Last week I attended a workshop in Rome on “Communications for research and development impact: delivering the CGIAR Results framework”, hosted by the Consortium Office.

The objective was to develop suggestions for ensuring that communications and knowledge sharing are included in the final guidelines of CGIAR research proposals (see guidelines for pre-proposals) for a new phase of programs to start in 2017. This is important because the programs are big, and if we do not get communications into the guidelines, the proposal writing teams will most probably not address the issue strategically, nor budget accordingly.

The organizers Alain Vidal, Director of strategic partnerships at the Consortium Office and Nadia Manning-Thomas, senior partnership advisor, invited a diverse and small group of participants from several CRPs and Centers, encompassing colleagues with background in communications, knowledge management (KM) and / or partnership, which allowed us to include a wide range of views. The fact that we know and trust each other helped us building quickly on an existing body of knowledge and efforts to achieve the objectives smoothly: Influence the use of communications and knowledge sharing in CGIAR programs.

The workshop report summarizes: The group agreed that a common conceptual framework is required in order to clearly situate communications and knowledge sharing in the wider CGIAR results-based agenda for achieving research outcomes and development impact. It was agreed that they are more likely to be achieved with an effective communications framework that enables on the one hand effective communication about CGIAR research achievements and results to ensure transparency and accountability to partner, stakeholder and donors, while on the other hand searching proactive engagement of beneficiaries, partners, and stakeholders in the research development process for outscaling and upscaling results.

The group developed a conceptual framework along six domains (see below) in order to provide theoretical clarity on the multifaceted role of communications in the wider research agenda for development outcomes and impact. These six domains will be further elaborated to provide practical guidance on how results-oriented communications can be integrated in the research process and ensure delivery, uptake and adoption of research.

I am writing this blog post for 2 reasons:

1) I want to express my appreciation for the opportunity to elevate knowledge sharing again in CGIAR. For several years now -as CGIAR’s focus on KM switched exclusively to data and information– a group of enthusiastic professionals that had started to work on knowledge management since 2004, but more from a people perspective, had become homeless. Fortunately, a dynamic group of CRP communicators created their own community of practice on KM and communications for CGIAR Research Programs KM4CRPs to fill the gap.

2) On the results of our workshop, I wonder if we were able, with the suggested domains of communications and knowledge sharing, to give a comprehensive framework. As we share the results with our colleagues we will incorporate their feedback. If “somebody” wants to comment here, it would be great to hear from you!

Suggested communications and knowledge sharing domains:

  1. Communicating with and for actors on the ground to scale out technologies and practices
  2. Communicating and engaging policy dialogue to scale up results
  3. Communicating about the programme, the science and results throughout the CRP lifecycle
  4. Communicating and engaging for effective partnerships
  5. Learning and sharing to improve collaboration among scientists within and across CRPs
  6. Making CRP information and resources open and accessible

The workshop was attended by Paul Stapleton (ICRAF), Michael Victor (WLE), Ewen Leborgne (ILRI), Alain Vidal (CO), Nadia Manning-Thomas (CO), Bill Downing (WorldFish), Genevieve Renard (CIMMYT), Vanessa Meadu (CCAFS), Simone Staiger-Rivas (CIAT), Jenin Assaf (IEA), Tana Lala Pritchard (Dryland Systems).

Tonya Schuetz was the facilitator.

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