Statement by the Chair of the CGIAR Consortium Board at the 40th Anniversary of CGIAR in Rome

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Speech delivered by Chairman of the CGIAR Consortium Board at the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of CGIAR, at the FAO in Rome. 2 December …

Speech delivered by Chairman of the CGIAR Consortium Board at the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of CGIAR, at the FAO in Rome. 2 December 2011

Since the CGIAR’s establishment in 1971, its expanding agenda of research has led to important gains in agricultural productivity as well as natural resource management and food policy across the developing world.

This remarkable 40-year performance provides a firm foundation for a forceful response to the daunting challenges that agriculture and rural environments will face over the next 40 years.

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  • 1. Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers Statement by the Chair of the CGIAR Consortium Board at the 40th Anniversary of CGIAR in Rome December 2, 2011As Chairman of the CGIAR Consortium Board, I am very pleased to participate in this 40th anniversarycelebration of our institution. I would like to thank FAO, and in particular my good friend JacquesDiouf, for hosting this event and for his very kind and inspiring opening remarks.Forty years have passed since the early days of the CGIAR, as shown in the video that we have justseen. Pioneers, like Norman Borlaug, Robert McNamara, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, set atremendous example in addressing the challenges of the time. The Green Revolution preventedwidespread famine in South and Southeast Asia during the 1970s and 80s. It also contributed toenabling millions of rural poor to escape poverty and hunger in many other regions of thedeveloping world.Today, we are celebrating 40 years of significant achievements, of success stories in vast areas ofresearch that have played a major role in agricultural development in general and world foodsecurity in particular, contributing to improvements in the livelihoods of billions of rural poor. Thereis also global recognition that, during all these years, international agricultural research has providedvalue for money, with high returns on investment and with tangible benefits far exceeding costs. Ithas often been cited that 1 dollar invested in the CGIAR brings about 9 dollars in increasedproductivity in developing countries.Yet the world has changed since the seventies. Today, agriculture faces multiple and complex newchallenges. In addition to the traditional problems of improvements in production and productivityto feed a growing world population and reducing poverty levels that the CGIAR has been and willcontinue to address, we are currently facing a global natural resources crisis, with growing scarcity ofwater, land degradation and depletion of fish stocks. We are also facing a price volatility crisis that 1 Consortium Office: Agropolis International, Avenue Agropolis, F-34394 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France
  • 2. Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centersreduces the ability of poor people to purchase food and confronts farmers with rising costs of inputssuch as fertilizers, fuel and equipment. We are confronted with an energy crisis, with growingcompetition for food staples from biofuels. Climate change is putting increasing stress on alreadystrained food production systems. We need to address the increasing demand for meat, milk andother animal products as income rises in the developing world. We continue to encounteragricultural trade distorting protectionist practices in major developed countries that limit access tomarkets and contribute to unfair competition, as well as inappropriate government policies, such asexport bans, which were important drivers of the 2007-08 food price crises. All these challengestranspire at a time when governments are facing tight budgetary constraints in view of the criticaldebt and financial crises.Under these circumstances, “business-as-usual” was no longer possible, and this also applied tointernational agricultural research. As a result, the CGIAR has over the last two years undertaken aprofound process of reform. It is renewing itself with a major revision in the way it operates. Thisreform embodies institutional and governance changes, new approaches to scientific work and muchgreater attention to partnerships. Without getting into details, I would like to focus my interventiontoday on the main features of this reform.We developed a Common Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) that provides the basis forcollective and concerted action by the 15 Centers that make up the CGIAR and their hundreds ofpartners. This single strategy for the whole CGIAR system represents a radical change from theprevious loose coalition of independent research institutes. The SRF identifies the evolving contextof international agricultural research and the CGIAR´s role over the coming years on the basis of itscomparative advantage. 2 Consortium Office: Agropolis International, Avenue Agropolis, F-34394 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France
  • 3. Consortium of International Agricultural Research CentersThe SRF also defines the four strategic system level outcomes that our research programs shouldpursue: reduce rural poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and health, and ensure amore sustainable management of natural resources.This strategy includes a departure from a traditional center-focused research into a program-centered research. It includes the development of a coherent set of new cross-center programs: theCGIAR Research Programs or CRPs, which unlock the development potential of diverse food staplesand agricultural systems, maximize the efficient management of natural resources, whilesimultaneously addressing other issues affecting agriculture and food security, such as climatechange, nutrition, institutions and market access.As of today, the 15 CRPs which form the new CGIAR Research portfolio have been approved by theConsortium Board, which I have the honor to chair. Most of the CRPs have approved funding fromthe Fund Council, and half are already in operation.The portfolio of CGIAR Research Programs covers a very comprehensive field of subjects aimed atimproving the livelihoods of the poor. These include crop genetic improvement producing varietiesthat remain highly productive under climate stress such as drought, floods, salinity, and pest anddiseases infestation. It extends the traditional research on the three main staple foods: maize, riceand wheat, to a number of other commodities essential for food security in developing countriessuch as roots, tubers and bananas, livestock and fish, dry land cereals and legumes. It alsoincorporates specific research programs on forestry, policies, institutions, markets and climatechange. It includes research that results in crop varieties that have a higher nutritional content andbring significant health benefits to farmers and consumers. It covers improved water and soilmanagement practices that increase agricultural productivity and resilience. Other areas of researchdeal with the control of post-harvest losses, public policies and investment, improved access to 3 Consortium Office: Agropolis International, Avenue Agropolis, F-34394 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France
  • 4. Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centersmarkets or improved food safety. This design enables the gender and diversity dimensions andcapacity strengthening of those we serve to be kept high in the agenda of our research programs.The CGIAR Research Programs are important mechanisms around which better coordination andcollaboration of research efforts can be organized. A large number of developed and developingcountries, research centers and partners, are already participating in these CRPs and we inviteothers to join in these efforts.The major objective of this reform is to secure that international agricultural research fordevelopment has a greater impact on the ground on the four mentioned system level outcomes. Toachieve the outcomes, there needs to be a greater focus on understanding how research bringsabout change. Much greater attention is being placed on partnerships so that the CGIAR can workwith those organizations and groups which are best placed to ensure research leads to sustainableimpact, and measurable improvements in the well-being of farmers and their families. There areobvious complementarities between the CGIAR research work and FAO’s developing and extensionwork. As we start implementing our CRPs, this is the time to ensure a much greater level ofcollaboration and coordination of our activities with FAO. It is certainly our intention to work muchcloser together than in the past, in order to achieve our common goals and objectives.On the institutional front, the reform consists of the establishment of a Consortium Board and aFund Council. The Consortium Board defines policies, strategies and priorities; ensures collectiveactions by the fifteen Centers aimed at the development of joint programs (CRPs); promotes greaterpartnership with stakeholders in order to achieve results and meet the farmers’ needs. TheConsortium speaks with one voice in the name of all the Centers. 4 Consortium Office: Agropolis International, Avenue Agropolis, F-34394 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France
  • 5. Consortium of International Agricultural Research CentersThe Fund Council will harmonize the donors’ funding based on the Strategy and Results Framework(SRF), and ensure greater efficiency in the allocation of resources, as well as the reduction inreporting requirements by Centers.We would like to take this opportunity to thank FAO for having hosted in the past in its headquartersin Rome, the CGIAR Alliance which was the precursor of the Consortium, for currently hosting theISPC (Independent Science & Partnership Council) and in the future the IEA (Independent EvaluationAgreement), which are important components of our institutional system.The new CGIAR is developing the structures and capacities to meet the challenges of the 21stcentury, improving the livelihoods of the rural poor, delivering improved food security in thedeveloping world while maintaining our environmental heritage for future generations.As Norman Borlaug once said: “Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world”.At the CGIAR, we stand ready to continue the work initiated by Borlaug and countless other pioneersto ensure a more food secured world. Thank you for this honor and privilege of being with youtoday. 5 Consortium Office: Agropolis International, Avenue Agropolis, F-34394 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France