CGIAR Open letter to the UN General Assembly

Co-advancement of Agricultural and Natural Resource Management within the SDGs


The 17 global goals which you have supported the creation of are an unrivalled span of human aspiration covering everything from sharing prosperity, to protecting the planet, to promoting a more peaceful world. The commitments, resources and accountability that you have offered in support are tremendous, and have helped to fill a huge political gap by acting collectively.

Reducing rural poverty, ensuring food and nutrition security, and improving natural resource systems are key dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are also the shared strategic goals of the 15 Centres of the CGIAR. Together we stand ready to engage and be accountable for our contributions to the entire SDG ambition, and specifically to: SDG1 (Poverty), SDG2 (Food Security and Nutrition), SDG6 (Water), SDG7 (Sustainable Energy), SDG13 (Climate Change), and SDG15 (Land Use).


The collective of 15 CGIAR Centres is more than 40 years old and works in over 70 developing countries through extensive partnership networks. Its 12,000 staff focus on delivering actionable knowledge, robust evidence for policy and investment decisions, and capacity development for, inter alia: sustainable agriculture practices, rural livelihood improvements, improved crop varieties, biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and sustainable management of landscapes.


We have aligned our new strategies with the SDGs and we offer realistic impacts by 2030 of: (i) improved varieties and management practices for 350 million smallholder farmers; (ii) 500 million people, of which at least 50% women, no longer suffering nutritional deficiency; (iii) 100 million people lifted out of and staying out of poverty; (iv) reduction of GHG emissions from agriculture by 0.8 Gt per year; and (v) restoration of 190 million ha of degraded land. No other group of organisations combines advances in agriculture development and natural resource management better, or more comprehensively, than the CGIAR Centres.


A key to successfully achieving the SDGs will be sufficient means of implementation. Here the CGIAR Centres are concerned by the fluctuating recognition of coupled research and development endeavours in priorities and financial commitments. Accordingly, at the 70th UN General Assembly in New York next week we call on world leaders and key development actors to recognize and document their appreciation for the importance of groups such as the collective of CGIAR Centres. Furthermore, to incorporate new commitments and continued support up to and beyond 2030 for advancing our innovative programmes in alignment with, and strongly contributing to, the SDG ambition.


Our two main questions for you are: (1) can we include you along with other countries and key actors as champions of the co-advancement of agriculture and natural resource management?; and (2) which agencies in your country should we more actively engage with in this co-advancement? Please respond with answers or any further information required either directly to any of the signatories of this letter or centrally to the CGIAR Centre Representative (CentreRep@CGIAR.ORG).


If we had all the knowledge, technology and capacity we needed then we would not need coupled research and development endeavours. We remain at your service to help combine the science of discovery with the science of delivery of positive agriculture and natural resource management impacts



Yours sincerely,


Ann Tutwiler, Director General, Bioversity, Italy

Barbara Wells, Director General, CIP, Peru

Beth Woods, Board Chair, Worldfish, Malaysia

Bruce Coulman, Board Chair, IITA, Nigeria

Camilla Toulmin, Board Chair, ICARDA, Lebanon

Chandra Madramootoo, Board Chair, ICRISAT, India

Christian Samper, Board Chair, Bioversity, Italy

David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, India

Don Blackmore, Board Chair, IWMI, Sri Lanka

Emerlinda Roman, Board Chair, IRRI, Philippines

Geoff Hawtin, Board Chair, CIAT, Colombia

Harold Roy-Macauley, Director General, Africa Rice, Cote d’Ivoire

Jeremy Bird, Director General, IWMI, Sri Lanka

Jimmy Smith, Director General, ILRI, Kenya

John Hudson, Board Chair, CIFOR, Indonesia

John Lynam, Board Chair, ICRAF, Kenya

John Snape, Board Chair, CIMMYT, Mexico

Kym Anderson, Board Chair, IFPRI, USA

Lindiwe Sibanda, Board Chair, ILRI, Kenya 

Martin Kropff, Director General, CIMMYT, Mexico

Mahmoud Solh, Director General, ICARDA, Lebanon

Nteryana Sangina, Director General, IITA, Nigeria

Peter Holmgren, Director General, CIFOR, Indonesia

Peter Matlon, Board Chair, Africa Rice, Cote d’Ivoire

Robert Zeigler, Director General, IRRI, Philippines

Rodney Cooke, Board Chair, CIP, Peru

Ruben Echeverria, Director General, CIAT, Colombia

Shenggen Fan, Director General, IFPRI, USA

Steve Hall, Director General, Worldfish, Malaysia

Tony Simons, Director General, ICRAF, Kenya