IITA hosts One-Health kick-off webinar under CGIAR’s Two Degree Initiative

17 July 2020

As part of CGIAR’s Two Degree Initiative (2DI) for Food and Agriculture, CGIAR-IITA hosted a kick-off webinar on the “One-Health platform for climate-driven pests and diseases in West Africa” on 30 June. The One-Health platform is Regional Grand Challenge 1 (RGC1), one of eight grand challenges under the 2DI, which comes from a need to transform the food systems in the world.

Giving an overview of the initiative, Bruce Campbell, Program Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), highlighted the need to do things differently because it would be impossible to achieve the United Nations SDG-2 by 2030 using the current development research initiatives, especially against the backdrop of climate change. Increasing incidents of climate-related catastrophes are affecting the farming communities and, by extension, agricultural productivity. CCAFS, led by the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, put together the Two Degree Initiative.

One of the necessary changes Campbell spoke about is a transformation in the agricultural research-for-development community, which measures success in the number of publications rather than in societal impact. He said, “This kind of system makes it extremely difficult to deliver end-to-end sustainable and scalable solutions. So one of the transformations we see has to happen among ourselves.”

To change this, CGIAR has made tackling climate change a high-level objective of the entire CGIAR and a significant focus of its future research strategy. “The Two Degree Initiative is part of an attempt to do research-for-development differently, as ‘business unusual’,” Campbell said.

Changing the narrative of the research community would require a holistic approach to research and dissemination of solutions. The One-Health platform in West Africa is part of a multi-regional strategy focusing on ambitious targets with a global challenge to reach 500 million farmers in the next decade ultimately.

In his welcome remarks, IITA Board Chair Christian Borgemeister linked “One-Health” to climate change and the need to engage key stakeholders for an active partnership and synergies to address climate change holistically. He outlined the three objectives of the meeting:

  1. Getting the buy-in of critical regional and international stakeholders to the One-Health RGC1
  2. Identifying participants’ perspectives on significant pest and disease challenges in West Africa
  3. Getting participants’ advice as to how the One-Health RGC1 can add value to ongoing and planned initiatives under the four strategic priorities of RGC1

IITA, through its Biorisk Management Facility (BIMAF) in Benin, is leading the One-Health platform, which will support farmers in managing biorisks and climate-driven food-health risks. The RGC1-2DI core team consist of IITA and BIMAF staff: May-Guri Saethre, David Chikoye, Manuele Tamò, Ghislain Tepa-Yotto; the Executive Director of CORAF and Chair of the BIMAF- Independent Science Advisory Panel, Abdou Tenkouano; and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) representative and BIMAF member, Malick Ba. Other members of the core team are Bruce Campbell and representatives of the World Resources Institute (WRI), Rebecca Carter and Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio.

In a goodwill message, Dr Francoise Assogba Komlan, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries in the Republic of Benin, described One-Health as a holistic and inclusive concept, which integrates plant health and aligns completely with the vision and action plan of the Benin Government. “It proposes to address national and regional agricultural priorities, and aims to mitigate the risks induced by climate change to enhance food and nutritional security of smallholder farmers which represent the largest agricultural community,” she said.

Stakeholder organizations that attended the virtual meeting include the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation (Norad), and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO). Other partners represented were from the National Institute for Agricultural Research in Benin (INRAB), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), GIZ, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Department for International Development (DFID), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM).