Listening to boost CGIAR’s agricultural research and innovation for sustainable, inclusive, and equitable food systems in Latin America and the Caribbean

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Session with research & academic institutions, and international organizations. CIMMYT HQ, Texcoco, Mexico. ©CYMMYT

By Joaquín Lozano, CGIAR’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

Over the last three months, CGIAR regional and country teams around the globe have devoted important efforts to prepare, carry out, and analyze the outcomes of what we call Listening Sessions with our stakeholders in almost 30 countries.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the first round of sessions has taken place in Peru, Colombia and Mexico, co-organized and co-convened by CGIAR’s regional office and Centers including CIP, the Alliance of Bioversity International-CIAT, and CIMMYT.

In those sessions, we heard from our partners what, in their opinion, is needed to build sustainable, inclusive, and equitable food systems across the region, how the region can contribute to global solutions, and how we can strengthen our collaboration to achieve higher impact.

It has indeed been—and continues to be—a fascinating exercise. Their inputs will be invaluable in shaping the next phase of CGIAR’s research and innovation portfolio that will be implemented from 2025. Furthermore, they will help us to steer our stakeholder engagement and partnerships strategy in the longer term.

Session with researchers. Nutrition Research Institute HQ, Lima, Peru. ©CIAT

Genuine partnerships have been one of CGIAR’s most outstanding features since its foundation more than half a century ago. But in an increasingly interconnected world that is facing increasingly complex issues, it was timely to launch a formal and systematized dialogue and exchange exercise. It is an experience that may be expanded in the near future to keep the conversations flowing.

Therefore, these sessions aim not only to feed into our vision of focused, precise, and tailored research programs and solutions to the challenge of feeding a growing population in the context of climate change, but also to explore in depth the priorities of critical stakeholders who recognize the unique value of CGIAR.

Session with public and private research and academic institutions. Bogota, Colombia. ©CIAT

As one of the participants in the Colombia session said, “the question regarding priority areas in our country is particularly significant. It is crucial to comprehend these priorities from the demand’s perspective rather than from the supply’s.”

Another participant in Mexico hit the nail on the head, saying, “the goal is to foster understanding of each other’s work, encourage collaboration, avoid duplicating efforts, replicate successful practices and technologies, and generate impactful projects.”

Session with federal, state, and legislative authorities. CIMMYT HQ, Texcoco, Mexico. ©CIMMYT

Of course, the perspectives of our different stakeholders vary. One producer from Peru pointed out that “it is crucial to have the support of researchers to generate evidence demonstrating the impacts of our practices and providing necessary support for our advocacy actions with governments.”

One of the objectives of these Listening Sessions has been to extract from those different perspectives common directions that can guide our research activities.

In the case of the Latin America and the Caribbean region, that objective has not only regional significance but also global implications. As emphasized over the last few months, Latin America has an incredible potential not only to feed its own population, but also to contribute significantly to global food security.

Session with civil society and producers’ organizations. CIP HQ, Lima, Peru. ©CIP

The initial sessions held in the region, which I was privileged to attend and co-host in person, have been truly inspiring events, thanks to the time and in-depth exchanges with representatives of national research institutions and academia, governments, private sector, small farmers, civil society, and international organizations.

We are currently reviewing and systematizing the rich outcomes of the intense dialogues. This will help us to continue building the increasingly integrated regional agricultural research and innovation agenda.

A big thank you to my colleagues Simon Heck, Juan Lucas Restrepo, Bram Govaerts, and their amazing teams at the CGAIR Centers they respectively lead—CIP, the Alliance, and CIMMMYT—particularly Stef de Haan, Javier Ochoa, Joe Tohme, Natalia Ortiz, Deissy Martinez Barón, Luz Adriana Muñoz, Jelle Van Loon, Daniela Vega, Edith Robledo and Alberto Iturria who, together with Temina Lalani-Shariff, Aymé Muzo, Ismael Erriest and Lilia Salinas, made this exercise such a great success.

Session with local governments, academia, and international organizations. Alliance Bioversity-CIAT Campus, Palmira, Colombia ©CIAT.

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