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“There is no doubt we have a collective ability to create a CGIAR 2030 Plan and that 2019 could be a defining year in CGIAR evolution.” – System Council Chair’s summary, SC8

CGIAR’s governing bodies played a key role during 2019 to set the future course for a more integrated, unified CGIAR that is better positioned to contribute to meeting the interdependent challenges that face today’s world. This included taking decisions to more clearly prioritize gender equality in CGIAR’s workplaces and its research portfolio, improving program performance, and the creation of additional modules in the portfolio to facilitate funding of key initiatives. The governance bodies worked in tandem to bring concepts into reality.

“The Board is operating with a clear sense of the compelling need for the System to work in a more collective, aligned manner so that together with our Funders, we jointly set the right ambition, operational framework, and cross-Center institutional arrangements to take us forward to 2030 in a way that delivers most for the stakeholders that we are in existence to deliver greatest value to.” SMB Chair’s summary, SMB13

Furthermore, the CGIAR System Reference Group, established in 2018, served as an important forum for bringing together representatives from across CGIAR’s governing bodies to collaboratively develop bold recommendations on CGIAR’s research focus, delivery model, and institutional and operational structure.

“It is salient to recognize that we most certainly could not have reached this point without the open-mindedness of all parts of the System who demonstrated a genuine willingness to work ‘as one’, not only in reaching these ground-breaking agreements, but also in their desire to see them move forward into implementation.” System Council Chair’s summary, SC9

Over the course of 2019, good governance processes underpinned key steps that saw:

  • From January 1, the CGIAR Advisory Services of the Independent Science for Development Council (ISDC) and the Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) operate with focused mandates from end-2018 System Council-approved terms of reference.
  • In late January, the Chairs of the Center Boards of Trustees and the Center Directors General came together as the General Assembly of the Centers for its 3rd meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, to share achievements and emerging plans, and to discuss items related to broader operations of the CGIAR System and CGIAR System Organization.
  • In April, the System Management Board (SMB) made an important start to collective efforts toward 2030 by providing strategic guidance on where CGIAR’s focus should be on the development of a CGIAR 2030 Plan.
  • In May, the CGIAR System Council put in motion the development of the “CGIAR 2030 Plan” by endorsing a roadmap that would be taken forward under the stewardship of a CGIAR System Reference Group.
  • During the June to October period, an interconnected series of meetings of the System Reference Group, CGIAR Center leadership, oversight committees, and the System Management Board provided input, strategic guidance and support for key areas that would drive major progress where innovation is needed to deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, anchored in more unified governance, institutions, country engagement and funding.
  • In November, the System Council unanimously endorsed moving to operating as “One CGIAR” – to transform CGIAR’s research system into a more unified, integrated CGIAR led by an empowered CGIAR Executive Management Team.[1]

Independent Assurance

The CGIAR System’s Internal Audit Function continued to deliver independent assurance to the CGIAR System Management Board (SMB) and CGIAR System Council according to risk-based rolling, multi-year planning overseen by the SMB’s Audit and Risk Committee (ARC).

Key engagements completed in 2019 found the need for a CGIAR Code of Research Ethics, a crisis management mechanism to address cross-system issues, and for an IT governance membership on cloud computing, with such system-wide controls being viewed by management and internal audit as essential to operate effectively as One CGIAR. Implementation progress of such recommendations is regularly reviewed by the ARC, and periodically discussed by the System Council’s Assurance Oversight Committee.

In its early 2020 Report to the ARC, the Internal Audit Function observed that significant progress has been made by CGIAR entities working together to develop more efficient whole of CGIAR frameworks, including efforts by the Human Resources Community of Practice to advice common ethics frameworks for staff, and closer collaboration among the IT community of practice to manage key IT risks).

[1] All decisions of the System Management Board and System Council are publicly available.

Header Photo: CIP Mozambique Country Director Maria Andrade at the potato test lab in Maputo, Mozambique. Photo by ICorthier/CIP.