CGIAR launches landmark project to radically transform ecosystem management by 2022

Today Tuesday 27 March 2012, the CGIAR has taken a bold step towards addressing the global issue of food security. It has launched a 10-year research program on water, land and ecosystems. The project, led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), will seek to radically transform the way land, water and natural systems are managed. The project launch has come at a time when scientists at the Planet Under Pressure Conference are debating ways of helping society assess the risks humanity is facing from global change.

The new research will not seek to start afresh on this bold journey. Instead, it will combine current solutions and success stories from the World Agroforestry Centre and other consortium partners to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor. “While we still have acute crises of hunger, ecosystem degradation and water scarcity in many areas, many of the solutions are already at hand,” said Dr Simon Cook the new director of the research program.

Some World Agroforestry Centre scientists who have been dealing with issues of water scarcity and ecosystem degradation as related to livelihoods are currently making presentations at the Planet Under Pressure conference.  The Centre’s Henry Neudfeldt says that the intentional use of trees in the cropping system has the potential to help farmers reduce their vulnerability to climate change. His recent research shows that farmers who engaged in agroforestry projects reported an improvement in their household’s general standard of living. He is doing a poster presentation on Reducing Subsistence Farmers’ Vulnerability: Evaluating the Potential Contributions of Agroforestry in Western Kenya.

CGIAR’s $75 million a year IWMI led project will focus on irrigation, rainfed agriculture, river basin management, resource reuse and recovery and information research. The new project will aim to solve management issues related to ecosystem management through many interrelated and interdependent approaches. As the director of the new program makes clear, such an overarching research program requires financial backing from private as well as bilateral investors.

“To get such investment, we must clarify the risks and benefits to poor farmers of increasing their yields and reducing their environmental footprints. So we have to look at all aspects of food supply chains in such a way that consumers, food companies, marketing groups and farmers can see the benefits of how better land and water management can increase the bottom line and bring environmental benefits. This is what the new program is designed to do.”

Access the CGIAR press release.'

Christopher Mesiku

Chris Mesiku is a science communicator volunteering at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. In the last 5 years, he has worked as a communicator for various scientific institutions. He holds a Bachelor of Science, Graduate Diploma in Science Communication (ANU) and a Masters in Philosophy of Science (UQ).

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