural Innovation and Enterprise.

One tangible "deliverable" from the meeting could be a GCARD3 Pledge to Sustainable Development, outlining key actions/commitments /principles arising out of sessions /themes at the global event in support of collective action to deliver on the SDGs. Like the Road Map, it would provide a touchstone for partners across the public, private, and civil society sectors in developing their agri-food research and innovations programs and activities to 2030.

For more information about GCARD3, contact, or visit the GCARD website (also at CGIAR).

Agreed at the Constituent Assembly, August 2015