Annual Snapshot

CGIAR’s Independent Advisory and Evaluation Service (IAES) provides operational support as the secretariat for the Independent Science for Development Council (ISDC) and the Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA), and implements CGIAR’s multi-year, independent evaluation plan as approved by the System Council. The IAES and the two independent bodies it supports, facilitate and provide external, impartial, and expert advice related to strategy and positioning, program evaluation, and impact assessment.

Standing Panel on Impact Assessment
Independent Science for Development Council

Summary statement


The 2023 efforts of ISDC, SPIA, and IAES/Evaluation Function, underpinned by IAES operational support, reflect a productive year providing independent advising and evaluative and impact evidence in CGIAR's research and innovation landscape. These entities’ dedication to inclusivity, knowledge sharing, and effective governance helps to position them for continued success in the coming years.

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The Independent Science for Development Council (ISDC) experienced a dynamic year in 2023, in which it positioned itself to contribute significantly to CGIAR’s portfolio evolution in 2024 and delivered key commissioned research on megatrends.

ISDC coordinated with CGIAR leadership, anticipating a moderated review of proposals under Portfolio25 in 2024. The Council rendered a comparative advantage (CA) analysis technical note into podcasts and videos as a means to enhance understanding of the CA concept. ISDC also conducted a Megatrends project that yielded a discussion paper outlining nine implications crucial for the evolution of CGIAR’s research and innovation portfolio. Additionally, ISDC hosted a science forum during the 19th System Council meeting, focusing on megatrends impacting gender equality, youth, and social inclusion. ISDC also published a Perspective piece in Sustainable Agriculture [a Nature publication] that explored some of the interlinked concepts it has used in advising CGIAR.

ISDC 2023 Highlights

The Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) secured approval for a new plan extending through 2030 while successfully navigating the penultimate year of the 2019-2024 workplan, focusing on country reach and causal evidence studies.

SPIA progressed as planned with its 2019-2024 workplan, while also securing approval for a new operational model and the 2023-2030 workplan. The panel organized webinars and published guidelines on remote sensing for impact assessment to strengthen the method’s base for the SPIA approach. SPIA made significant strides in collecting diffusion data in Bangladesh and Vietnam and published a report on the adoption of improved rice cultivars and sustainable practices. The panel expects to publish reports from country studies in Ethiopia and Uganda in 2024. In 2023, study teams completed three accountability studies and two learning studies commissioned by SPIA.

SPIA 2023 Highlights

IAES’s Evaluation Function completed the full cycle of System Council-commissioned program and platform evaluations for the period 2016-2021.

The Evaluation Function work continued, focusing on operationalizing the CGIAR Evaluation Framework and Policy, with an increasingly dedicated emphasis on knowledge management. Evaluative engagements addressed assurance and ‘evaluability,’ such as the Performance and Results Management System (PRMS) advisory engagement. Platform evaluations for GENDER and Genebanks concluded, providing transitional and forward-looking recommendations for the ongoing CGIAR portfolio revision. Efforts toward inclusivity and capacity sharing were highlighted by the translation of key documents into Spanish and the convening of an IAES and ISDC Spanish-language knowledge-sharing event. Process evaluation included an advisory activity in partnership with Internal Audit on CGIAR’s PRMS.


Online Engagements

In an increasingly digital world, IAES, ISDC and SPIA are reaching many stakeholders through social media. Compared to 2022, there was a 60% rise in website views and publication downloads, and 50% rise in social media followers. Our newsletter provides real time reporting on our work.

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Our Network Around the World

We strive to bring diversity – be it diversity of thought, discipline, national origin or identity, gender – to our expert teams and networks. Inclusivity and participation are topics that run deep through the workstreams of ISDC, SPIA and IAES/Evaluation Function. This map summarizes the global breadth of the people we work with most closely. In 2023, we worked with 54% men and 46% women.

Countries represented