Agriculture / Books and chapters / CGIAR / CRPs / Impact Assessment / Research

40-year CGIAR history published: Lots of lessons for the ‘New CGIAR’

CGIAR at 40 Years: Book cover

From CGIAR comes a new ‘look back’ at its evolution over 40 years. The book is titled The CGIAR at 40: Institutional Evolution of the World’s Premier Agricultural Research Network. It was written by Selçuk Özgediz, a Turkish national who was affiliated with CGIAR for 27 years, the last several years as management adviser to the CGIAR Secretariat (now Fund Office), located in the World Bank offices in Washington, DC. The book was published this month to mark the 40th anniversary of CGIAR last year.

This new history chronicles the evolution of CGIAR, formerly known as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, and now known solely by the acronym ‘CGIAR’.

As we embark on our 5th decade, this timely book chronicles that history in the hope that lessons can be drawn from that experience [of institutional evolution], just as important lessons have been drawn from our accomplishments on the ground.”—Jonathan Wadsworth, executive secretary of the CGIAR Fund Council and head of the CGIAR Fund Office

The institutional evolution of CGIAR is central both to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which is itself 40 years old this year and is one of 15 centres supported by CGIAR, and to the new multi-institutional CGIAR Research Programs and components that ILRI now leads or participates in. For this reason, we quote extensively from the new CGIAR book below. Please note that the excerpts are presented in chronological order but with much material from the original omitted between most of the excerpts.

We recommend those interested to read the whole 142-page illustrated publication, which is available online on the CGIAR Fund website: The CGIAR at 40: Institutional Evolution of the World’s Premier Agricultural Research Network, by Selçuk Özgediz, CGIAR, Sep 2012.

Selcuk Ozgediz

Excerpts

As the 1990s drew to a close, the CGIAR [Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research] had acquired a growing and increasingly complex research agenda, with new subjects such as climate change and nutrition demanding a share of the resources. Internally, annual funding was in the range of $330–340 million, which was insufficient to tackle the research agenda. The outlook for ODA [official development assistance] remained uncertain, and there were worrying signs in the mode of finance. Restricted funding had risen from 23% of all funding in 1994/95 to 39% in 1998, limiting Centers’ freedom to allocate resources to high-priority projects. A retrospective review of the CGIAR conducted for the World Bank’s Operations Evaluation Department concluded that, despite its proven success, the CGIAR ‘is a rather fragile institution, especially in its funding. New ways need to be explored to ensure the CGIAR’s sustainability in the future.’

It was a highly challenging task, to say the least, to lead one of the [CGIAR] Centers during this time. The days of directors serving as intellectual leaders of the research program were long gone. Centers faced the perennial problem of running a long-term research program with annual funding that was increasingly uncertain. World Bank funding could no longer be relied on as a last resort. This meant that donor relations had to receive the top priority on a director general’s agenda. As the accountability (or bureaucratic) requirements of the system had increased over the years, the directors and their Center management staff had to attend to numerous requests from TAC [Technical Advisory Committee] and the CGIAR Secretariat, not to mention the individual donors, each of which had its own reporting requirements.

As shielding scientists from these administrative tasks was a priority, the time directors had available to spend on managing science steadily dwindled.

Perhaps the hardest task of all for [Centre] directors was responding to funding shortfalls. As the Centers had no way to borrow, other than through ad hoc arrangements with the CGIAR Secretariat, a sharp drop in funding required immediate staff downsizing. Practically all Centers faced this reality through the decade. As each country had its own labor laws, the means and consequences of downsizing differed among Centers. Continuing funding shortfalls meant another wave of downsizing, affecting the morale of staff and roiling the climate of uncertainty. Successive downsizings were usually followed by reorganization, which also unsettled staff. Thus, the CGIAR’s third decade was not a happy time for Centers or their managers and staff.

Thus, the third decade of the CGIAR came to an end as did the preceding decade, with the Group [CGIAR] exploring how it could become a better instrument for development. Despite the upheavals and difficulties, there was no question whether the CGIAR was making an impact, as evidence of Centers’ accomplishments accumulated. The debate was on how to sustain and broaden impact. A major piece of evidence had just come from the IAEG [Impact Assessment and Evaluation Group]. The first major study it had commissioned, on the impact of the CGIAR’s crop-improvement research, had just been completed.

For every dollar invested in CGIAR research, $9 worth of additional food was being produced in developing countries.

‘The counterfactual scenario—how the global food system would have evolved without CGIAR research—was sobering:

  • Developing countries would be producing 7–8% less food.
  • Their cultivated area would be 11–13 million hectares greater, at the expense of forests and other fragile environments.
  • Their per capita food consumption would be 5% lower.
  • Some 13–15 million more children would be malnourished.

At the 2002 AGM [Annual General Meeting of the CGIAR], . . . the Group was briefed by the World Bank’s Operations Evaluation Department, which had been conducting a meta evaluation of the CGIAR as part of an evaluation of all global programs it was involved with. Led by Uma Lele, a senior advisor in the Operations Evaluation Department and a former member of TAC, the meta evaluation turned into yet another review of the system. It made some recommendations internal to the World Bank on how to handle the CGIAR, such as eliminating conflicts of interest arising from the different roles played by the bank, and some recommendations on the strategic directions the CGIAR had been following in the aftermath of the third system review and the report of the CDMT.

The report concluded that the CGIAR was ‘less focused’ than in earlier years because of the decline in the share of its resources devoted to increasing productivity, which was a consequence of increased research investment in natural resource management and biodiversity. It argued that the CGIAR’s ‘current mix of activities reflects neither its comparative advantage nor its core competence’ and cautioned against the steep rise in restricted funding.

It listed the following as key factors explaining the changes in research mix and type of funding:

  • ‘The rise of environmentalism and growing environmental advocacy in donor countries.’
  • ‘The weakening of many national agricultural research systems,’ which had led donors to turn to Centers to fill the vacuum, thus shifting Centers’ focus away from creating global public goods toward contributing to the generation of local and national public goods.
  • ‘The unpopularity of germplasm improvement research in the constituencies of some key donors due to negative perceptions of the Green Revolution initially and of biotechnology more recently.
  • ‘The CGIAR’s justified response to the second-generation environmental pressures on soils and water created by the radical changes in farming systems during the Green Revolution.

Saying that the international agricultural research system has changed since I joined CIAT [International Center for Tropical Agriculture] in 1969 would be a gross understatement. . . . The transition from a system tolerating a few economists to the current outstanding contributions of the system’s economics and policy research is remarkable. So is the transition from a few single Centers, each pursuing its own priorities with great success, to a network of 15 Centers with increasing emphasis on collaboration on key system priorities.—Per Pinstrup-Andersen

[Under Kathy Sierra] [a]lthough funding for the CGIAR had been increasing, there were several worrying signs on the ODA front. The boom years of the 1970s and 80s, when agriculture was given high priority, were long gone, as demand for ODA funds came increasingly from other sectors like health, education and energy. ODA to agriculture had declined from $6.2 billion in 1980 to 2.3 billion in 2003 (converted to 2002 dollars), and support to agriculture from the multilateral development agencies similarly declined from $3.4 billion to $0.5 billion over the same period. Consequently, the CGIAR had been taking an increasingly large share of agriculture ODA over time, which could not continue for too long. To complicate matters, new claims on donor funds were likely, as the previously dormant CP [CGIAR Challenge Program] process had been restarted and ExCo [CGIAR Executive Committee] had provided a green light for preparing proposals in three areas: climate change, high-value crops, and desertification. In view of growing global concern over climate change, the Group agreed at the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, to pursue as well a CGIAR strategic initiative on climate change and to double research related to climate change.

Also troubling were the distribution and composition of funding to the CGIAR. Funding growth was not shared equally among Centers, with a few Centers facing serious difficulties, as reflected with the ‘red flags’ they received on financial indicators of the Performance Measurement System. Regarding composition, the share of funding that was restricted continued to grow, reaching for the system as a whole 64% in 2007. For some Centers it was over 70%, with several serious implications. Having less funding that was unrestricted meant that the Centers had less freedom to allocate funds to high-priority projects, leaving some unfunded. Also, restricted funds could, unless chosen with great care, introduce distortions to the program directions of a Center and of the system.

The danger was that a Center could turn into a consulting firm and lose the coherence of its research program. The CGIAR needed a coherent program not only at the system level but also at each Center.

There would be no problem if restricted projects were part of a coherent Center program and that program was aligned with system priorities.

The CGIAR’s experience of a shift toward restricted funding was not unique. It was part of a trend in the donor community from funding institutions to funding programs and projects. New global initiatives were being structured mainly in program and project terms, such as the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Fast Track Initiative for Education for All; Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations; Cities Alliance; and Global Environment Facility. Program and project funding provided a more direct and transparent link between funding and results than could the more opaque funding of institutions. This is why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation chose to support individual Center programs or projects instead of becoming a core donor to the CGIAR. Over time, the Gates Foundation became one of the largest financial supporters of CGIAR programs, contributing $61 million in 2009 and $71 million in 2010, by selectively choosing the CGIAR activities it believed would make the greatest impact on agricultural development.

Many donors were disturbed that the existing funding arrangements did not ensure the alignment of funding with the system’s agreed priorities.

The CGIAR started its second change management initiative in a decade when the importance of agricultural development was once again enjoying heightened recognition globally. The World Development Report 2008 called attention to expanding demand for food, feed and biofuels; the consequences of climate change; rising energy prices; and the worsening scarcity of water and other natural resources. More sustainable production systems were needed, which the CGIAR could play a significant role in providing, as well as higher government spending on agriculture in least-developed countries. The report also highlighted how agricultural subsidies in rich countries weakened the competitiveness and income potential of agriculture in developing countries and underscored the need to reform policies in both groups of countries. The World Bank advocated a new ‘agriculture for development’ agenda, akin to McNamara’s call in the 1970s for a rural development agenda, and indicated it would continue increasing its lending to agriculture. This caught the attention of world leaders, and the Group of Eight declared its commitment to addressing this structural crisis at their 34th Summit in Hokkaido, Japan, on 7–9 July 2008.

In retrospect, the timing of the World Development Report 2008 was very fortunate, as it pointed to solutions to problems in agriculture. The relevance of the report’s policy prescriptions became clearer, as did the role of investment in research, when severe food shortages began to be felt in poor developing countries and rising food prices sparked food riots.

The Economist noted in its April 2008 issue that ‘the way to feed the world is not to bring more land under cultivation, but to increase yields, i.e., through science.’

Table 1: Vision of change management in the CGIAR

  • FROM Mission creep and trying to do everything
    TO A clear vision with focused priorities that respond to global development challenges.
  • FROM Duplicative mandate of the Centers without a clear systemwide vision or strategy for impact
    TO Centers that collaborate and work toward the system agenda and priorities and deliver impact.
  • FROM Complex and cumbersome governance and lack of accountability
    TO Streamlined and effective system-level governance with clear accountability.
  • FROM Static partnerships that do not enable scalable impact and research adoption
    TO Strong and innovative partnerships with NARS, the private sector and civil society that enable impact.
  • FROM Lack of coordination among investors
    TO Strengthened, coordinated funding mechanisms that are linked to the system agenda and priorities.
  • FROM Declining core resources
    TO Stabilization and growth of resource support.

The change management initiative consumed the energy of the entire CGIAR leadership throughout 2008. The Change Steering Team and the working groups interacted frequently, holding at least four face-to-face meetings, a few of them overlapping with the meetings of the independent review panel. To solicit views from developing country stakeholders, the team held consultations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The working groups and the independent review panel prepared their separate reports by mid-September 2008. These were synthesized by the Change Steering Team in an integrated reform proposal for discussion at the October ExCo meeting and later at the AGM in Maputo, Mozambique, in December.

The building blocks of the new CGIAR became clear early on in the process:

  • a programmatic approach
  • the establishment of a fund
  • and assigning system management responsibility to a system-level board.

There was convergence of views with the independent review on these and several other aspects of the needed changes.

At the 2008 AGM the CGIAR discussed the integrated reform proposal and the report of the independent review.

The proposed vision of the new CGIAR was “to reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience through high-quality international agricultural research, partnership and leadership.”

Its strategic outcomes were:

  • reduced rural poverty
  • improved food security
  • improved nutrition and health
  • sustainably managed natural resources.

One of the basic principles underpinning the proposed reform was the organizational separation of those who implement CGIAR research (the ‘doers’) from those who fund it (the ‘funders’). The Centers would establish a separate international organization called the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, with a board, a chief executive officer (CEO) and the Consortium Office. The Consortium would represent the Centers and the CGIAR system. The counterpart of the Consortium on the funders’ side would be a strategic financing facility called the CGIAR Fund, with the Fund Council as its executive arm, supported by the Fund Office. The Funders Forum would bring together all funders every 2 years, including those not actively contributing to the CGIAR Fund.

A second basic principle was to shift financing through the CGIAR Fund increasingly toward global programs, initially called mega programs but later called CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), designed to contribute to the agreed Strategy and Results Framework (SRF), which provided a roadmap to achieving the new vision and strategic objectives. The SRF would be prepared by the Consortium in collaboration with stakeholders. Endorsement by donors at the Funders Forum would give license to the Consortium to develop CRPs that operationalized the SRF. These would be submitted to the Fund Council for approval and financing.

A third principle was that the twin ‘pillars’ of the system, the Consortium and the Fund, would be connected by four bridges to ensure the integration and connectedness of the entire system as a balanced partnership. Four key bridges were:

  • The SRF as the overarching strategic agenda to which both the funders and the doers subscribe.
  • The biennial Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development, organized jointly by GFAR [the Gobal Forum on Agricultural Research] and the CGIAR to better align the work of the CGIAR with global and regional needs and activities.
  • Binding program performance contracts for each CRP between the Fund and the Consortium and between the Consortium and the Centers.
  • The SC [Science Council] reconstituted as the Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC) to conduct foresight studies, facilitate partnerships and provide core scientific advice to the Fund and, upon request, to the Consortium.

A fourth principle was to strengthen accountability through results-based contracts, streamlined monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, and a new independent evaluation arrangement reporting to the Fund Council.

The Centers, as institutions, would no longer be accountable to the donors as a group, as was the case in the old CGIAR. Their accountability would be ensured mainly through formal performance agreements with the Consortium and other Centers or with projects bilaterally funded by donors.

The most debated aspect of reform was on how donors would be able to channel their contributions. The Fund was initially conceived as a vehicle for pooling contributions so that they could be allocated collectively to the highest-priority programs. However, the donors had their own priorities and were accustomed to targeting their funds to their preferred areas, increasingly so in recent years as shown by the rise in restricted contributions. The Fund was therefore designed to allow interested donors to target their contributions to approved CRPs. The thinking in the beginning was to have two windows, one for unrestricted, pooled contributions and the other for contributions to specific CRPs. Donors who preferred to channel their contributions directly to a Center, instead of through the CGIAR Fund, would still be able to do so bilaterally if the activities they supported contributed to the CGIAR SRF.

However, some donors expressed strong preference to channel their contributions to specific Centers through the CGIAR Fund, especially during the transition to a full portfolio of CRPs. Thus, a third window was added to the Fund structure for a 2-year transition period before its possible continuation would be reviewed. The Fund Council would not enter into any contractual relationships with the Consortium with respect to the use of so-called window 3 funds. The trustee would simply transfer the funds to the Center at the donor’s request. How these funds were to be used would be decided bilaterally by the Center and donor, outside the CGIAR Fund architecture.

With legal and administrative obstacles out of the way, donors began to contribute to the Fund. By November 2011, 24 donors had channeled $332 million to the Fund, with five making multiyear contributions. Total inflows for the year were expected to reach $425 million.

The New CGIAR is built on a new set of governance principles. Two of the original four principles have lost emphasis, but the other two remain essentially intact.

Donor sovereignty. The picture is mixed regarding this principle. Bilateral donors continue to enjoy the same sovereignty they did in the old CGIAR, but they do not have the privilege to contribute to decision-making as in the old CGIAR unless they also contribute through the CGIAR Fund. There is no weakening of the sovereignty of Fund donors as long as window 3 remains open, which gives them the opportunity to contribute to the Centers of their choice in line with side agreements outside the Fund structure for specific projects. Donors contributing to the pooled window 1, however, agree to leave decision-making to the Fund Council. This is seen as limiting sovereignty, albeit for the benefit of generating a larger resource pool that can be used for greater impact. In short, the emphasis on the principle of donor sovereignty has been somewhat weakened in the New CGIAR for the sake of strengthening harmonization among donors.

Independent scientific advice. An independent scientific advisory body still serves the New CGIAR but with a significantly reduced mandate. Donors can continue to seek and receive advice from this body as and when necessary, but responsibility for developing strategies and priorities for the system is transferred to the Consortium and responsibility for evaluation to a new unit. The ISPC has no strategic guidance and oversight responsibility vis-à-vis Centers. Its influence on the system is mainly through the advice provided to the Fund Council.

Center autonomy. Centers are no longer accountable to a donor group (i.e., the Fund Council) as there is no direct relationship between that group and individual Centers. The Center oversight and accountability mechanisms that existed in the old CGIAR have been replaced with new, mainly contractual, tools. While each Center has delegated some powers to the Consortium, mainly in the areas of inter-Center relations and dispute resolution, the Consortium is a creation of the Centers and does not possess direct oversight powers on them, except as prescribed in program implementation contracts. Therefore, it could be argued that, at the moment, Centers perhaps have greater autonomy in managing their affairs than in the old CGIAR. However, the power balance between individual Centers and the Consortium is likely to evolve over time as the New CGIAR becomes fully operational.

Consensus decision making. This remains the rule in the Fund Council and the Funders Forum, aiming, as it did in the old CGIAR, to maintain unity among donors. The Consortium board aims to make its decisions by consensus to the maximum extent possible but resorts to voting when consensus is not possible.

The governance principles that guide the New CGIAR are quite different from those of the old CGIAR. In addition to Center autonomy and, to a lesser extent, consensus decision making, three guiding points reflect the core of the new governance principles:

  • the separation of funders and doers
  • the harmonization of funding and implementation
  • managing for results.

Separation of funders and doers. This is the most basic principle of governance in the New CGIAR. It enables the responsibilities of entities to be defined more clearly than in the old CGIAR. Funders no longer engage in managerial matters, leaving them to the Consortium. The Consortium represents the CGIAR and provides a single point of entry to the system. The Fund has only the Consortium as its counterpart. As a consequence, funders as a group have no relations with individual Centers, which reverses the situation in the old CGIAR.

The separation principle ushers in a new form of relationship between the Fund and the Consortium. The informal mode of operation of the old CGIAR is replaced with formal contracts and other agreements between the Fund and the Consortium that clarify mutual obligations. Program performance agreements clearly define deliverables and provide the means of assessing research achievements.

Harmonization. This principle is intended to make the New CGIAR less ‘atomized than the old CGIAR. Collective action is promoted among both doers and funders, with the Consortium and the Fund Council playing facilitating roles. The long-term goal is to generate culture change in both the donor community and among the Centers for the benefit of the system and its beneficiaries.

Managing for results. This principle introduces a shift of focus from setting priorities to guide action to formalizing agreements to generate specific results on the ground. The SRF is intended to provide the logical framework of how outputs relate to outcomes and outputs to impacts. Performance is to be planned and monitored in terms of deliverables and results. The shift from institutional funding to program funding facilitates the results-orientation of the New CGIAR, and program performance agreements provide formal accountability reinforcing the emphasis on achieving results.

In summary, all but one of the governance principles that guided the CGIAR for 4 decades have been largely abandoned in favor of principles reflecting the new institutional architecture of the CGIAR. Conceptually, there is now a sharper delineation of roles and a more formal and prescribed relationship linking donors and Centers. The first few years if implementation should tell how effectively the new principles are able to steer the system toward its strategic objectives.

The 40-year experience of the CGIAR in mobilizing the donor and scientific communities around a common development objective has presented a number of lessons for both communities. As illustrated above, the CGIAR system has had its ups and downs in coping with challenges. Despite the hurdles, however, it has continued to generate expanding benefits for food production, environmental sustainability and capacity building in developing countries.

This is because the founders of the CGIAR believed in leaving the management of science to scientists by establishing autonomously governed Centers rather than a top-down corporate structure. Many of the lessons that emerge from the CGIAR experience relate to this basic founding principle and how it has created tensions with other valued objectives.

Observers of the CGIAR often ask if it would have the same structure if it were created today. The answer is a clear no because the architecture of the CGIAR evolved, rather than being etched on a clean slate. It started on a simple commodity axis with IRRI [International Rice Research Institute, based in The Philippines] and CIMMYT [International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, based in Mexico], then added a second, region axis with CIAT [International Center for Tropical Agriculture, in Colombia] and IITA [International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Nigeria]. While these two axes accommodated some of the Centers that came next—CIP [International Potato Center, Peru], ICRISAT [International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, India], ICARDA [International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Syria], ILCA [International Livestock Centre for Africa, Ethiopia], ILRAD [International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases, Kenya] and WARDA [West African Rice Development Association, Côte d’Ivoire]—a third axis, service, was added with ISNAR [International Service for National Agricultural Research, Netherlands] and IBPGR [International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, Italy]; a fourth axis, policy, with IFPRI [International Food Policy Research Institute]; and a fifth axis, natural resources, with IWMI [International Water Management Institute, Sri Lanka] and CIFOR [Centre for International Forestry Research] (the other Centers added—ICRAF [International Centre for Research on Agroforestry], INIBAP [International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain] and ICLARM [International Center for Living Acquatic Resources Mnagement]—fit one or another existing axis).

An organizing framework with so many axes lies at the heart of the CGIAR’s difficulties in coming up with an optimal structure. Each of the five axes intersected with all other four axes because most of the Centers had global mandates.

Each CRP [CGIAR Research Program] is integrative, bringing together inputs from all components of the Center system. The CGIAR Fund is designed primarily to finance this type of activity. Each Center gives up some sovereignty when contributing to a CRP in return for external funding for that activity. The autonomy of the Centers, especially in managing their science, is not otherwise threatened. To the extent that they are able to raise sufficient funds from bilateral sources to carry out other research within their areas of responsibility, they are likely to remain viable and sustain their relevance for many years.

[T]he key lesson on accountability from CGIAR experience is that each new evaluation activity should be assessed in terms of the added value of the information it would generate and weighed against the value of the research output that would be foregone.

From the beginning, Centers have been primarily led by their director. The situation has not changed much over the years or across Centers. What has changed is the role played by Center boards.

The initial Center boards saw themselves more as advisors to the director than as policy- and decision-making bodies overseeing Center operations and the director. It took over 10 years for the system to clarify boards’ roles, responsibilities and accountability. . . . CGIAR Center boards gradually transformed themselves from advisory bodies into governing boards with full fiduciary and other responsibilities appropriate for autonomous institutions.

In terms of value for money, the CGIAR has been one of the best investments for international development over the past 40 years. Over this period the donor community invested close to $11 billion in research through the CGIAR. This is equal to the annual economic benefit of CGIAR research on just rice on only one continent, Asia. A study in 2003 considered how the world would look today without CGIAR research, and eliminating CGIAR work on crop improvement alone has developing countries producing 7–8% less food and 13–15 million more children malnourished.

Investment in the CGIAR reflected the confidence that the donor community had on the potential of scientific research to address issues of food security and environmental sustainability in developing countries. It was also a bet on the potential of an innovative institutional model. At the core of this institutional experiment was the belief that science should be left to scientists, and scientists left as little encumbered as possible. Research institutes were set up as autonomous, self-governing entities—the only legal bodies in the system. The donor group maintained itself as a loose informal assembly, advised by TAC and granting each donor the freedom to allocate its resources to Centers and their programs as they pleased.

The New CGIAR presents a much-needed revolutionary change in the CGIAR. It is too early to tell whether or not this new model will succeed. Perhaps its most positive aspect is that, like the founders of the original CGIAR, it maintains protecting the independence of the scientist as a core principle and stiffens the new programmatic thrust on the backbone of the scientific network that has evolved over 40 years. These are the most valuable global assets that have been built and nurtured under the CGIAR umbrella over the past 4 decades.

The New CGIAR model faces a number of serious challenges. First among them is perhaps uncertainty about how donors will respond to harmonization. If contributions to the unrestricted windows 1 and 2 of the CGIAR Fund remain low, the system could continue to experience the same ills as it did under the old CGIAR when the ratio of unrestricted to restricted funding fell to 30:70. Another hurdle is the bureaucratization and formalism that will undoubtedly accompany the new form of results-based contractual relationships for CRPs between the Fund and the Consortium, the Consortium and the lead Center, and the lead Center and its partnering institutions. A third unknown is how the relationship between the Consortium and the Centers will evolve over time, especially regarding oversight and accountability. This is a new institutional experiment, in which the Consortium reports to the Centers, as it is their creation, while it controls the flow of funds from the CGIAR Fund to the Centers, and thus has some limited authority over the Centers.

The story of the CGIAR’s evolution over the past 40 years reflects evolution in thinking on international development, as well as evolution in science, science management and partnerships. The legacy of the CGIAR is as much in the impacts of the research it financed as it is on the scientific institutions and networks it has created. These are robust global, regional and national assets that have the potential to serve the global community for many years to come.

Read more about the CGIAR Fund and CGIAR Consortium.

Read about the author, Selçuk Özgediz.

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