Key 2018 developments
During 2018, CGIAR’s governing and advisory bodies provided important strategic direction, oversight, and accountability* for the System.
Key developments included:
- Agreement of the inaugural CGIAR System 3-year Business Plan (2019-2021). Stewarded by the System Management Board (SMB) through to approval by the System Council in November 2018, the plan reflects the broad input and commitment of CGIAR’s stakeholders to working in an increasingly aligned and strategic manner (refer below).
- Establishment of a CGIAR System Reference Group (SRG) as a forum in which Funders and the SMB can assess CGIAR’s comparative advantage and design bold action to better deliver research and innovations that support global efforts to address the world’s fragile food system. Recommendations of the SRG are anticipated to be endorsed by the System Council in November 2019, to then inform the development of a longer term ‘CGIAR 2030 Plan’ (the 2030 Plan), a key action in the 2019-2021 Business Plan.
- Ensuring a fully constituted System Council Assurance Oversight Committee (AOC) to provide assurance of the completeness and effectiveness of System-wide audit functions, with structured reporting lines between internal and external auditors and the System Council; and oversight of System-wide governance, risk management and internal controls.
- Articulating the forward-looking direction of the System Council’s independent science and impact assessment advisory bodies for implementation in 2019, with support from a newly established Advisory Services Shared Secretariat.
Functioning of the System Council
The System Council continued during 2018 to keep under review the strategy, mission, impact and continued relevance of the CGIAR System in a rapidly changing landscape of agricultural research for development. In addition to the 27 formal decisions taken during 2018, the System Council used its convening power to steward the System’s conversations on proactive measures to strengthen gender equality in both CGIAR’s research and its workplaces. The commitment of System Council members on its Standing Committees and other related groups further contributed to effective functioning of this governance body’s important mandate.
Functioning of the System Management Board
The System Management Board (SMB) also functioned effectively in 2018. It met four times (twice virtually) and added retreat days for dedicated strategic discussion. During 2018, the SMB progressed 51 formal decisions, reached continuously across the System for opinion and presentations by expert staff, dealt with compliance matters in ways that strengthened Funder confidence, and acted on reports of its Audit and Risk Committee, as well as two ad hoc Working Groups. The key achievement for the year was its oversight of the design of a new business planning cycle, culminating in submission of a 2019-2021 three-year business plan to the System Council for approval in November 2018.
Three-year Business Plan 2019-2021
To fully unlock the potential of the 2016 CGIAR governance reforms – which opened the door to a reinvigorated sense of collective ownership – in 2018 the CGIAR System approved an inaugural CGIAR System 3-Year Business Plan (2019-2021).
System Advisory Functions
The CGIAR System’s 2018 objective, expert advisory bodies comprised:
- Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC)
- Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA)
- Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA)
- Forward-looking operational principles for System Council advisory bodies
- System Council Intellectual Property Group (SC IP Group)
CGIAR System Internal Audit Function
2018 was the first year of operation of the newly designed CGIAR System Internal Audit Function, the primary purpose of which is to identify strategic recommendations that add value and improve CGIAR System-wide operations, achievable only by reason that the Internal Audit Function arrangements take a cross-System view.
A major feature of the work of the Internal Audit Function team is to provide Centers and the SMB with evidence-based and benchmarked recommendations grounded in engagement of wide-range of stakeholders and whole of system data. This helps to prioritize actions that strengthen the cross-System operational environment that is fit for purpose given the nature of CGIAR research activities.
Providing valuable information upon which to make improvements, key 2018 engagements:
- provided assurance to CGIAR’s stakeholders that CGIAR Centers have in place procurement, anti harassment and whistle-blowing policies and continue to strengthen these;
- established a baseline of arrangements supporting objectivity of the external auditors of CGIAR entities contributing to further discussions on maximizing the benefits of this important assurance provider;
- assessed the extent to which risks and opportunities related to common CGIAR ICT systems are well managed.
In 2018, a whole of System review of the quality of Internal Audit teams benchmarked to international standards was undertaken, with the results of it being shared with Centers and SMB in early 2019.