The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) recently posted a short exposure article, Giant Clams and Unexpected Impacts, based on their investments and on-going projects dating back to the 1980s. The article outlined some of the long-term implications of ACIAR’s research investments in giant clams in the Indo-Pacific, including intended and substantial long-term benefits related to conservation. It also acknowledged the unintended benefits, reflecting that “(the) best learning often comes from unanticipated results”.
In 2017, Sustineo did an impact assessment on ACIAR’s investment in giant clams in the Indo-Pacific, investigating the intended and unexpected benefits, success factors, and lessons for future research.
The article notes that Sustineo’s impact assessment “unpick(s) the complexities of the projects and identif(ies) lessons that could improve the research system”. The assessment confirmed that ACIAR’s investments resulted in long-term knowledge exchange, increased conservation efforts, and increased economic development opportunities for partner countries. In addition, ACIAR supported capacity development of local research and the creation new insight and knowledge of giant clam biology and culture techniques.
More broadly, the assessment highlighted the importance of understanding the social, political and economic contexts within which research for development takes place, and the value of understanding relationships and knowledge networks in assessing impact.