Bioversity International and CIAT advance in building an Alliance

Bioversity International and CIAT advance in building an Alliance

Communiqué n.3 - Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) advance in building an Alliance for sustainable, productive, resilient and diversified food systems and landscapes. 


Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) are moving expeditiously toward an Alliance with a single mission and strategy that will guide a unified research-for-development agenda and wideranging partnerships to deliver benefits to millions of farmers and consumers. The Alliance will develop and deploy evidence-based solutions to safeguard agricultural biodiversity, produce food in the face of climate change, and reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture, increasing prosperity, improving health and nutrition, and sustaining the planet. Combining the strengths and comparative advantages of Bioversity International and CIAT, the Alliance is designing a strategic research program in support of the Sustainable Development Goals, Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Paris Agreement, and Bonn Challenge, among other international objectives.

  • The Alliance will develop transformative innovations with research, development and outreach partners, in response to demands from beneficiaries, and work with the public and private sectors to deliver those innovations at scale 
  • The Alliance will appoint one Chief Executive Officer under the direction of a single Board of Trustees to ensure that the two Centres function and deliver as one.
  • The Alliance will improve collaboration, gain operational efficiencies, and enhance its effectiveness and impact by unifying the governance and the leadership of research, management and administration.

In September, the two Centres took a significant step towards building the Alliance’s research-for-development agenda. The scientific leadership of Bioversity International and CIAT met in Bonn, Germany, thanks to the support of the German development agency GIZ, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the CGIAR System Management Office. Fifty researchers identified a wide range of areas of synergy and complementarity that capitalize on the expertise of both Centres, including the conservation and use of plant genetic resources; food systems for healthy and safe diets; integrated seed systems; crop genetic improvement; landscape restoration; sustainable intensification and diversification of farming systems; pest and disease management; agricultural risk management; digital agriculture; as well as a rapid-response policy advisory services mechanism. These initial ideas will be reviewed, prioritized and developed for inclusion in the strategic programme of the Alliance. The researchers also identified several exciting opportunities to collaborate immediately. The positive results of the Bonn meeting and the growing spirit of working together as a seamless team are crucial to inform ongoing efforts in the Alliance building process, which include:

  • Regular meetings of the Joint Working Group, consisting of the Board Chairs and Director Generals of Bioversity International and CIAT, as well as three members from each of the Boards of Trustees
  • A consultative process, involving a wide range of national and international partners, that will help inform the development of a fit-for-purpose, relevant and impactful strategic Alliance
  • A leadership retreat hosted by the Government of The Netherlands in October 2018 to shape the vision, mission, unique value propositions and principles of engagement for the Alliance 
  • A committee comprising representatives from both Boards of Trustees to select the new Director General of Bioversity International, who will also be the Chief Executive Officer-designate of the Alliance
  • A joint session of the two Boards of Trustees, hosted by the World Bank in Washington DC in late November, 2018. The joint Boards will inter alia appoint the Director General of Bioversity International who will take on the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance in early 2020.

For further information, please contact Ann Tutwiler (Bioversity International) or Ruben Echeverría (CIAT).


Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Chair, Bioversity International Board of Trustees

Geoffrey Hawtin, Chair, CIAT Board of Trustees