Georgina Smith/CIAT

Estimating investment in innovation for sustainable agriculture intensification 

What does the global agricultural innovation investment landscape look like? How are investments shaping this landscape? A study published by WLE’s Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (CoSAI) provides a global baseline for investments in agricultural innovation, looking at who is investing and how funds are being invested, including how much of this funding aims to promote the multiple economic, environmental, and social objectives of sustainable agricultural intensification (SAI). SAI is interpreted broadly to mean the transformative changes needed in agricultural systems to meet the SDGs and climate goals of the Paris Agreement, including social and human objectives as well as environmental objectives. Carried out by Dalberg Advisors (India) on behalf of CoSAI, the report produces global estimates for funding over the past 10 years (2010-2019) in research and innovation for agricultural systems in the Global South.

The baseline study found that roughly USD 60bn is being invested annually into innovation in the Global South. Alarmingly, only seven percent of this investment explicitly contains environmental objectives, and of this seven percent, only half includes social or equity objectives. This needs to change. CoSAI is recommending a rebalancing of the innovation investment portfolio to ensure that investments in innovation are addressing not only economic objectives but the broader outcomes able to be achieved through SAI.

The study further finds that majority of investments (roughly 85 percent) are being funded by the public and private sectors. This raises a clear point, if innovation is going to be transformative in future food systems, governments and the private sector must continue to invest, in partnership with other stakeholders, whilst reorienting their investments across the multiple benefits through SAI. Further, development partners must continue playing their catalytic role by leading innovative investments and highlighting the potential of this innovation.

Going beyond the global outlook, CoSAI is building on the global investment baseline to look at various case studies. The case studies show examples of agricultural investments in innovation in different contexts.

For more information, read the full report and policy brief or visit the CoSAI evidence page.