CGIAR: Now Officially Open Access

CGIAR – the global research partnership for a food-secure future ( – has long been known as a leader in agricultural research for development (AR4D); but not necessarily considered a leader in easy, free, and open access to its research results and data.  But this has changed.  With a process that started in April 2012 with the approval of the “CGIAR Principles on the Management of Intellectual Assets”, which requires that “the [CGIAR] Consortium . . . promptly and broadly disseminate their research results”, and culminated late last month in the unanimous approval of the CGIAR Open Access and Data Management Policy, the CGIAR Consortium is now officially Open Access.

Of course, this is a process that will take some time to fully implement, but many CGIAR Consortium Member Centers are already providing free and open access to research outputs.  For some examples, see:

The new Open Access policy, mandatory across the Consortium following its approval, calls for a timeline that would have all CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) compliant with the policy within 3 years, and all Centers compliant within 5 years.

CGIAR produces a veritable goldmine of critical research data, information and knowledge, and has decades of research outputs that it could contribute to the AR4D sector.  Our goal is to make that data, information, and knowledge more accessible to the world, to increase the pace of innovation and impact of the research enterprise.  This is, obviously, easier said than done, which is why the implementation process will focus as much on institutional culture change and incentives as it will open, interoperable standards and platforms.  We will work closely with partners, including the new Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN)  initiative ( being spearheaded by DFID and USDA, as well as FAO, a recognized leader in data standards for agricultural research.

To support implementation of the Policy, the CGIAR Consortium is in the process of developing comprehensive Implementation Guidelines.  A first draft version of the Guidelines was posted in October on our website, and a second version will be posted for public consultation in December.

For more information about CGIAR’s Open Access efforts, as well as to track progress, please see

World Development Information Day: Making Development Information Available to All

In 1972 The United Nations General Assembly established October 24 as World Development Information Day “to draw the attention of world public opinion to development problems and the need to strengthen international cooperation to solve them”.  Today, one could argue that Development Information is widespread; there is plenty of awareness about the plight of less developed countries, and a good deal of international cooperation to address them.  Now the focus has shifted – quite rightly – to how best to collaboratively address these problems.  For me, there’s another interpretation as well, which is that of making information for development more readily available, so that better, more effective and efficient decisions can be made to address the development “problems” on which this day was originally intended to shed light upon. 


It is a truism that there is more information available today, to more people, in more places than has ever been available in the history of our planet.  This information base grows daily.  The challenge for many of us dedicated to addressing development challenges is less about the amount of information and more about getting the right information, and ensuring that such information is accessible to all.  So for me it is about equal access to information.  Which is why I find it pleasantly coincidental that this week is also Open Access Awareness Week (


Open Access is one of the core pillars of our work at the CGIAR Consortium, the group of 15 of the world’s leading agricultural research Centers conducting research to improve the lives, lands, and livelihoods of the world’s poorest people.  The CGIAR Consortium Board recently approved the Consortium’s Open Access Policy, and a first round of draft Implementation Guidelines are under widespread review.  Both documents can be found at


So let’s celebrate the fact that Development Information is widespread, but let’s also not rest until we can assure that access to information to help address development challenges is openly accessible to all.