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CGIAR’s Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security

Actions to Transform Food Systems Under Climate Change Report

Graphicacy designed and laid out a print report and accompanying infographics and visualizations for a CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) report on how to transform food systems to avert a food and climate crisis.


Through the report, CCAFS and a panel of global experts in food security, food systems, agriculture and climate change identify high-priority actions that we must collectively take now to create sustainable, inclusive, healthy and climate-resilient food systems by 2030.

The Graphicacy team was presented with the challenge of making the report–and the important data and content within it–easily digestible for readers through the use of data visualization in the form of charts, graphs and infographics that elevate the key elements of the report. We were also responsible for the overall design of the print report, with the goal of making the design of the report consistent and harmonious.

We started working with CCAFS when the report was in the drafting stage. At that time, the graphics in the report were a mix of new diagrams concepted by the authors, and charts or maps cited from other sources. All had to be recreated to bring them in line with the visual style and color palette we established for the report. 

For the new diagrams and flowcharts concepted by the authors, we worked collaboratively to offer improvements on visual structure, language, and design to ensure the core narrative came through clearly. 

For example, one of the report’s central concepts is “Different pathways for different types of farmers.” In other words, the path to a more sustainable, climate friendly farm looks different depending on the characteristics of the farm in question; environmental, socio-cultural, and economic considerations must be taken into account. We redesigned this diagram to make sure that narrative came through clearly:

 

A flowchart explaining the content of "Different pathways for different types of farmers", before design improvements

 

AFTER:

A flowchart explaining the content of "Different pathways for different types of farmers", after design improvements by Graphicacy

We also redesigned charts and graphs that were cited from previously published sources. For these charts, we tried to maintain the structure of the original chart forms, while making design improvements for the sake of clarity. For example, the authors wanted to pair these two charts to show the environmental impact of food production on both freshwater use and greenhouse gas emissions.

 

A line chart showing falling groundwater levels in Gujarat, and a chart showing rising methane, before design improvements

 

AFTER:

A line chart showing falling groundwater levels in Gujarat, and a chart showing rising methane, after design improvements

For the first chart, which shows falling groundwater levels in Gujarat, India, we offered a number of improvements. First we kept the Average line as a line, then converted the Minimum and Maximum to an area chart, so the chart reads more easily as displaying a single data set, with uncertainty, rather than three different data sets. We then changed the use of color to emphasize the zero line on the Y axis, and reinforce the story that groundwater has fallen to critical levels in recent years.

The clarity of the second chart was also improved, by moving the labels to the right side of the chart, and coloring in just the areas related to agricultural production. This creates a stronger connection between the chart title and the chart content; they mutually reinforce each other.

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