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close this bookNews & Views - A 2020 vision for food, agriculture, and the environment - September 1999: Pushing back Poverty in India. (IFPRI, 1999, 10 p.)
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Paarlberg Assesses Impact of 2020 Initiative

IFPRI's 2020 Vision initiative has led to new thinking, and in some cases new action, among members of its target audiences, according to a report assessing the impact of the initiative. This independent assessment, prepared by Robert Paarlberg, professor of political science at Wellesley College, shows that 2020 materials and activities have influenced discussions in the development research community and had a noticeably positive effect on resource commitments by the international donor community.

Since its inception in 1993, the 2020 Vision initiative has sought to refocus attention and stimulate debate on critical world food issues through meetings, publications, and the new developing-country networks. In 1998 IFPRI commissioned Paarlberg to assess whether the initiative actually made any difference in how decisionmakers and researchers think and act in regard to development and food issues. Paarlberg's report, delivered in spring 1999, found that the 2020 Vision initiative has had the greatest impact on international researchers and educators to date. "Many of the materials distributed have been extended, through duplication, citation, or classroom use, to an even wider circle of potentially influential individuals," says Paarlberg.

The initiative has also had great success getting its materials into the hands of international policy leaders. IFPRI's IMPACT model, which forecasts demand, supply, and trade of food to the year 2020, has become part of the policy debate among donors and nongovernmental organizations. The 2020 Vision initiative has also been relatively successful in bringing skeptics and nonspecialists in these groups into a discussion of rural poverty and agricultural development. In some cases, the 2020 Vision initiative has helped to reverse the decrease in donors' bilateral support to agriculture.

Although policy leaders in developing countries were not the target audience for Phase I of the initiative (1993-96), 2020 materials did reach a significant number of developing-country leaders and at times entered the policy debate within countries. Stimulating action in support of the 2020 Vision by developing-country governments is the main goal of the second phase of the initiative. "I have confidence in Phase II of the initiative in part because it's so nicely tailored to fill the one gap I see remaining from Phase I," says Paarlberg.

"This report tells us that the message of the 2020 Vision initiative is reaching many important players in the international development community," says Rajul Pandya-Lorch, head of the initiative. "It also spells out the challenge we must meet in Phase II, as we pursue the 2020 Vision at the country level and seek to turn the vision into a reality."