Portfolio planning and impact evaluation helps us refine our priorities and learn lessons from current and past projects, as well as enabling accountability to our Minister, the Australian Government and the Australian public.
An important aspect of our work lies in strategically planning for, and measuring, the impact of our investments. Our Portfolio Planning and Impact Evaluation team is responsible for the ongoing development of organisation-wide performance frameworks and the evaluation of our investments in the medium and long term. The team engages with emerging thinking on the design of effective research-for-development portfolios and invests in developing methods to appropriately monitor and assess the contribution of our investment to development outcomes.
The program continued the established process of evaluation of ACIAR investments through a combination of medium-term adoption studies and longer-term impact assessments.
Impact evaluations conducted throughout the year include:
- Mahogany and teak furniture: action research to improve value chain efficiency and enhance livelihoods (FST/2007/119)
- Improving reproductive performance of cows and performance of fattening cattle in low input systems of Indonesia and northern Australia (LPS/2008/038)
- Developing multiscale adaptation strategies for farming communities in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Bangladesh and India (LWR/2008/019)
- Increased productivity and reduced risk in pig production and market chains (AH/2010/019)
Impact assessments looking at the longer-term economic and social impact of ACIAR-supported research:
- Landcare in the Philippines
- Sandalwood in Vanuatu
- Conservation tillage for dryland cropping in Australia and China.
Cumulative value of ACIAR investments
ACIAR has been systematically undertaking independent impact assessment studies of its portfolio of research activities for more than 30 years. During 2019–20, we assessed the economic returns from 169 research-for-development projects.
The estimated median benefit-to-cost ratio across the projects studied shows that $17.40 is returned for every $1 spent. The total benefit from ACIAR research project investments is estimated to be $104.7 billion in today’s dollars. Of this:
- $98 billion has been realised for developing country partners
- $5.3 billion has been realised in Australia.
The benefits directly attributable to ACIAR funding more than covers not only our total expenditure across these projects, but also our total investment since our inception (approximately $3.28 billion).