CIFOR-ICRAF appoints First African woman CEO of a CGIAR Research Center

(Nairobi, 17 January 2023) – The Board of Trustees for the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) is very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Eliane Ubalijoro as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CIFOR-ICRAF and Director General of ICRAF. Ubalijoro will be the first African woman Director General of a CGIAR Research Center and CEO of two Centers in CGIAR’s 52-year history.

Born in Rwanda, Ubalijoro is the Executive Director of Sustainability in the Digital Age, and Professor of Practice for public-private sector partnerships at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development. Over the past two decades, her research has focused on innovation, gender, and sustainable development.

“I see CIFOR-ICRAF as a critical institution, poised to accelerate its research and impact, leading the way to achieving the 2030 goals by harnessing the potential of forestry and agroforestry to create ecosystems that generate prosperity, sustainably,” said Ubalijoro. She is interested in combining CIFOR-ICRAF’s wealth of knowledge in forestry, ecology and sustainable agriculture with the transparency that high-resolution satellite data and artificial intelligence can bring to connect with work that aims to increase biodiversity worldwide and ensure transparency in terms of carbon sequestration.

Alongside Ubalijoro’s appointment starting May 2023, Dr Robert Nasi – CIFOR-ICRAF’s acting CEO – will take up the position of Chief Operating Officer. Nasi is a globally recognised forestry scientist who has been researching the ecology and management of tropical forests for the past four decades, including the sustainable use of forest resources and the intersection of conservation and development.

“This appointment marks a new era for CIFOR-ICRAF,” said Nasi. “As the potential of trees and forests in addressing the climate, food and biodiversity crises becomes increasingly apparent, the new leadership team stands ready to take CIFOR-ICRAF into an ambitious era of growth to provide much-needed solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.”

CIFOR-ICRAF is the world’s leader on harnessing the power of trees, forests and agroforestry landscapes to address the most pressing global challenges of our time – biodiversity loss, climate change, food security, livelihoods and inequity.

It has partnerships in 64 countries, 159 funding partners and 192 active projects, alongside more than 2,200 completed projects across 92 nations. The organisation has an annual budget of USD 100 million, and a combined legacy investment of USD 2 billion in research and technology, policy and development. On average, CIFOR-ICRAF research is cited nearly 137 times a day, and appears in global media more than 3,000 times per year.

“CIFOR-ICRAF has never been better equipped than now, with the combination of Dr Ubalijoro’s wealth of experience in agricultural research, digital innovation and transformational leadership, and Dr Nasi’s deep knowledge of tropical forestry and exemplary success in guiding both organisations through the merger,” said CIFOR-ICRAF Board Chair Doris Capistrano. “We look forward to the new heights CIFOR-ICRAF will reach in its mission to address interconnected global challenges through the power of forests, trees and agroforestry.”

Azzura Lalani

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