By Joyce Ojanji

Dr. Eliane Ubalijoro has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of  Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) and Director General of ICRAF starting May 2023.

Born in Rwanda, 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.

She 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.

Over her decades-long career, Dr. Ubalijoro has been recognized for her work in nature conservation and food security. She is a recipient of the International Leadership Association‘s 2022 awards in women and leadership for outstanding practice with broad impact and is part of the recent cohort of appointed International Science Council fellows in recognition for outstanding contributions to promoting science as a global public good.

“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.

Dr. Eliane Ubalijoro
Photo credits: CIFOR-ICRAF

Dr. Robert Nasi, who is the acting CEO for CIFOR-ICRAF, and a global forestry scientist will take up the position of Chief Operating Officer.

“This appointment marks a new era for CIFOR-ICRAF. 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,’’ Nasi said.

The CIFOR-ICRAF Board Chair, Doris Capistrano noted that the organization 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 organizations through the merger.

CIFOR-ICRAF is the world’s leader in 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 organization 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.