Ismail Serageldin


From 1993-2000, Ismail Serageldin served as the 7th Chairman of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). CGIAR is the world’s largest ongoing cooperative effort to harness science for the promotion of sustainable agriculture for food security in the developing countries. It includes 58 members who finance an annual priority research agenda that is executed by 16 international agricultural research centers spread all over the world.

The CGIAR, which was founded in 1971, is governed by consensus and the Chairman has the responsibility to seek and articulate that consensus. When Serageldin became Chairman, he encountered financial crisis of great proportions, with the United States cutting its support and an under-funded priority agenda at $220 million. Morale was low, and there was concern throughout the system. Serageldin launched a major renewal program that saw the system reinvigorated, the number of developing country members tripled and the priority agenda more sharply focused. It is now funded at $340 Million annually. This was accompanied by significant restructuring of the system: the centers went from 18 to 16, and of those some were doubled in size and others were cut in half. Yet the morale of staff throughout the system became very high, the Center Board Chairs spoke very highly of Serageldin's leadership as do the Directors-General of the centers. His management skills have been particularly lauded.

The CGIAR is one of the best performing institutions in the world. It has been recently reviewed by a distinguished panel lead by Maurice Strong, involving luminaries like Bruce Alberts, President of the US National Academy of Sciences and M. S. Swaminathan of India. They concluded that it was the best use of development assistance money—bar none!




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