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 Call for concept notes: IFAD-CCAFS Learning Alliance
Source: CCAFS
The IFAD-CCAFS Learning Alliance is calling for concept notes with the focus on economic valuation of climate risks and adaptation responses in agricultural development projects.
Closing date: 10 November 2014, 08h00 CET.
Rationale for the call
Climate change is a risk multiplier for farmers and food systems. Trends in climatic means and increasing climatic variability both multiply risks. The recent IPCC report makes clear that increasing climate variability and uncertainty will have serious impacts on food availability and farming systems in coming decades. Investments in agricultural development in countries that are highly vulnerable to climate change need to evaluate climate risks as effectively as possible to deliver real benefits to poor rural people. 
But the current reality in planning of agricultural development projects tends to be a deficit of economic valuation of climate risks and response options. Problems include insufficient data, uncertainties about climate and other trends, and difficulties in measuring and prioritising among trade-offs among different outcomes for different stakeholders.  The deficit in economic evaluation limits the effectiveness of development programming and discourages private sector investment because risks cannot be evaluated.
Climate risk evaluation and associated decision-making will never be perfect, but application of practical, evidence-based economic approaches will do much to improve public sector and private sector investment and hence outcomes for farmers and food.
Research purpose
The intention of this call is to create and utilise new knowledge on the economic value of climate risks and responses to agriculture in real cases. The selected research consortium will be expected to:
1) Deliver innovative scientific knowledge products on climate change that are relevant to development programming and investment (Outcome 1,70%)
2) Knowledge products and results are actively cited in key policy forums at global and national levels (Outcome 2,15%)
3) National research institutions and researchers have raised capacities and profiles on climate change research for development (Outcome 3,15%)
Research approach
Research consortia are invited to deliver the outcomes and outputs listed below while bringing their own research approach and scientific paradigm to the topic. Research consortia are welcome to propose additional outputs and activities. Note that the primary purpose of the work is to improve the knowledge base of decision-makers and practitioners in agricultural development, i.e. to deliver applied research rather than conceptual research.  Therefore the research approach is expected to apply established or nascent economic tools to current data sets and case studies (from IFAD ASAP cases, but also additional sources wherever valuable), rather than to propose new tools for others to apply.
The proposed research approach might usefully include the following:
  • Delivering economic information in formats that can be utilised directly by public sector and private sector investors, and working directly with these partners to improve the relevance of the research products
  • Going beyond cost-benefit analyses that identify single best-bets for agricultural development to multi-metric evaluations that consider risk and uncertainty dimensions (including data inadequacies)
  • Undertaking assessment of trade-offs for key groups of stakeholders and beneficiaries (e.g. by gender or livelihood) – note that in general all work funded under CCAFS is expected to have at least 15% of the budget allocated to activities that address gender and social inequalities
  • Situating climate risks and adaptation options within overall agricultural development pathways (whether at national or local levels), with consideration of outcomes for food security and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions among other relevant factors
Expected outputs and outcomes
The format for the concept notes is structured according to the expected deliverables, as outlined below. The research consortium will be expected to deliver an annual narrative and financial report at the end of December 2015 and a project completion report in the final quarter of 2016, demonstrating performance on outputs and outcomes.
Outcome 1 Scientific knowledge products are widely accessed (70%)
Key outputs:
(a) A global report that provides economic valuation of climate change risks and adaptation options in multiple countries, covering but not necessarily limited to ASAP cases (b) Country-level summaries aimed at national policy-makers (c) A guidance document on methods, assumptions, country contexts and lessons
Outcome 2 Policy engagement: Knowledge products and results are actively cited in key policy forums at global and national levels (15%)
Key outputs:
(a) Dissemination of knowledge products via IFAD, CCAFS and research partner communication channels including social media (b) Targeting of specific results into key policy processes (e.g. poverty reduction strategies, national adaptation plans and agricultural policies, private sector strategies, standards and investment protocols) (c) Publication of key results in scientific journals to provide a robust basis for citation in IPCC and UNFCCC
Outcome 3 Capacity enhancement: Partner national research institutions have raised capacities and profiles on climate change research for development (15%)
Key outputs:
(a) Support to national research partners to develop and deliver policy engagement strategies (b) Facilitation of appropriate south-south cooperation between ASAP countries, to exchange relevant knowledge on climate change responses (c) Inclusion of PhD students, including nominees from IFAD, on research projects to strengthen long-term research capacity and research-practice linkages
Focal countries
The work is intended to produce international public goods with global relevance and wide applicability across low-income and middle-income countries. The successful research consortium will be asked to include cases from all or some of the countries where IFAD’s ASAP programme is implemented, with a focus on the countries where implementation is most advanced: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Chad, Djibouti, Ghana, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda and Vietnam. All fieldwork will take place at sites where IFAD’s ASAP programme is implemented.
The IFAD-CCAFS Learning Alliance
IFAD and CCAFS have developed a Learning Alliance by which CGIAR and partners’ science can contribute to better practice in agricultural development under climate change, including in IFAD’s Adaptation in Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) and associated investments.  IFAD and CCAFS will co-fund research consortia, competitively selected, to investigate questions of scientific interest directly linked to ASAP priorities.
IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations, established as an international financial institution in 1977, dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. IFAD focuses on country-specific solutions, which can involve increasing poor rural people's access to financial services, markets, technology, land and other natural resources, to enable them to improve their food security and nutrition, raise their incomes and strengthen their resilience.
The Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), launched by IFAD in 2012, channels climate finance to smallholder farmers so they can access the information tools and technologies that help build their resilience to climate change. ASAP has become the largest global financing source dedicated to supporting the adaptation of poor smallholder farmers to climate change. The programme is working in more than thirty developing countries, using climate finance to make rural development programmes more climate-resilient.
CCAFS, led by CIAT, is a multi-agency research programme under CGIAR in strategic partnership with Future Earth. The purpose of CCAFS is to address the challenge of ensuring food and rural livelihood security in the face of a variable and changing climate. CGIAR, established in 1971, is a global research partnership of 15 scientific research centres and their partner organisations, which together generate and disseminate knowledge, technologies and policies for agricultural development through thematic research programmes such as CCAFS. CGIAR has a strong track record of delivering research that improves the outcomes and cost-effectiveness of agricultural development for poor rural people.
Available information on ASAP investments and CCAFS research
Given that data availability is a major impediment to valuation of climate risks and adaptation responses, research consortia are encouraged to identify and use diverse data sources. In each country where IFAD’s ASAP programme is implemented, IFAD has commissioned a set of project design documents, which can be made available at the appropriate point during the project cycle. These include climate risk assessments, which evaluate both climate risks and institutional capacities, varying in their scope and level of quantitative analysis depending on factors such as data availability and pre-defined agricultural investment priorities. The types of adaptation intervention funded via ASAP can be viewed at
CCAFS research outputs can be accessed at the CCAFS website
Timeline and funding
Concept notes should propose work that delivers all outputs between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2016, with a total budget request of up to USD 500 thousand dollars.  No overhead may be included in the budget.
Submission process
This call is released on 7 October 2014.  Concept notes should use the template at this link and should be submitted by 08h00 CET on 10 November 2014 to  The final decision will be announced on 30 November 2014.  Work is expected to begin in January 2015.
Eligibility of research consortia
The call is open to any consortium of organisations and individuals with demonstrable capacity for research and engagement in the economic valuation of agricultural development and climate change adaptation. Any organisation may submit a concept note, but all concept notes should include more than one partner organisation. At least one partner that contributes significantly to the research should be a national research partner from a low-income or middle-income country.
Evaluation criteria and process
Concept notes will be evaluated on the following criteria:
1. Research innovation: clear plans for generating new science in user-friendly outputs
2. Track-record: demonstrable capacity in delivery of high-quality policy-relevant research in the specified topic
3. Policy engagement: a clear strategy for demand-side analysis of policy-maker and practitioner priorities at national level and for engagement with named policy processes and stakeholders as the project unfolds; active presence in countries where the ASAP programme is implemented, and ability to work directly with government/IFAD teams as needed
4. Forward links from outputs to outcomes: linked to the above, a plausible strategy for deploying outputs to achieve outcomes (changes in behaviour among next users)
5. Capacity enhancement: inclusion of national research organisations from low-income or middle-income countries, particularly in the focal countries of the project, and a clear strategy for building the skills and profile of national research organisations and PhD researchers (including a small number of PhD students that may come via IFAD)
6. Demand-driven outputs: commitment to responding to demand from next-users to improve the utility and uptake of the research
7. Participatory methods: use of participatory research approaches, particularly where fieldwork is conducted at IFAD sites among rural beneficiaries
8. Gender and social inequalities: a clear strategy for addressing social inequality, including by gender, within the research, policy engagement and capacity enhancement components of the project
9. Monitoring and evaluation: quantification of contributions, with provision of evidence, to outcomes and indicators agreed with CCAFS
Concept notes will be excluded from the evaluation if they do not conform to the basic topic, format, requirements, timeline or budget given in this call.  One to three concept notes will be selected.  Successful project teams will be asked to develop the concept note further, in collaboration with IFAD and CCAFS, including changes such as the partners involved or budgets.
Photo credit: Oxfam International