Commitment, Collaboration, Co-creation: the Way Forward for CGIAR and Partners in South Asia

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Recent high-level meetings in Nepal and India opened a new phase of constructive dialogue between CGIAR and partners, and saw the launch of an ambitious, concrete regional research and innovation agenda.  

Participants at the CGIAR Research Initiative Introduction and Stakeholder Dialogue summits, held on June 9 in Kathmandu, Nepal and June 14 in New Delhi, India, agreed on strengthened collaboration and enhanced support to Nepalese and Indian institutions, to respond to escalating threats to food, water, and land ecosystems.  

“We are building on 50 years of successful regional collaboration,” said Temina Lalani-Shariff, Regional Director, South Asia, CGIAR. “But to tackle the complexity of today’s challenges, we need to dialogue and collaborate differently with our partners. During the summits, the portfolio of initiatives, which had been developed with extensive stakeholder consultations and input, was shared for collective review and robust debate. And we were able to identify together whether there were any remaining gaps between the research initiatives being proposed and in-country partner needs around climate change, biodiversity, nutrition and food security, poverty reduction and gender equality, and address those straightaway. This sets us on a path to co-create good research and good research outcomes in the region.”  

For Dr. Martin Kropff, Global Director, Resilient Agri-Food Systems, CGIAR (former Director General of CIMMYT, the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center, and BISA, the Borlaug Institute for South Asia), the One CGIAR transition will make the global organization more accessible and responsive to local needs, opportunities and circumstances. He said: “We developed a new 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy based on global and regional analyses of the food system challenges with our partners. Based on that, we are launching a new Research Portfolio with 33 global initiatives, that work in key countries in the different regions in the Global South; with six regional integrated initiatives that focus on regionally-specific major challenges to make it demand driven, and systems approaches, integrating improved genetics, management of agrifood systems and policies and governance. The portfolio of initiatives was co-designed with global, regional and national stakeholders and they are involved in the execution of the initiatives that have started now. We create a continuous feedback loop with our partners.”  

With One CGIAR, Dr. Kropff noted, stakeholders have a one-stop shop to access CGIAR’s global and regional capabilities. “As we conduct science with a focus on impact through our partnerships, we hope to have even more impact together as we build on the strong elements of our work but also innovate our scientific focus, to ensure we address the challenges of the future,” he continued. Dr. Kropff also expressed his warm thanks to CGIAR partners in South Asia, commending their expertise, commitment and collaboration which are vital to the common goal of transforming food, land and water systems across the region.   

Prof. Dr. Surendra Labh Karna, Hon. Member, Nepal National Planning Commission, emphasized that agricultural transformation is impossible without water. He noted the recent natural disasters that have struck Nepal, which have slowed the development process. Prof. Dr. Labh Karna shared his appreciation of CGIAR’s efforts and said: “This integrated vision and innovative research to solve climate issues is commendable and will help Nepal go upwards, specifically in the rural areas.”  

At the initiative launch in New Delhi, Narendra Singh Tomar, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare for India highlighted CGIAR’s efforts in the agriculture sector and said,CGIAR and India have been collaborating in the area of research for a long time with significant impact. In fact, we expect this kind of partnership to be forged with all stakeholders. We want a collaborative, healthy, supportive approach extended toward ICAR, associated centers, and state agricultural universities.”    

Dr. Mohapatra, Director General, ICAR, and Secretary, DARE, reflected on the CGIAR and India partnership, stating, “CGIAR System institutions have been important as a partner to India for decades. And as a partner in the CGIAR System, India has contributed immensely to the research and innovations at the global level. I believe this transformation to One CGIAR can contribute strategically and help strengthen systems at the local and regional level in addressing concerns surrounding impacts of climate, water security, sustainable food systems, gender, and others.”   

Ms. Lalani-Shariff noted that Bangladesh will be the next country in this current round of stakeholder engagement summits, with a CGIAR Research Initiative Introduction and Stakeholder Dialogue scheduled for July 20 in Dhaka. “We are very much looking forward to this upcoming partnership dialogue, while we are engaged in building on the momentum in each country where we’ve just co-hosted events. It’s exciting and motivating for everyone involved to have begun a new conversation, one that will continue going forward to ensure that South Asia’s research is demand-responsive, with country partners co-developing the program and working alongside CGIAR researchers for maximum impact.” 

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