Message from the Executive Management Team
Welcome to the CGIAR Annual Performance Report for 2020 — a year in which people across the world faced significant challenges as the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic spread globally. Yet, 2020 was also a year of great renewal for CGIAR, particularly as we took important steps toward our transition to One CGIAR.
This year’s report shares CGIAR’s accomplishments for 2020, showcasing and summarizing an impressive year for research and results. Despite the exceptional strain of 2020, CGIAR continued to make strong contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with CGIAR’s Research Programs reporting 92 cases of high-level impact aligned to the SDGs.
Together with its partners, CGIAR worked towards its goals in 2020. Across the CGIAR Portfolio, 104 innovations were taken up by next users — a 79% increase from the previous year. CGIAR also reported 265 innovations available for uptake. With an updated reporting system for innovations this year, CGIAR reported a total of 1,821 innovations, with the majority related to genetic innovation. Also in 2020, 128 policies informed by CGIAR research, 1,180,222 people trained by CGIAR and 2,193 peer-reviewed publications contributed to our global impact.
The COVID-19 outbreak brought to the forefront the importance of science for resilient, healthy, and sustainable food systems. CGIAR is playing a critical role in understanding and addressing the causes of the pandemic, tracking the impacts on food security among poor households, informing responses to the crisis, and contributing to a more resilient world.
CGIAR made a strong commitment to ensuring a research response to the pandemic by establishing a COVID-19 Hub in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. CGIAR Centers across the globe reoriented their research and resources to respond to the health, social, and economic crisis posed by COVID-19 to help the estimated 100 million people pushed into extreme poverty and food insecurity by the pandemic.
CGIAR worked in partnerships during the year to understand and address the links across health, nutrition, and environmental protection. One key partnership, the Lancet Countdown initiative, stressed the importance of aligning COVID-19 recovery efforts with responses to climate change to protect health, promote a sustainable economy, and preserve the planet. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) “State of the World’s Forests,” which drew on CGIAR’s work, emphasized the relationship between environmental degradation and the increased risk of human exposure to zoonotic diseases.
The report “Preventing the next pandemic – Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission,” co-produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and CGIAR’s International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), stressed the need for evidence-based scientific assessments to examine the environmental and zoonotic context of the COVID-19 pandemic and outlined seven human-mediated factors that are most likely driving the emergence of zoonotic diseases.
During the year, scientists within the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock worked with national partners in Ethiopia to support the Ethiopian government by optimizing and validating pooled testing. They also proposed a method using geospatial analysis to map and identify hotspot areas where COVID-19 mass testing should be prioritized. In Kenya, at the request of support from the Kenyan Ministry of Health, ILRI temporarily re-purposed its laboratory to process COVID-19 tests. By the end of 2020, more than 20,000 samples had been tested for COVID-19.
CGIAR also worked with governments and local partners in numerous countries to inform policies and government decision-making on responses to the pandemic, including through the evaluation of the economic cost of the pandemic, and the development of tools that track food prices and food security and policy responses.
To understand CGIAR’s strengths and challenges from a wider perspective, the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation commissioned a report to determine the benefit-cost ratio of CGIAR, finding that investments of approximately US$60 billion in CGIAR during the past five decades in present value terms have generated a benefit-cost ratio of 10 to 1.
The Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) released its first assessment of CGIAR in 2020, confirming that CGIAR provides a unique international resource for agricultural research and innovation and that CGIAR is relevant and responsive to demands arising from dynamic development challenges. MOPAN’s assessment provided important guidance on taking a leadership role on gender equality, driving performance through results-based management, and strengthening the culture of evaluation.
The transition to One CGIAR advanced rapidly in 2020, building on the progress and strategic decisions made in earlier years. CGIAR established a Transition Consultation Forum, which allows for multi-stakeholder input and advice on the transition to One CGIAR.
In September, CGIAR appointed the members of the System Board, and we as CGIAR’s Executive Management Team began our term, receiving the mandate to further lead and deliver the transition to One CGIAR.
Embedding gender equity, diversity and inclusion (GDI) is critical to the One CGIAR transition. In 2020, CGIAR established a new GDI Function to support the implementation of the Framework for GDI in CGIAR workplaces as part of a two-year Action Plan. Also in the year, CGIAR reached its Action Plan target of 35% women in professional roles, and was close to achieving the 2021 target of 40%.
Transitioning to One CGIAR also presented the opportunity to develop a fresh strategy to shape a stronger, more relevant, and integrated science agenda. After a year of participatory design, including consultation with hundreds of regional partners, the System Council approved the System Board-recommended CGIAR 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy in December 2020 and its accompanying CGIAR Performance and Results Management Framework. A new unified CGIAR Research Ethics Code was also developed to underpin good practice globally.
With poverty and hunger expected to rise, the fragility of food systems being ever more obvious and an urgent need for transformation in them, the need for CGIAR to be more impactful than the sum of its parts is more compelling than ever before.
Juergen Voegele, Chair, System Council, SC11 Chair’s Summary
The new strategy establishes a bold direction for CGIAR research and innovation — with a stronger focus on impact than ever before. Aligning closely with the emerging agenda for the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit, the Strategy bolsters CGIAR relevance to global challenges by building climate resilience and mitigation into the core of CGIAR’s work.
Aiming for multiple benefits, the new Strategy focuses on nutrition and the quality, as well as quantity, of food produced, seeks to reduce gender disparities in food systems, addresses critical biodiversity and water challenges in agriculture, and centers on how food systems can provide decent livelihoods and reduce poverty.
Moving closer to One CGIAR in 2020, while uniting around our new collective strategy for research and innovation, gave CGIAR a solid foundation for the exciting transitions ahead.
We hope you enjoy reading our 2020 Annual Performance Report and the summary of results, reach, and impact for the year. Building on what we have achieved in 2020, we look forward to continuing to work with our partners toward a more resilient, sustainable and equitable food system in the future.
CGIAR’s Executive Management Team
Claudia Sadoff is a globally recognized leader in water management for international development. She most recently served as the Director General of CGIAR’s International Water Management Institute (IWMI), headquartered in Sri Lanka that works globally to find water solutions for sustainable, climate-resilient development. She also served as a member of the CGIAR Board from September 2018 to August 2020, acting as CGIAR Gender Champion.
Elwyn Grainger-Jones, an experienced leader and change manager, has a deep understanding of development, food systems transformation, and climate change. Elwyn’s role as Managing Director adds to his responsibilities as Executive Director of the CGIAR System Organization, which role he has leveraged to help initiate the design for CGIAR’s entities to transform into operating as One CGIAR, among other achievements.
Kundhavi Kadiresan, a development expert, has more than 25 years of experience in policies and programs. Most recently, she served as Assistant Director General for Asia and Pacific for FAO, where she advocated and supported FAO’s work on food, agriculture, water, forestry, fisheries, livestock, one health, nutrition, and climate change, supporting member states to achieve their SDGs and meet their commitments to the Paris Agreement.