Bioversity International and CIAT implement a roadmap to make the Alliance operative

Bioversity International and CIAT implement a roadmap to make the Alliance operative

Communiqué n.6 – Bioversity International and CIAT advance in establishing an Alliance to deliver research-based solutions to the biggest challenges facing our world: malnutrition in all its forms; climate change adaptation and mitigation; declining agricultural biodiversity; rural employment and environmentally unsustainable food and agricultural systems.

Implementation of an ambitious roadmap is underway to operationalize the Alliance from January 2020. The main components include finalizing a research strategy and results framework; and aligning and harmonizing operations and procedures to reduce transaction costs, and increase effectiveness and impact. Both the strategy and new organizational model are being rolled out through a managed process. This roadmap builds on progress achieved in 2018, including reaching agreement on the vision, mission and strategic objectives1 for the Alliance, developing a preliminary collaborative research agenda, and holding the first joint Boards of Trustees meeting. Actions to constitute a single Board of Trustees, make joint appointments, and develop collaborative projects are moving apace.

In March, Juan Lucas Restrepo took over as Director General (DG) of Bioversity International and CEO-designate of the Alliance, based in Rome, marking a decisive step on the way to consolidating the Alliance. Upon his arrival, Restrepo commented, "I'm delighted to join Bioversity International at such a momentous juncture and to work with CIAT’s DG, Ruben Echeverría, on the creation of the Alliance." Echeverría complemented by noting that, “bringing both Centers together will create significant synergies to meet the demand for evidence-based solutions that contribute to CGIAR’s business plan, the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals, and above all to achieve more impact." Echeverría steps down as DG of CIAT at the end of 2019, while Restrepo will become CEO of the Alliance in January 2020 with one Board of Trustees, one strategy and results framework, and one business plan, including harmonization of all staff services.

Restrepo and Echeverría are leading the implementation of the roadmap, with oversight from the two Boards, which embraces three inter-related and complementary work-streams: joint strategy and results framework; operational alignment; and the change management process to rollout the new strategy and organizational model.

The strategy development work-stream is focused on developing a high-impact research-for-development agenda, and new options for business models and partnerships to deliver transformative solutions in the countries where the Alliance works. Our scientists, partners, and investors, along with external thought leaders, are taking part in this key exercise, facilitated by an external expert. Results will serve as input to a strategic planning workshop with staff and stakeholders scheduled for this July in Cali, Colombia. Write up, synthesis and broad internal and external validation of the strategy and results framework will follow from September to October 2019.

The operational alignment work-stream, also externally facilitated, is drawing on staff experience, expertise and ideas to assess organizational strengths and identify best practices. These will be benchmarked against other organizations. This work-stream will result in new or improved structures and processes toward an efficient and cost-effective operating model.

The change management work-stream will support the development, coordination and execution of the overall change management process. For this, a Change Manager will work with the leadership of the Alliance and an internal Change Management Team to lead a gradual and organized transition over the next 12 to 24 months into a new way of working and delivering under the Alliance.

The second joint Board of Trustees meeting scheduled to take place on 22-23 May in Rome will review progress of each work stream, while the third joint Board of Trustees meeting in November in Cali will approve the Alliance’s strategy, results framework, and the new organizational structure and operating model.

Meantime, both Centers continue to act in the spirit of the Alliance. A joint Governance Committee has been established to provide advice to the Boards of Trustees of Bioversity and CIAT on effective governance, and ensure legal and ethical compliance in all aspects of the Alliance. Bioversity and CIAT scientists have also been working together on proposals to funders for projects on issues such as nutritional deficiencies, reducing the contributions of agriculture to climate change, and improving capacity of government agencies to procure nutritious and climate-resilient crops from smallholder farmers. A communications campaign, 'Celebrating Women in Science,' was launched to showcase the women that work at both Centers. In addition, key joint positions, such as a Global Talent Manager, have been hired through collaborative recruitment processes and are contributing to the Alliance building process.

For further information about the Alliance process, please contact Juan Lucas Restrepo (Bioversity International) or Ruben Echeverría (CIAT).


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

Geoffrey Hawtin, Chair, CIAT Board of Trustees

Vision: Food systems and landscapes that sustain the planet, drive prosperity, and nourish people
Mission: We deliver research-based solutions that harness agricultural biodiversity and sustainably transform food systems to improve people’s lives

Strategic objectives:
1. People consume diverse, nutritious and safe foods
2. People participate in and benefit from inclusive, innovative and diversified agri-food markets
3. People sustainably manage farms, forests and landscapes that are productive and resilient to climate change
4. Communities and institutions sustainably use and safeguard agricultural biodiversity.