By Daniel Mason-D'Croz
This month marks 4 years since the revamping of the IMPACT training curriculum to bring it up to date with the new version of the model. With more than 4 years now of experience, it seems appropriate to review and highlight some of the successes of these outreach and training efforts. The current training program was originally designed to help train Global Futures and Strategic Foresight collaborators in the use of IMPACT and scenario analysis. Since its inception, however, it has also been a useful mechanism for sharing the modeling work done at IFPRI with a wider audience beyond just our collaborators within the CGIAR system. Over the last 4 years we have conducted 10 workshops in 8 countries, with workshop participants coming from a variety of universities, government agencies, and NGOs beyond the CGIAR.
Through these workshops we have built new links with researchers and policy informers, where we have introduced them to some of the research tools and methodologies that we use on a daily basis. This has increased awareness of these tools, and helped to increase their interest in the outputs of our research, as well as using these tools for furthering their own research. The first major outcome of our outreach came with work with Ada Ignaciuk of the OECD. This collaboration led to the publishing of an OECD report in 2014, as well as an article in EuroChoices. These successes have fostered greater levels of trust in our modeling methodologies and have led to further collaboration on work in the Philippines, and potentially on issues surround water, agriculture and climate change.
Following the IMPACT training in Colombia in February of 2014, we started collaborating with Marco Springmann of the Martin School at the University of Oxford. With Marco and his colleagues, we have now been able to develop a strong partnership where we can combine our partial equilibrium modeling with health modeling to consider the implications of changing diets on non-communicable diseases. This collaboration has already led to an article in The Lancet, published in March 2016. This has been a major high level output that would never have happened if not for the connections developed through the outreach done in our training workshops.
In January 2015, as a part of a larger project focused on Central Asia the IMPACT team led a training workshop at the University of Moscow. This training workshop helped build modeling capacity in the Central Asia country teams as a part of ongoing efforts to publish an IFPRI Research Monograph on Climate Change and Agriculture in Central Asia. In addition to training the Central Asia research teams, a team from the Eurasian Center for Food Security at Moscow State University also participated in the training. This team recently published Projections of Russia’s agricultural development under the conditions of climate change, a new article in Studies on Russian Economic Development, using IMPACT to consider projections of agricultural development under climate change conditions in Russia.
The work done in developing a training curriculum has also facilitated explaining the model in a many different outlets, with parts of the training materials incorporated in presentations introducing IMPACT. These have ranged from single workshops like recent presentations in Penang, Malaysia, and Lima, Peru, as well as in ongoing collaboration with other global economic modeling groups as a part of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP).
Global Futures and Strategic Foresight (GFSF) is a CGIAR initiative led by IFPRI and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM), and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).