Innovative research, policy assessments, and policy recommendations are vital to the development of sound policies, and to have their intended effects, they must be communicated to the right people in the right ways. Thus, policy communications are a part of IFPRI’s mandate and a key to its continued success.
In 2011, food price volatility—driven primarily by increased biofuel production, increased speculation, and climate change—was a major international concern, and a multifaceted IFPRI communications campaign contributed greatly to the discussion. In addition to measuring country-specific hunger levels, the 2011 Global Hunger Index, which won a Mercury Communications Award, offered policy recommendations on ways to tame food price spikes by revising biofuel policies, balancing export market structures, and building up food reserves. Policy seminars, webpages, and knowledge products also addressed food price volatility, and the Food Security Portal, which provides detailed data and news on food policy developments within individual countries, was revamped in 2011.
The first issue of Insights, IFPRI’s new quarterly magazine, was published in print and online to great acclaim. Articles covered a range of food policy topics, including the repercussions of food export bans, the promise of agricultural nanotechnologies, and the need for better irrigation techniques. The magazine also featured numerous infographics, which were new to IFPRI’s communications efforts in 2011.
IFPRI’s work in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) grew substantially in 2011, due in part to the uprisings in the Arab world and the urgent need to ensure food security for the most vulnerable people in a time of crisis. A new MENA research section was created on the IFPRI website to highlight work in that region. A series of publications on Yemen’s food security strategy and a policy brief on the economics behind the Arab Awakening were released in English and Arabic.