To successfully address the role of food systems in the climate crisis, CGIAR has embarked on a process of change to ensure that it can work to its full potential, deliver impact, and be the best agricultural research resource for partners in the global South. This process involves an ambitious change agenda to create One CGIAR. The changes are underpinned by the recognition that CGIAR’s governance and institutions need to be united in order to tackle the complex and integrated challenges to food, land and water systems.
CGIAR’s original mission – to solve hunger – must now address more complex 21st century challenges for food, land and water systems to deliver comprehensive access to healthy diets and decent employment within environmental limits. Climate change is a unifying theme of an urgent food, land and water systems transformation. The accelerating crisis threatens the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Agriculture and food systems are a leading cause of climate change, as well as the largest human imprint on biodiversity, land and water systems – but they are also a leading solution to the climate and environmental crises and their impacts on human welfare.
To strengthen connectivity to global agendas such as the SDGs, CGIAR is updating its research focus, organization and approach to partnerships to:
1 Reflect a 21st century assessment of challenges
2 Clearly explain our contribution to the world
3 Create greater focus and cohesion
4 Support impacts across multiple impact areas that align with the SDGs
One CGIAR involves a dynamic reformulation of CGIAR’s partnerships, knowledge and physical assets. It will build on an energized, interconnected, and diverse global talent pool, and will ensure more unified governance, institutions, country engagement, and funding. Its excellent leaders, scientists and staff can deliver more when they are configured within fewer institutional boundaries and with clearer, more unified and empowered management and governance.
One CGIAR aims to drive major progress in key areas where innovation is needed to deliver on the SDGs by 2030. CGIAR research will focus on SDG2 (achieving zero hunger) in particular, and will also work toward delivering impact on SDG1 (ending poverty in all its forms everywhere), SDG5 (achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls), SDG6 (ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all), SDG13 (taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts), and SDG15 (protecting, restoring and promoting the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating diversification, halting and reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss).
In late 2018, a System Reference Group (SRG) was formed to propose changes to CGIAR. The SRG agreed on a set of recommendations for One CGIAR, structured around five interconnected elements:
1 A compelling and aligned mission
2 Unified governance
3 Institutional convergence
4 More and better funding
5 A new way of organizing transformative research programs
The recommendations build on the governance changes that were implemented by the Centers and Funders in 2016 and were unanimously endorsed by the CGIAR System Council at its 9th meeting on November 13-14, 2019. The endorsed recommendations set out key roles and responsibilities, target dates, and initial actions in the transition to One CGIAR. As part of this process, and to increase the participation and voice of partners and System stakeholders, members of the SRG joined a broader Transition Consultation Forum (TCF) as well as thematic Transition Advisory Groups (TAGs) to provide input and advice to CGIAR leadership to end-2020.
Recognizing the need for a global partnership to transform food systems while restoring our environment, in 2019 the CGIAR business plan for 2019-2021 was initiated. The plan focuses on CGIAR’s role in meeting the SDGs and the global challenges expressed within these goals, and in distilling and linking the many elements in CGIAR’s Strategy and Results Framework, and Research Portfolio.
The elements of the business plan add up to an ambitious but achievable set of innovations to create a more efficient, focused and less fragmented System, to proactively manage a necessary evolution of the CGIAR System as it faces profound shifts in its operating environment.
Header photo: At a climate-smart village in Ludhiana, India. Photo by L. Sebastian/IRRI-CCAFS.