To advance, we retreated

January 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brainstorming sessions were freewheeling – but structured, to meet specific goals or targets

ICARDA scientists and management shared ideas during a 3-day ‘retreat’ held in Aleppo, 24-26 January. The retreat focused on the challenges and opportunities created by the ongoing CGIAR reform process and the new CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs). The aim was to identify gaps in ICARDA’s staffing, skills, processes and structure, and plan how to fill these gaps, in the ‘new’ CGIAR. The discussions were led by a team of facilitators: Dr Mohamed Zehni, former Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees; Dr Rodomiro Ortiz, who has help senior management positions at three CGIAR Centers; and Mr Nellooli Rajasekharan, Director, Human Resources.

ICARDA is the lead center for CRP 1.1, Integrated agricultural production systems for the poor and vulnerable in dry areas. It is also co-lead or member in eight other CRPs, working with a large number of partners. The discussions focused on the complexities of implementation, and covered a range of issues: research gaps, science quality, staffing needs,

Participants at the retreat included senior staff from headquarters as well as outreach offices

impact pathways, partnerships, resource mobilization… as well as administration, finance and reporting. In research, for example, the discussions helped prioritize research themes and target regions, and identify gaps in knowledge or capacity. Outputs from the retreat will now become a central part of management planning, and will help ensure that ICARDA’s research portfolio is clearly articulated, well targeted, and realistic.

“This was ICARDA at its best – vibrant, energetic, full of promise for the future,” Dr Zehni said. Summing up the meeting, Dr Solh noted: “The CGIAR system is at a crossroads. Given ICARDA’s track record – our staff, and our close ties with national programs in every partner country – I am confident we are well prepared for the challenges ahead.” “This is the start of a new journey,” said Dr Maarten van Ginkel, Deputy Director General, Research. “I am optimistic because we are building on a proud and successful past.”

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