Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, CGIAR EMD, launches her tour of CGIAR Center HQs at ICARDA
ICARDA was delighted to host Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, the newly appointed Executive Managing Director of CGIAR, on the first step in her world tour of CGIAR’s Research Center Headquarters, regions, and partners.
In line with her commitment to gaining valuable insights from the field, Dr. Elouafi aims to visit all global CGIAR centers in the coming months. These activities underscore her efforts to cultivate a broad spectrum of knowledge and understanding to inform her vision of enhanced collaboration for improved science, efficiency, and productivity. Her visit to ICARDA was particularly poignant as it was here that she pursued part of her Ph.D. studies in genetics.
Welcomed by Mr. Aly Abousabaa, Director General ICARDA’s and CGIAR Regional Director, CWANA, Dr. Elouafi kicked off a packed two-day agenda with a closing workshop on ICARDA’s iNSHAR project that focuses on improved crop production within a water-scarce and extreme heat environment. Dr Elouafi met local dignitaries and farmers and witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of how CGIAR’s science generates resilient livelihoods for Egypt’s rural communities in the face of intensifying climate change.
Dr. Elouafi and Mr. Abousabaa then embarked on strategic meetings with key stakeholders. With H.E. Al-Sayed el-Quseir, Egypt’s Minister of Agriculture, she emphasized the importance of collaboration and highlighted CGIAR’s commitment to climate-smart agricultural development tailored to address specific needs of the country and beyond.
Meanwhile, discussions with Mr. Walid Hakiki, Head of Planning Sector at Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, further explored avenues for cooperation to mitigate the country’s significant water scarcity and soil salination challenges.
Meeting representatives from ICARDA’s Egypt NARS partner, the Agricultural Research Center (ARC), Dr. Elouafi, discussed collaborative work on climate-smart crops and essential research for safeguards and early warnings against the impacts of climate change. High on the agenda was how CGIAR’s science can provide more comprehensive agricultural options and safety nets to counter issues related to fluctuations in grain import price and availability, a significant challenge for the region in 2023.
Dr. Elouafi’s dedication to nurturing collaborative partnerships extended to meetings with ICARDA’s regional partners, including Ambassadors to Egypt and Heads of Donor and Partner organizations. These interactions, alongside leadership teams from other CGIAR centers working in the region, facilitated a dynamic exchange of ideas, aligning CGIAR’s core mission of food, land, and water system transformation with evolving and specific partner needs.
At the heart of Dr. Elouafi’s visit was an intensive dialogue with ICARDA’s management team. Discussions delved into ICARDA’s platforms in CWANA, ICARDA’s new 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy, CGIAR’s Global Dryland Strategy (led by ICARDA), and how CGIAR can learn from ICARDA’s decentralized research model, a result of ICARDA’s conflict-driven relocation from Syria in 2012.
Dr. Elouafi also engaged with the entire CGIAR Egypt staff team at a hybrid meeting, including from sister centers IWMI, WorldFish, IFPRI, and The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, via an in-person Q&A session.
Open dialogue was met with appreciation by CGIAR teams on the ground, and Dr. Elouafi reaffirmed her vision of a collaborative and unified OneCGIAR model where the combined strength of CGIAR’s Global Research Centers can significantly address agricultural challenges. Dr. Elouafi’s efforts signal CGIAR’s mission toward a more sustainable and resilient agricultural future in a world grappling with pressing food security and climate challenges.