The International Agricultural Research Centers must take a longer term perspective on research. Longer term research planning by a center can only be done effectively if there is a vision for the center. In times of change, a well-articulated vision is also critical in order to provide guidelines for decision making and to avoid compromising long-term strategic needs and responsibilities in the face of immediate, external pressures.
In June 2002, with the endorsement of the Board of Trustees, CIP’s Director General mandated the Office of Research to carry out a CIP Vision Exercise. The CIP Vision Exercise was designed to take an extended look at the future and map out the programmatic content of the Center’s research and development activities in relation to the Center’s mission and the broader international development context in which it operates.
The outcome of the Vision Exercise is this Vision Statement, i.e. a roadmap of what development challenges CIP’s research should address. The Vision Statement will be utilized as the foundation for a strategic plan to tackle the questions of: where CIP’s research has the most potential to impact development; what specific research needs and opportunities exist in those target areas and populations; and how the research should be done, i.e. the articulation of conceptual, or theoretical, frameworks within which to conduct the research as well as how we organize ourselves to create and capture synergies that increase our research and development impact. These considerations extend to identifying core values and guiding principles for how we conduct our research. For example, the working group for integration of CGIAR and partner activities in Eastern and Southern Africa endorsed a set of core values as the basis for collaborative research efforts: commitment to farmers and other ultimate beneficiaries; multiple pathways to excellence accepted and recognized; commitment to capacity building for all scientists, irrespective of their institutional affiliation; cooperation amongst all partners; and shared credit and recognition. They proposed that guiding principles should include building incentives for enhanced cooperation, placing competence before resources, forging strategic alliances in full knowledge of what each partner does well and does not do well, and defining clear roles, responsibilities, time frames and expectations among partners.