It is my pleasure to confirm the launch of the UK-CGIAR Centre, for which CABI is proud to be acting as the Secretariat. CABI’s roles will involve relationship management with existing and prospective partners, communications support, project commissioning, as well as coordinating monitoring, evaluation, and reporting.
Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the UK-CGIAR Centre will support continued progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as aiding the UK’s ambition to “leverage wider UK expertise through the UK’s world-leading science, research and development base to tackle global problems”. The Centre will do this by building stronger ties between CGIAR, the world’s largest global agricultural innovation network, and leading UK scientific institutes.
The need for stronger, more dynamic global scientific partnerships could not be greater. Today’s world is facing an unprecedented food crisis, driven by a confluence of factors, including conflict, climate breakdown, extreme weather events, invasive species and economic shocks. Effective scientific collaboration will be pivotal to resolving this mounting challenge of food insecurity.
The UK has a rich history of partnering with CGIAR. Britain’s scientific community played a crucial role in the CGIAR’s founding in the early 1970s and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has funded the group regularly over the years. What’s more, UK institutes have a long track-record of partnering with CGIAR to produce impactful scientific research.
For instance, a partnership between the University of Leeds and CGIAR’s Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Systems programme helped develop models for crop uncertainty which heavily influenced research and policy agendas through the IPCC. In Ethiopia, an early warning system, developed by CIMMYT, the University of Cambridge, the UK Met Office, and Ethiopian partners, successfully alerted farmers in the country to an outbreak of wheat rust. Farmers were able to take preventative measures and the country achieved a significant wheat harvest in 2021.
While there are currently numerous partnerships between UK scientific institutes and CGIAR, they are dispersed and in need of greater focus. As a home to several world-leading scientific institutes, the UK is in a strong position to develop innovative solutions to the most pressing issues facing the world. The Centre will leverage the UK and CGIAR’s world-class research infrastructure and science and technology to deliver evidence-based solutions and impact-driven research.
Moving forwards, the UK-CGIAR Centre will be forging dynamic, new collaborations between CGIAR, UK science institutes and research centres in the Global South as well as galvanising existing partnerships. The UK-CGIAR Centre has already begun building partnerships to work on four areas:
- Confronting climate change and environmental degradation through sustainable crop management and climate-smart agronomic practices
- Crop genetic improvement for future climate resilience
- Enhancing nutrition
- Livestock improvement, animal health, nutrition and welfare
Scientists from leading UK research institutes and CGIAR will be working with local partners in regions that are high priorities for the FCDO, including in Africa and South Asia. The Centre wants these partnerships to stimulate locally-led innovation so that it has impact and leads to the creation of more resilient food systems.
We thank our donors, partners and other stakeholders for their ongoing support and look forward to continuing working in partnership to deliver on the UK-CGIAR’s mission.
Dr Richard Shaw