2021 Highlights from the ACToday Columbia World Project

We are pleased to share the latest report from Adapting Agriculture to Climate Today, for Tomorrow (ACToday), the first of the Columbia World Projects. Since 2017, ACToday has been actively working in Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Senegal and Vietnam. In that time, we’ve not only worked to create innovative climate information, methods and tools tailored for agriculture, but we’ve also helped decision makers understand how to use these products to ensure safe and stable supplies of food.

Global challenges such as food security require the scientific community to stop working in silos and create meaningful partnerships outside academia. At the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), we’ve embodied this thinking as part of our mission since our founding 25 years ago. It is aligned with what Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger calls the “Fourth Purpose” of universities, using university research to advance human welfare. Achieving the Fourth Purpose is also a central part of the mission of the newly established Columbia Climate School, of which IRI is now a part, and at the core of Columbia World Projects’ work.

The work we’ve pioneered through four years of ACToday is taking hold on a global scale. Large development institutions such as the World Bank and World Food Programme are increasingly employing our approach as part of their climate and food security projects.

This comes directly out of our experiences and successes from ACToday and because of the strategic support we have received from Columbia World Projects. IRI is a now key partner in a new $60 million climate resilience project for agriculture in Africa, funded by the World Bank and led by CGIAR, one of our most important and strategic partners. We will be playing an important role in defining and developing climate services activities for the new project.

Our new report highlights some of the pathways we’ve created to ensure ACToday’s efforts and investments continue serving the health and well-being of the people in all six countries for many years to come.

Walter Baethgen

Project Lead of ACToday


The ACToday project could not have been possible without the leadership and expertise of Lisa Goddard, who served as IRI’s director from 2012-2020, and as a co-lead on ACToday. Lisa passed away in January of 2022.

Even though Lisa could not co-lead ACToday in its final year, every aspect of this project bears the mark of her intelligence, her dedication, and her passion to make sure that advances in climate science benefit the world’s most climate-vulnerable communities.