17 June 2015 – CABI held an open day for Executive Council representatives from our member countries today. 15 representatives from 14 member countries watched demonstrations of CABIs work in agriculture and the environment through a familiarization visit to CABIs UK Centre in Egham. The event showcased a wide range of CABIs work on invasive species, trade and commodities, mobile agriculture and plant science.
CABI works on behalf of 48 member countries who influence CABIs mission and direction and guide the activities CABI undertakes. This governance structure marries the interests of developed and less developed member countries.
Dr Trevor Nicholls, CABIs CEO, highlighted several examples of CABIs work, including the hugely successful Plantwise programme and projects that demonstrate CABIs core strength in plant, seed and soil health, human health and nutrition, mobile expertise, development know-how and technology transfer. He described CABI as a unique international organization, which has been transformed from a traditional, research-oriented Commonwealth institute (established in 1910) into a truly international, science-based development and information organization.
Dr Dick Shaw, Country Director of CABIs UK centre, provided an overview of resources, capabilities and strengths, which include the valuable microbial collection (housing a vial of Flemings Penicillin producing strain) and microbiology services, outstanding research on sustainable invasive species management, biopesticide development, and trade and commodities work. Dr Shaw also told Executive Council members about CABIs ambitious plans to promote Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and sustainable, biocontrol-based options to combat invasive species, which are displacing people and crops and massively impacting food security, livelihoods and health. CABI is also leading research efforts on damaging weeds like Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam.
Dr Elizabeth Dodsworth, Global Director of Knowledge Management, informed representatives of CABIs new Knowledge Business which integrates IT and Publishing. This sustainable business model serves traditional information markets, as well as supports CABIs broader development agenda. Dr Dodsworth provided examples of CABIs involvement in global initiatives, such as the development of a Global Agricultural Concept Scheme (a hub for thesauri in the agricultural field) in collaboration with the UNs Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the USs National Agricultural Library. CABI also hosts the global secretariat for Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), an initiative which was announced at the Open Government Partnership Conference in October 2013 following 2012 G8 discussions.
Dr Nicholls emphasized the importance of CABIs governance by member countries in shaping CABIs future directions, and expressed his gratitude to active engagement and input from many Executive Council members and in-country Liaison Officers. He noted that to align CABIs work more effectively with regional needs and strategic plans, CABI will hold three regional consultations (two in 2015 and one in 2016), and a Review Conference in 2016. Dr Nicholls expressed that he looks forward to developing even more productive and mutually beneficial partnerships with member countries.
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