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Home > Blogs > Director's Blog > Telling a Story of Change and Emotion

Nine years ago, nineteen research and development institutions established one of the most comprehensive investments in the world on water, food and environment research for development. Today their vision has taken root and continues to grow.

Alain Vidal The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) has carried out more than 100 projects in collaboration with over 400 partner organizations, from community-based NGOs to cutting edge international research institutes.  We have helped to put issues related to water and food at the center of international debates on climate change, poverty reduction, greening the economy and sustainable natural resource management.

CPWF has proven to be resilient over the last nine years. Despite the difficulties of a cash flow crisis and uncertainty regarding our place within CGIAR reform, CPWF is thriving.  Our basin research that targets priority development challenges is a winning strategy. By taking a problem-solving approach we have ensured accountability to our stakeholders and partners. It was seen throughout the Third International Forum on Water and Food (IFWF3) that projects are realizing the importance of cross-basin exchanges and are participating in the CPWF Topic Working Groups.

The objectives of the Forum were to share lessons across our six unique basin programs, assess progress to date and ensure our research is having an impact on the key challenges related to poverty reduction, food security and environmental security. I am thrilled to say we have achieved these objectives. I can honestly say that I think we went further in this Forum than the previous two.

Our research is pushing the limits of the research-for-development approach in terms of how we are organized and focused. However, this Forum also highlighted some challenges, including the need for CPWF to develop solid evidence about its impacts on household livelihoods and food security.

Throughout the four days of the Forum, using the great African tradition of storytelling, we discovered a fascinating cast of characters who are making a real difference as they tackle the major food and water challenges of our age.

One story that resonated with me this week was not about the technical aspects or the models we are testing out. One participant urged us to remember that enabling change deals with people’s emotions: their fears and hopes. This is essential to consider when designing solutions that enable change for people.

My appeal to everybody at the Forum, and their communities, is to remain active participants and help us define how we can build a more resilient and brilliant future for the people in our basins and beyond. We look forward to working with you all in future.

Alain Vidal, CPWF Director