Humidtropics Community

Capacity to Innovate: the Essence of Sustainability and Resilience

(Valerie Poire) #1

Originally published at:
Capacity to Innovate Web

Integrated systems are complex wholes in which a range of social and biophysical processes interact across various levels and scales. Reorienting the dynamics of systems in favor of realizing desirable outcomes—for example, intermediate development outcomes—is essentially about changing the way people interact with each other and respond to their changing environment. This requires capabilities at the level of individuals, communities, organizations and networks, and those that have a mandate to catalyse and support innovation processes in society; e.g. international nongovernmental organisations, CGIAR and funding agencies.

The essence of sustainability and resilience lies in the capacity of system actors to innovate and adapt. Communities whose livelihoods come at least partly from agriculture and natural resource management are in the midst of a rapidly changing world. This context requires continuous adaptation of technology, as well as of social and institutional arrangements, such as values, incentive systems, formal and informal rules, market organization, land-tenure systems, and policies. When actors at different levels in agricultural research and development—ranging from resource-poor women farmers to international agricultural research and development policymakers—can better interact, they can bring their different perspectives and insights into the process of understanding the dynamics of the system and exploring how to deal with them. This makes them better able to react quickly, flexibly and creatively to shocks, challenges and opportunities. Thus, the capacity to innovate is key for resilience—that is, for the survival and well-being of society.

The three system CGIAR Research Programs on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics, Dryland Systems and Aquatic Agricultural Systems have included “Capacity to Innovate” as an Intermediate Development Outcome in their respective theories of change. Authored by Cees Leeuwis (WUR), Marc Schut (IITA/WUR), Ann Waters-Bayer (ETC Foundation/Prolinnova), Remco Mur (KIT), Kwesi Atta-Krah (Humidtropics), and Boru Douthwaite (WorldFish), this concept note captures their collective thinking about this Intermediate Development Outcome from a systems perspective to clarify it and inspire other programs.

Download the concept note here:

Blog by Marc Schut, Social Scientist, IITA/WUR, and Valérie Poiré, Communication Officer, Humidtropics.