CIFOR and World Agroforestry merge

On January 1, 2019, two of the world’s leading organizations focused on forestry and agroforestry, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) effectively merged in order to provide the evidence and innovative solutions needed to scale up investment in sustainable development and address the global challenges of our time. Together, we expect to leverage our capacities for place-based research, policy development and bespoke solutions to help countries, communities and companies improve land management and livelihoods, sustainably and resiliently.


Why are we merging?
It is increasingly clear that inclusive, science-based solutions are essential to address complex environmental and social challenges arising out of climate change, land degradation, large scale migration and demographic change, food security and the need for good jobs, to name just a few. This calls for the kind of research that CIFOR and ICRAF conduct, but now for terrestrial landscapes to be viewed as integrated wholes from forests through farmlands to the edge of grasslands. The time for fragmented approaches has passed.

Working as one will allow us to leverage our combined $1.8 billion legacy investment in research, policy and development to capitalize on emerging opportunities with greater agility and further our contributions to the realization of ecosystem services needed to create the jobs and resilient green economies of the future.

The merger follows an extensive examination of key business cases, scenario analyses and consultations with various stakeholders, most importantly the host countries, to consider various options and with guidance on legal and financial matters.

Merging will help drive efficiencies and deliver greater value for money for our host countries, donors, partners and the women and men farmers (and other land resource users) who are our ultimate beneficiaries.

How large is the combined organization?
Together, CIFOR and ICRAF have a combined annual budget of $100+ million and employ about 700 people in 20 countries throughout the global South.

What is the history of CIFOR and ICRAF’s cooperation?
ICRAF and CIFOR have been working together for a quarter century, cooperating on research projects co-publishing papers and as part of the CGIAR’s Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) research program, the world’s largest research program on forests and agroforestry in sustainable development, food security and climate change. Together, the two research centers have co-published scientific articles and worked together in over 40 countries to provide the scientific foundations for policy to improve the lives of those relying on forests and landscapes for their well-being. The Centers’ work is referenced more than 2,000 times a year by outlets including The New York Times, Reuters and The Guardian.

Will the merger affect current agreements, programs and projects?
A cornerstone of our merger agreement is the continued dedication to our existing commitments and contracts to ensure delivery of the public goods the organizations’ donors and stakeholders, including our host countries, desire and expect.

Similarly, all payment systems and due diligence processes remain, and both Centers will continue to honor their obligations, maintain the same financial relationships and be able to enter contracts in the usual manner.

How will this impact the organizations’ program development and resource mobilization efforts?
In the face of a dynamic funding environment, a combined ICRAF and CIFOR will be better positioned to tap into the billions of dollars available from governments, foundations and the private sector to integrate landscapes and land management into sustainable policies, science and development research and programmes, and private investment. Further, our combined efforts will strengthen our ability to develop key innovations in finance and blended development, thereby accelerating the impact of our extensive science and development initiatives.

Will there be any change in the organizations’ relationship with CGIAR?
CIFOR and ICRAF will remain members in good standing and continue to be guided by the broad development challenges pursued by CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future, which include poverty reduction, increasing food and nutritional security, and improved natural resource systems and environmental services.

Each organization’s work will also continue to address many of the issues being tackled by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Climate Agreement and other global compacts, specifically those that aim to eradicate hunger, reduce poverty, provide affordable and clean energy, protect life on land and combat climate change. Indeed, we believe working together strengthens exponentially our ability to deliver on these commitments.

Where will the Centers be based?
CIFOR and ICRAF will continue to maintain their headquarters in Indonesia and Kenya, respectively. The strong relationships with our host countries are critical and allow both organizations to continue operating as they have, with the networks they have and with the cooperation and support of important global tropical forestry and agroforestry countries.

What are the next steps?
The merger became effective on January 1, 2019 with the establishment of a common Board formed of existing board members of both organizations. A new Executive Committee (ExCo) of the new Board has been formed comprised of members of the Executive Committees of the two Boards. The ExCo is charged with leading the development and implementation of governance matters, a single leadership team, unified policies, processes and systems over the next year.

The ExCo will be co-chaired by the organizations’ two existing Board Chairs, M Claire O’Connor and José Joaquín Campos Arce. ICRAF’s and CIFOR’s current Directors General, Tony Simons and Robert Nasi respectively, and government representatives of Kenya and Indonesia will continue as Ex Officio Members. In the interim, the Directors General will continue their leadership of their respective organizations, as well.

Is there a new name as a result of the merger?
The two organizations will continue to operate under their current names for the foreseeable future. New branding and identity of the combined entity is underway to complement the strong existing brands of CIFOR and ICRAF.