Sustaining and improving the performance of agricultural systems is essential to support a growing global population in the face of a changing and variable climate. Data, computational methods and quantitative models are the foundation of the science underpinning sustainable agricultural systems. Founded in 2010 by a group of US and international agricultural modelers, the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Program (AgMIP) has grown to encompass a global community of scientists working to improve agricultural systems data and models and to advance their use to support decision making from farm to national to global scales. More recently, AgMIP has begun mobilizing climate, agriculture, economics and trade, health and nutrition, security, and humanitarian aid expertise to advance next-generation tools and decision support systems to address current and future challenges to food systems that deliver reliable and nutritious foods.
This charter provides the basis by which the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Program operates and establishes standards and protocols for agricultural and food systems modeling. This includes ways to initiate new activities and develop regional partnerships. The goal is to incorporate key drivers affecting food security so as to improve coordinated global and regional assessments. AgMIP also addresses the requirements for innovative agricultural models of the future – including improved simulation of agricultural systems and adaptations important to sustainable food systems in both developed and developing regions.
The mission of AgMIP is to significantly improve agricultural models and scientific and technological capabilities for assessing the sustainability of agricultural systems, including impacts of climate variability and change and other driving forces on agriculture, food security, and poverty at local to global scales. To enable this mission, the goal is to create a next-generation knowledge platform for agricultural modeling worldwide.
Specific AgMIP objectives are to:
- Incorporate state-of-the-art climate, crop, and agricultural economic model improvements into coordinated regional and global assessments of current and future climate impacts.
- Perform multi-model integrated regional and global assessments of technology and policy options for increasing food security and adapting to current and future climate risks.
- Utilize multiple models, scenarios, locations, crops and participants to explore uncertainty in climate and agricultural productivity and the effects of data and methodological choices.
- Collaborate with regional experts in agronomy, soils, animal sciences, economics, and climate to build a strong basis for applied simulations addressing key climate-related questions.
- Improve the scientific and adaptive capacity in the major agricultural regions in the developing and developed world.
- Improve agricultural models based on their intercomparison and evaluation using high-quality regional and global datasets and best scientific practices, and document improvements for use in integrated assessments.
- Develop frameworks to identify and evaluate promising adaptation technologies and policies and to prioritize strategies.
- Develop frameworks to analyze, characterize, and address key challenges in related areas as prioritized by AgMIP stakeholders and researchers.
To achieve its objectives, AgMIP links strongly to major on-going efforts with public and private partners.
Overview of AgMIP
Central to all AgMIP activities are models of agricultural systems, including crops, livestock, and economics. The activities include intercomparison of multiple agricultural models; evaluation and model improvement; development of improved methodologies for integrated assessments of impacts and adaptation, including in response to stakeholder needs and perspectives; and, the performance of integrated assessments at local to regional to global scales.
The AgMIP community collaborates in the comparison and improvement of agricultural models and develops ways in which they can be used to evaluate likely changes in crop production and economic conditions under current and future climate, farming, and societal conditions. Analyses of the agricultural impacts of climate variability and climate change, and of adaptation options require a trans-disciplinary, stakeholder inclusive effort to consistently link decision contexts withstate-of-the-art climate scenarios and agricultural systems models.
AgMIP accomplishes its mission through collaborative scientific research and coordinated assessments, with outcomes including peer-reviewed publications, reports to policymakers, interdisciplinary training on multi-model approaches, web-based information and tools, and regional and global workshops and conferences. One of AgMIP’s aims is to provide a state-of-the-art knowledge platform – a truly global public good – to project future food security under changing climatic, technological, and societal conditions and to develop, test and report effective adaptation strategies in both developing and developed countries.
The community-driven approach has resulted in unprecedented gains by scientists in the advancement of agricultural systems modeling and access to effective methodologies for anticipating likely future scenarios of food availability. AgMIP is dedicated to enabling scientists in vulnerable regions, especially in the developing countries, to participate in the research processes by which such gains are made.
AgMIP is an international partnership program, initiated with support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and implemented collaboratively with a suite of insightful and committed donors, national and regional partner programs, and members.
AgMIP’s Role in Ensuring Future Food Security
Agriculture is one of the important sectors most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This is due both to direct impacts on agricultural productivity and to indirect impacts such as changes in water availability, pests and diseases, and land use. Climate change is projected to reduce global agricultural production, shift nutritional characteristics of key staple crops, and increase its annual variation, leading to an intensification of the risks of hunger and malnutrition. The 4th Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed that many of these impacts are likely to be felt severely in developing countries, where even a slight warming is projected to decrease yields in seasonally dry and low-latitude regions (IPCC, 2007).
This has significant implications for both food security and economic growth in many developing countries, where the majority of the poor are projected to continue to live in rural areas until 2040. Most depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, directly or indirectly. Rural farming communities are directly dependent on weather conditions for cultivation, so their capacity to manage climate-related risks is a high priority. There is an expanding evidence base underpinning the need for strengthened climate risk management and climate resilience in the face of increasing impacts of climate variability on the economic performance and livelihoods of the poor. Climate pressures will lead to shifts in patterns of farm household behavior in response to shocks. Families can find themselves introducing changes in diet preferences and facing more malnutrition and exposure to infectious diseases. These impacts of climate change are not solely projected to affect developing countries; climate change will impact agricultural regions in Europe, North America, South America, and Australia, as well.
Disruptions in major-producing countries will have an impact on world food supplies because of the international trade in agricultural production and could lead to broader food insecurity and conflicts that can have global implications. Negative impacts on agriculture in these areas are also likely to lead to impacts on economic growth and poverty reduction. Recent empirical evidence suggests that compared to growth in other sectors, growth in the agricultural sector generates welfare gains that are much stronger for the poorest parts of the population. Cross-country econometric work reported in the 2008 World Development Report shows that a 1% gain in GDP originating in agriculture generates a 6% increase in overall growth for the poorest 10% of the population. GDP growth originating in non-agricultural sectors generates zero growth for the poorest 10% of the population.
AgMIP is centrally positioned in the critical area of providing innovative analyses utilizing dynamic agricultural models in the context of key decision frameworks of stakeholders, enable developing and developed country researchers and stakeholders improved understanding of the impacts of climate variability and change on their agriculture sectors, to identify appropriate adaptation options to test, and to inform investment decisions. The use of a suite of agricultural models embedded in a state-of-the-art technological system enables identification of probable impacts and interactions regionally and globally, strategic adaptation planning, and evaluation of technology investments. Significantly improved agricultural models also offer the means for testing the interactive implications of different adaptation and mitigation responses and for prioritizing critical areas for new research.
AgMIP Structure and Governance
As a global research program, AgMIP operates as an alliance among donors and partners. Donors provide financial support for contractually agreed-upon outputs and outcomes. National and regional partners are autonomous programs, operating at country or regional scales that contribute in specific ways to AgMIP initiatives, as defined by Agreement. AgMIP is flexible in its rendering of Agreements, with Inter-Governmental Agreement (e.g. MOUs) established with AgMIP Executive Committee (ExCom) Institutions in the US Government (e.g., USDA, NASA) ; Institutional Agreement with an AgMIP ExCom Institution or Letter Agreement with the ExCom members themselves. Agreements are maintained at the signing institution and/or at the Office of AgMIP International Coordination.
AgMIP also includes individual members who are interested in engaging in AgMIP activities and abide by the AgMIP Standards of Conduct. Individuals belonging to an AgMIP partner program, established by Agreement, are automatically recognized as individual members of AgMIP who agree to abide by the AgMIP Standards of Conduct.
AgMIP’s Steering Council guides the organization, ensures its scientific integrity through review processes and exercise of budgetary expertise, establishes policies that apply throughout the broader organization, and facilitates a high level of cooperation across the entire organization. To ensure a balance of scientific perspectives, the Steering Council is composed of donors, partners, and members, with at least 50% of the council comprised by representatives of AgMIP partners and members. The AgMIP Steering Council will develop and maintain a set of Bylaws that define its activities for guiding AgMIP and ensuring that it adheres to agreed Standards of Conduct.
Terms of reference for the selection and responsibilities for AgMIP ExCom Members Members have been developed by the Steering Council, in conjunction with the AgMIP Coordination Unit. Criteria for selection of AgMIP Leaders include expertise, experience, suitability for advancing the mission, and the support of their institutions in serving in this capacity, with additional criteria at the discretion of the Steering Council. Current institutions supporting AgMIP Leaders include the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), NASA-GISS/Columbia University, Oregon State University, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), University of Florida, and USDA-ARS. Additional leadership roles are defined as needed to carry out AgMIP objectives.
“Modeling for, and by, the people!”*
With support from the UK Department for International Development, AgMIP investigators from over 20 countries, with the majority from South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, developed (2012-2017) a new method called Regional Integrated Assessment (RIA). The method provides scientifically rigorous information for projecting the future benefit of specific climate-related adaptations. Models exploration is tuned to stakeholder priorities to improve agricultural systems decision-making at local to national scales. The iterative integrated multi-model experiments use climate, crop, livestock, socioeconomic, and scenario information and models, with key parameters and results viewable in the new AgMIP Impacts Explorer.
In response to the 2017 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) request for research on the implications of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5°C and 2.0°C above pre-industrial conditions, AgMIP developed novel methods for Coordinated Global and Regional Assessments (CGRA; Rosenzweig et al., 2018) of agriculture and food security. The CGRA protocols for the 1.5°C – 2.0°C assessment brings yet another new AgMIP method that establish explicit and testable linkages across disciplines, models and scales in order to track the complex chain of climate impacts and identify key vulnera-bilities, feedbacks and uncertainties in managing future risk.
*J. Antle quote, 2018.
AgMIP donors are entities that wish to further the evolving mission, goals, and activities of AgMIP and who agree with the principles and practices that AgMIP observes (e.g., AgMIP Standards of Conduct, see also below). Donors may be governmental or non-governmental organizations, foundations, companies, private individuals, and so forth. Donors may award funds in support of AgMIP through the offices of the Executive Committee Members, the Columbia University-based Office for International and Science Coordination (Coordination Unit), other AgMIP Leader institutions, or the AgMIP partners.
AgMIP’s partners are research programs, each having its own leaders and management structure and each being responsible for its activities, work products, and finances; e.g., they may be research organizations in individual countries or in groups of countries. AgMIP partners may establish committees or task forces to focus on particular scientific topics of interest to their members. They may also be asked to serve on AgMIP teams that set practice (e.g., for AgMIP publications, outreach, etc. to comply with AgMIP Standards of Conduct). All AgMIP partners agree to contribute to, and to comply with, policies established by the AgMIP Steering Council in exchange for Agreements that allow them to use the AgMIP name and receive other benefits from AgMIP, both tangible (e.g., acknowledgement of partnership status and institutional link on the AgMIP website; access to, dedicated collaboration pages) and intangible (e.g., access to AgMIP’s international network, association with the AgMIP, which is respected in the scientific community). AgMIP-Global and its Agreement-designated Partners will periodically undertake coordinated country, regional and global assessments based on mutually agreed-upon protocols.
AgMIP recognizes the importance of cooperation with other global and regional projects and initiatives that are currently in existence or that may be formed in the future. AgMIP policy is to seek partnerships with those entities that would be in the best interest of the AgMIP community of science. The goal is to minimize any real or perceived duplication of effort, and maximize outputs targeted by AgMIP, including agricultural model improvement efforts, initiatives for advancing scientific methods for development, evaluation, and application of agricultural models and assessment methodologies. A key AgMIP activity is the performance of multi-model integrated regional and global assessments of climate change impacts and assessment of technology and policy options for increasing food security and adapting to climate risks. AgMIP partners may also be private-sector organizations. Agreements will be established as needed to facilitate the partnerships.
AgMIP Standards of Conduct
The goal of the AgMIP Standards of Conduct is to ensure that AgMIP leaders, members, partners, and users of AgMIP’s scientific results are aware of the ethical principles guiding the organization’s structure and its adherence to rigorous, peer‐reviewed scientific investigation and evidence‐based outputs. The Standards are comprised of Principles that are maintained and updated by the Steering Council, in conjunction with the Office of International Coordination. The Standards of Conduct will be maintained at the AgMIP web site www.agmip.org.
The following principles provide a framework to guide ethical decision-making for AgMIP and to all of its partners and members.
Principle 1. Scientific Integrity
AgMIP projects and activities must have a primary public-good purpose. AgMIP endorses the use and development of open-source models, data and methods.
All AgMIP supported and endorsed research shall be conducted to meet the highest scientific standards as well as all applicable legal standards.
All AgMIP research shall be verifiable and reproducible by independent researchers with access to AgMIP models, methods, and databases.
All AgMIP research shall be conducted objectively and transparently so that the structure of the research is presented factually and without bias.
AgMIP activities for improving, evaluating, and applying agricultural models should strive to use the highest-quality data, scientific methods, and research practices.
AgMIP advocates peer-reviewed publication of all research results, regardless of outcome.
Protocols for internal review will be developed to confirm research findings and ensure the quality of AgMIP research.
Members and partners are encouraged to share and confirm research findings with other AgMIP members and partners as part of the collaborative research process.
AgMIP members and partners support academic and scientific freedom.
All members must include language in their AgMIP-associated publications attribution of AgMIP as well as the sponsor who has provided support to the activity being reported. PDF copy of AgMIP-associated publications should be directed to the AgMIP Coordination Unit at Columbia University.
All AgMIP publications and reports must recognize and fully and accurately attribute all contributions of data, models, and intellectual inputs of individual and Partner members.
No person may be listed as an author on an AgMIP publication or report without permission; conversely, no major contributor may be left off the authorship of an AgMIP publication unless they request it.
AgMIP will be transparent in the disclosure of its funding sources.
Principle 2. Conflict/Declaration of Interest/Bias
AgMIP believes that inclusion of a balance of perspectives is the most appropriate way to ensure that the impact of any potential conflict of interest or bias is minimized and does not exert an undue influence on the scientific process. Thus, AgMIP operates with transparency, conducts activities objectively, and is accountable to all stakeholders.
AgMIP trustees must declare any potential bias or interest, including but not restricted to financial interests, and may be asked to excuse themselves from decisions that might be construed as conflicts of interest.
With respect to publications, grant reviews, and expert panels, AgMIP expects the scientists with whom it works to declare any potential conflicts of financial interest. AgMIP may ask scientists to excuse themselves from an activity based on such a declaration.
Scientists who are contributing to AgMIP activities are expected to act in accordance with their own institution’s conflict of interest policies and with applicable laws, as well as to comply with the conflict of interest policies of any journal or organization with which they may work.
Principle 3. Advocacy
Advocacy of any kind by AgMIP is strictly limited to promotion of the use of the best science and methods for development, evaluation, and application of agricultural models.
Principle 4. Transparency in Meetings and Publications
The purpose of and funding sources for all AgMIP-sponsored meetings, symposia, conferences, seminars and workshops will be fully disclosed in meeting materials.
All invited presenters will provide declarations of financial interest to be disclosed if relevant at the time of meetings (orally or in the meeting materials).
All AgMIP publications must reflect the high standards of the organization. AgMIP‐sponsored manuscripts must undergo stringent peer‐review by qualified reviewers. Scientists are expected to recuse themselves as editors or reviewers of manuscripts if past or present connections with the author(s) preclude an objective evaluation of the work.
All AgMIP publications, including proceedings from workshops or symposia sponsored by AgMIP Partnersor international committees will utilize appropriate attribution language to denote funding sources and sponsors.
Principle 5. Participation in AgMIP Activities
AgMIP activities must be open to participation of researchers from AgMIP partner members who have the capability and expressed wish to contribute to the projects and who agree to conform to the principles described in this standard of conduct, funding permitted.
AgMIP methods and activities should facilitate trans-disciplinary integration and collaboration.
AgMIP meetings, workshops, and conferences are open to all interested researchers, space and funding permitting.
Principal 6. Resilient but Flexible AgMIP Structure
AgMIP will endeavor to retain a structure that increases recognition of its expertise and authority through the use of necessary legal instruments or agreements while retaining the greatest possible flexibility in receipt and use of funds to enable research planning, execution, and assessment involving its world-wide community of scientists, practitioners, leaders, and planners.