Since the launch of CGIAR’s 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy (CGIAR Strategy) in 2021, the trajectory, frequency, and pace of known trends and cycles have changed, and the world has experienced an increasing array and severity of global shocks. As CGIAR prepares its 2025–2027 research and innovation portfolio, this is an appropriate time to examine the effects of these changes. Accordingly, the Independent Science for Development Council (ISDC) commissioned a 2023 project to answer the following questions:

  • What megatrend dynamics have changed since the CGIAR Strategy was prepared?

  • How do these changes affect the CGIAR Strategy and its collective global targets? What are some prime examples of these effects?

  • Based on new insights into megatrend dynamics, how should CGIAR respond?

This Discussion Paper synthesizes the most recent literature on megatrends affecting agri-food systems. Through the lens of the CGIAR Strategy, it singles out nine megatrends, which have heightened interactions and feedback loops among them. In many countries, challenges are increasingly exacerbated by an acute failure of good governance. A few examples highlight the disproportionate impact of the confluence of these megatrends in achieving measurable benefits across the five CGIAR Impact Areas. A set of specific implications for the evolution of the CGIAR research and innovation portfolio concludes this Discussion Paper. They are multidimensional and address portfolio substance and processes. Ample annexes expand the evidence basis for the Discussion Paper. ISDC will incorporate the findings of this commissioned project into tools and rubrics used in ISDC-moderated proposal reviews.


Independent Science for Development Council. (2023). Responding to evolving megatrends. Rome: CGIAR Independent Advisory and Evaluation Service.


Independent Science for Development Council (ISDC)