Research to impact

CIFOR is committed to research for change – not simply for knowledge. Through an integrated planning, monitoring and learning strategy, our Research to Impact (RTI) team aims to ensure all research, engagement and capacity-strengthening efforts lead to tangible development impacts, particularly in relation to the CGIAR’s Strategic Results Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2019, the RTI team continued to help research teams ground their projects on strong theories of change and use monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems to test underlying hypotheses and generate data that support project management. The RTI team has designed and implemented M&E components of large projects such as FORETS, Governing Multifunctional Landscapes, and Sustainable Wildlife Management, to undertake a series of impact monitoring activities, generate learning and demonstrate results.

In addition, CIFOR has gained extensive knowledge on factors that influence and contribute to decision- making through a series of outcome evaluations across thematic programs and individual projects. This work has demonstrated that a combination of co-producing research, extensive engagement of knowledge users across the research cycle, and targeted communications with key decision makers is effective in achieving ownership and use of information in decision making. Similar evaluations are ongoing, using different approaches, to help understand further how research influences policies and practices – and why – in different contexts.

presence in 2019

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Forests in a
time of crises


In 2019, the world witnessed some of our greatest challenges shift gears from urgent to emergency – from climate crisis to landscape degradation to the wildfires that devastated ecosystems across several continents. But it also saw momentum build with the announcement of the UN Decade of Ecological Restoration, a focus on nature-based solutions, and the recognition of local forest communities and Indigenous Peoples are the best land managers for forest conservation.

Another exciting development – the merger of CIFOR and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) – set the stage for more evidence and solutions that will improve people’s lives, help to conserve and restore the ecosystems that support people and nature, and respond to the global climate crisis.

Our scientists advanced critical knowledge on forest landscape restoration, wild foods and timber legality in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and peatland fires, biofuel, oil palm and wetland ‘blue carbon’ in Indonesia – with clear policy impacts in Southeast Asia from 10 years of social forestry research and engagement. Our ongoing Global Comparative Studies – GCS REDD+ and GCS Tenure – continued to bring science to policy makers across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Gender researchers looked deep into a myriad of topics, and we mourned the loss of principal scientist and Nairobi hub leader Esther Mwangi, whose legacy of achievements in gender and land rights won’t be soon forgotten. Finally the Global Landscapes Forum brought even more people together, both at events from Accra to Luxembourg as well as through exciting new digital innovations.