International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Global
Country or countries covered
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

The scale of IAASTD was global, but summaries for decision makers focus on major regions (North America and Europe; Central, West and North Africa; East and South Asia and the Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; and sub-Saharan Africa)

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

To assess the role of agricultural knowledge, science and technology in reducing hunger and poverty, improving rural livelihoods and facilitating equitable and environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development. It thus was expected to make a significant contribution to the Millennium Development Goals, but its targets were not clearly defined.

Mandate for the assessment

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

The conceptual framework of IAASTD was specified in section 1.2 of the global report. It recognized the great diversity in agricultural systems, which vary with climate, topography, soils, political factors, and social and cultural contexts. It put agricultural knowledge, science and technology at the centre, surrounded by actors, rules and norms, processes, and networks, all influenced by direct drivers (such as food demand and consumption, land use and climate change); indirect drivers (such as the biophysical environment and demographics); food systems and agricultural products and services; and development and sustainability goals (including environmental sustainability). This conceptual framework led to more attention being paid to the interests of small farmers, food security and the rural poor. The conceptual framework includes the importance of capacity development, generation of knowledge and technology, exchange of information and technology, further development of science and technology planning, and broad participation of all relevant parties in the development of science and technology policy.

System(s) assessed

  • Cultivated/Agricultural land

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Timber/fibres


  • Pollination

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Nutrient cycling

Cultural Services

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment

One off

Assessment outputs


Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Stakeholder involvement in IAASTD was broad, ranging from Greenpeace to Syngenta. This breadth of stakeholders led to active discussions and even fundamental disagreements. The global summary for decision makers concluded that “there are diverse and conflicting interpretations of past and current events, which need to be acknowledged and respected”. One member from the private sector (Syngenta) withdrew from the Bureau, contending that the debates had been taken over by extreme views from civil society. Governments also were far from unanimous in their support, underlining the difficulty in reaching consensus as the diversity of stakeholders increases. Civil society members from Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Action Network, on the other hand, may consider the report to be a much better reflection of the views of the small farmers whose interests they seek to represent.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process

Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

The data used by IAASTD came from FAO, CGIAR, Governments and scientific literature, with additional information from traditional knowledge. Governments and university researchers will probably continue to be the main suppliers of data on most aspects of agriculture, though the private sector is also a major investor; one example provided by the assessment was that Monsanto and Syngenta each spend some $800 million per year on agricultural research, compared to less than $500 million for the 15 CGIAR centres (see figure GSDM-5 in the global summary for decision makers); expenditures by Governments are not provided, but are likely to be substantially larger.

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Its policy impact is difficult to assess, because the reports were issued only in 2009. The IAASTD Secretariat expects that all stakeholders will use the documents produced in ways that they find useful. That the Governments of three leading agricultural producers (Australia, Canada and the United States) did not fully approve the global summary for decision makers, and other Governments entered reservations on individual passages in the executive summary of the synthesis report and in some regional summaries for decision makers, may weaken the policy impact of IAASTD.

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information