CIFOR–ICRAF 2020–2030 strategy

CIFOR–ICRAF addresses local challenges and opportunities while providing solutions to global problems for forests, landscapes, people and the planet.

CIFOR–ICRAF delivers actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

Our strategy is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have provided a global framework for development for the next 10 years, as well as with the findings of recent United Nations reports on climate change and biodiversity.

Merged since 2019, CIFOR–ICRAF is uniquely equipped to deliver transformative science. We combine the diverse skills of our more than 700 staff and our long-established partnerships to support a whole-landscape mandate: agricultural lands, intact forest and everything in between. Our innovative digital platforms and engagement strategy ensures the latest knowledge is shared widely with our partners and stakeholders.

Our integrated strategy

Our mission is to contribute to a radical transformation in food production and land use systems. This encompasses agricultural practice and how biodiversity, forests and lands are managed. Our focus is on contributing to a decisive shift in global trajectories: from a future of environmental destruction and livelihood crises to a future of prosperity and planetary health. This strategy reflects the confidence we feel in the relevance of our approach, and the urgency to step up and support the rapid and radical transformation that is so badly needed.

CIFOR–ICRAF’s transformative agenda

CIFOR–ICRAF generates evidence to unlock the potential of forests and trees to help combat climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation – and sustain many rural livelihoods.

This requires work across all of the following themes:

Restoration of landscapes and dependent livelihood systems – working with local people to restore their landscapes so that they meet their present and future needs.

Value chains and trade – helping to build inclusive value chains and show how sound business practices can help farmers prosper while minimizing negative impacts on the environment.

Sustainable and resilient landscapes – generating evidence that supports the rights and interests of those who live in agricultural and forest landscapes.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation – bringing the latest science on the ways forests and trees can both slow global heating and help people adapt to its effects.

Supporting policies and governance that work – providing informed, trusted evidence for policies on climate, food, forest, agroforestry, land use and tenure.

Gender, equity and rights – weaving research-based knowledge on gender equality and social inclusion into all of our activities.

The CIFOR–ICRAF approach

As a research organization that supports development, our mission is to deliver solutions through evidence, technologies and advisory services. We have a unique way of doing things, which includes our approach to research and partnerships, and our organizational structure.

Transformative partnerships – From South–South collaborations to trusted relationships with civil society and subnational and national governments, our long-established presence ‘on the ground’ – supported by in-country offices where our presence is needed most – enables us to inform policy change, strengthen capacities, and support policy implementation.

Systems perspective – With our expertise in the social and biophysical sciences, we are up to the challenge of implementing a systems approach, which recognizes that interdependent problems cannot be dealt with one-by-one, but need solutions that work at multiple spatial and temporal scales.

Relevant and actionable solutions – Recognizing that our partners need pragmatic solutions, we design our research solutions with the people who count most: farming and forest dependent communities, value chain actors, and policy and decision makers. Through collaborative processes of development and mutual learning around adaptive solutions, we achieve contextual relevance, delivering solutions that can lead to action on the ground.

Knowledge-led digital engagement – By 2023, two thirds of the global population will have internet access and 70 percent will have mobile connectivity. We are transforming leading scientific exploration and direct experience in landscapes, together with finance and governance, into living knowledge that addresses the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.


Our operations in more than 20 countries are now supported by a dynamic new governance and management structure:

  • A common CIFOR–ICRAF Board of Trustees, an integrated leadership team and a jointly constituted research division. The latter consists of the Directorate of Science (with thematic focus and regional representation) and the Directorate of Innovation and Impact (focused on supporting the acceleration of impacts).
  • Combined communications, partnerships and resource mobilization functions directly support the research division. All is underpinned by a streamlined Directorate of Corporate Services.

CIFOR–ICRAF is poised to join an intensified global effort to achieve the transformative change so urgently needed by people and planet.

New elements in our strategy

While projects continue to be our principal organizational and contractual way of working with partners and stakeholders, we have introduced three innovations that will deliver timely, relevant change in response to global and national challenges and opportunities.

Transformative Partnership Platforms

Experience has taught us that research-for-development must address the complexity of the interaction between people and ecological systems – an interconnectedness recently highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Transformative Partnership Platforms (TPPs) meet this need.

TPPs are alliances: each focused on one critically important issue that will deliver a specific transformational result by a certain date. TPP members collaborate to generate solutions through understanding problems, data collection, analysis and model development.

We are already assessing the potential for TPPs on agroecology, nutriscapes, rainfed agriculture, tree planting quality, transformative restoration, landscape health, circular bioeconomy and biomass, climate change and REDD+, and green tree-crop commodity value chains.

Engagement Landscapes

Engagement Landscapes (ELs) are geographic locations where we carry out concentrated, long-term work to support transformational change and enhance resilience. They share many characteristics of TPPs, but differ in this context-specific focus. In ELs, we engage with local stakeholders and work with them and others to develop solutions that work.

Examples of landscapes where we have long-term engagement include Brazil’s Pará State, Peru’s San Martín Province, Ethiopia’s Oromia Region, drylands in Asia, the people-agriculture-forest nexus in the Miombo woodlands, refugee-hosting landscapes in central and eastern Africa, cocoa landscapes in Central Africa, and the FORETS (Formation Recherche Environnement dans la Tshopo) initiative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among others.

Flagship Products

Flagship Products (FPs) provide insights into key global issues: enhancing visibility, improving understanding and generating actionable knowledge. FPs are based on the latest knowledge, large-scale datasets, analysis and advanced models to inform decision-making and are developed in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders.

Now in its seventh year, our flagship product the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) continues on its path to spark a movement of one billion people around productive, prosperous, equitable and resilient landscapes. The GLF has reached more than 700 million people from 185 countries, making it the world’s largest knowledge forum on integrated and sustainable land use. It continues to break new ground with digital conferences and GLFx – a global network of local chapters connecting online in dedicated communities of practice to take direct action at a local level.

Other FPs include the Sahel Observatory, the Africa Tree Portal, the Global Observatory of Landscape Resilience, Evidence for Resilient Agriculture, GAMA, COSAM and the community monitoring tool for restoration.

CIFOR–ICRAF merger: Accelerating impact for a sustainable world

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) are the world’s leading research and development organizations focused on forestry and agroforestry. On 1 January, 2019, we effectively merged.

Together we provide the research, policy development and bespoke solutions needed to help forward-thinking countries, communities and companies improve land management, livelihoods, sustainability and resiliency.

We live in a world of escalating, complex challenges

It is increasingly clear that inclusive, science-based solutions are essential to address complex environmental and social challenges arising out of the climate crisis, land degradation, large-scale migration and demographic change, food security and the need for good jobs, to name just a few. Ecosystems around the world are under strain. Forests and agriculture alone cover two-thirds of the global land area, provide more than 95 percent of all human food, and create employment for more than half of all adults.

Deforestation, land degradation, depletion of the planet’s natural capital, the climate crisis, social disruption and inequality are ubiquitous and interconnected problems that the world has failed to adequately address. In the face of these challenges, we urgently need to better connect equitable prosperity and ecosystem resilience with sustainable landscapes.

The global community will need to spend trillions of dollars on innovations and on investments in land restoration and climate adaptation over the coming decades to meet these escalating demands for improved resilience and greater productivity. This is essential if we are to reverse the dangerous degradation of the world’s landscapes.

We provide an integrated approach from the heart of the forest to the edge of the field

Our combined expertise brings together the essential science-based policy advice with practical project implementation and analysis that leverages 65 years of experience and $1.8 billion in research investments.

A combined CIFOR-ICRAF possesses the scale and expertise required to address the knowledge gaps in such relevant fields as land restoration and productivity investments. At the same time, CIFOR-ICRAF is also providing the evidence needed to form a base case for investments in increased ecosystem resilience. In fact, our combined research and development work in dozens of countries throughout the global south ranges from the natural science of landscapes, soils and trees, to value chains, gender and livelihoods, to policy proposals related to all of these fields.

CIFOR-ICRAF offers policy makers, the private sector and communities a more integrated and comprehensive approach to what is a challenging array of problems; and to finding solutions to these problems.

We understand that fragmented and inadequate approaches have failed to address these problems adequately in the past. But it’s not too late. Together, our institutional experience and knowledge provide the depth and breadth of experience that is essential if we are to tackle these critical, global challenges.

We share a history of cooperation and impact

ICRAF and CIFOR have been working together for a quarter century, cooperating on research projects, co-publishing papers and as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). This is the world’s largest research-for-development initiative aimed at enhancing the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security, and addressing climate change. Together, the two research centers have co-published scientific articles and worked together in over 40 countries to provide the scientific foundations for policy to improve the lives of those relying on forests and landscapes for their well-being. The Centers’ work is referenced more than 2,000 times annually by major outlets including The New York Times, Reuters and The Guardian.

We remain committed to our current agreements, programs and projects

A cornerstone of our merger agreement is the continued dedication to our existing commitments and contracts to ensure delivery of the public goods the organizations’ donors and stakeholders, including our host countries, desire and expect.

Similarly, all payment systems and due diligence processes remain, and both Centers will continue to honor their obligations, maintain the same financial relationships and be able to enter contracts in the usual manner.

Our relationship with CGIAR remains strong

CIFOR–ICRAF remain members in good standing and continue to be guided by the broad development challenges pursued by CGIAR – a global research partnership for a food-secure future – including poverty reduction, increasing food and nutritional security, and improved natural resource systems and environmental services.

About our leadership

We are governed by a Common Board possessing diverse skills in areas such as agroforestry and forestry science, natural resources management, audit, finance and risk management, policy and governance.

The Common Board of Trustees’ primary mandate is providing governance oversight to ensure ICRAF, CIFOR and the CIFOR-ICRAF effective merger function to the highest standard to execute their mission. In order to do this effectively, the Common Board of Trustees has delegated the day-to-day management of the Centers to the Directors General, who are assisted by senior managements teams that are actively working towards a single leadership team and unified policies, processes and systems.

Some facts and figures

CIFOR–ICRAF has an annual budget of over USD 100 million and employs about 700 people in more than 20 countries throughout the Global South. We will continue to maintain our headquarters in Indonesia and Kenya, respectively. The strong relationships with our host countries are critical and allow both organizations to continue operating as they have, with the networks they have and with the cooperation and support of important global tropical forestry and agroforestry countries.