It is a pleasure to welcome you to the website for the 4th Science Forum of the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC). The 2016 Science Forum (SF16) will be held from 12-14 April 2016 in Addis Ababa and co-hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to address the topic of: “Agricultural research for rural prosperity: rethinking the pathways”.
CGIAR research is dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources. It is carried out by 15 Centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium, in close collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations. The ISPC is a council of eminent scientific experts that advise CGIAR funders on strategic scientific issues, and help to strengthen the quality, relevance, and impact of science in the CGIAR.
The Science Forum series is a flagship event initiated by the ISPC in 2009 under its remit of Mobilizing Science for development through international dialogue on critical and emerging issues. The Forum aims to foster new partnerships that best complement expertise of the CGIAR and its partners on research initiatives and emerging issues. It serves to bring together scientists and scientific communities largely external to the CGIAR, but who have potentially important contributions to make to the CGIAR research portfolio, and members of the CGIAR community, including researchers, funders, and key implementation partners.
The Science Fora are not traditional science conferences and are designed as interactive meetings to stimulate provocative and productive dialogue. The plenary sessions raise the big questions and the main work is then carried out during breakout sessions, each focusing on a different aspect of the central theme. We publish summaries and briefs on the major outcomes but also seek to promote new perspectives presented at the meeting through publication of a special issue of a high-quality scientific journal. Selected papers presented at the last Science Forum held in September 2013 in Bonn on “Nutrition and health outcomes: targets for agricultural research” were recently published in a special section of Food Security entitled “Strengthening the links between nutrition and health outcomes and agricultural research”.
Science Forum 2016 focuses on the contribution of agriculture to reducing poverty. A Steering Committee has been helping to plan the program and they have agreed that the overarching objective of SF16 should be to: “rethink the pathways for agricultural research to stimulate inclusive development of rural economies in an era of climate change. The Forum will marshal evidence and build on lessons learned to date, to suggest an updated list of priority research areas and approaches which involve more strategic and inclusive engagement with partners.” We already have acceptances from a number of speakers and will be updating the program online during the coming months.
This biennial CGIAR Science Forum will bring together a wide range of perspectives from scientists, practitioners, policymakers and funding agents, to redouble and refocus efforts to achieve this goal. Our aim will be to create an atmosphere where every participant will have the opportunity to meet someone new and be challenged through talks and discussion to think about agricultural research in a slightly different way. Research needs to change, to meet the complex challenges of the 21st century and in particular to become better at working between disciplines and sectors.
Due to the nature of the event as a discussion forum, there are limitations on the number of participants for the whole meeting (including the Breakout sessions, although there is more space for the plenary sessions). We would therefore request you/your colleagues to register online at https://scienceforum2016.org/register and would also appreciate your help in publicizing and bringing attention to this event. A Knowledge Share Fair will also be organized, an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and centres to share ideas, concepts, projects or outcomes related to the focus of the Forum (instructions on how to participate will be posted shortly on the website). Motivated early career scientists interested in receiving ISPC support to participate in the Forum are invited to fill in a form on the website (https://scienceforum2016.org/early-career-scientists/) and submit abstracts for consideration.
We look forward to a lively and interesting exchange that will inform and guide the future direction of the CGIAR and its partners in knowledge and discovery.