Prashanth Vishwanathan/IWMI

WLE Legacy Symposium

November 30, 2021

The WLE Legacy Symposium celebrated the achievements and impacts of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) which closes following a ten-year journey in December 2021.  

The event highlighted the science-driven, practical innovations that WLE has generated to address critical climate challenges and advance the transition to more equitable, productive, sustainable and resilient food systems. It targeted a wide range of stakeholders – and aimed to inform future research, planning and investments.    

The program (see below) began with a presentation of key WLE solutions. The keynote speaker, Prof Olcay Unver, from Arizona State University, then placed WLE’s research in a broader context, connecting it to global debates around water, land and ecosystem sustainability. This was followed by a high-level panel discussion, some short personal reflections from people closely involved in the program, and concluding remarks that looked to the future.

Highlights from a decade of water, land and ecosystems research

Read about the outcomes of the event.


Clicking on the links will take you to the relevant point in the video recording.

14.00: Welcome by the Master of Ceremony, Marcela Quintero, CIAT/WLE.

14.05: Opening remarks by Dr Roberto Lenton, IWMI Board Chair.

14.10: Video showcasing WLE highlights and impacts over the past decade.

14.15: Keynote presentation by Prof. Olcay Unver, Arizona State University, former Deputy Director of the Land and Water Division, UN FAO, and a former member of WLE's Independent Steering Committee, 2014–2019. 

The presentation focused on current and future challenges for water, land and ecosystems in a changing climate.

14.30: Moderated Q&A with Prof. Olcay Unver, Ms Yvonne Tamba, ICRAF (youth representative) and Dr Stefan Uhlenbrook, WLE Program Director and IWMI.

Putting the video and keynote presentation into perspective.

14.45: High-level panel discussion: Building on WLE's legacy

Moderated by Ann Tutwiler, Chair of the WLE Independent Steering Committee, 2019–2021.

Panelists (contributions in italics):
  • H.E. Dr Seleshi Bekele, Chief Negotiator and Advisor on Transboundary Rivers and GERD, former Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Ethiopia (A country perspective: WLE's achievements in Ethiopia and future needs).

  • Dr Jo Swinnen, Global Director of Systems Transformation, CGIAR, and Director General of IFPRI (WLE's impact on the CGIAR 2030 research and innovation strategy).

  • Dr Dan Walker, CEO, ACIAR (Increasing food system outcomes through the integrated management of water, land and ecosystems).

  • Dr Claudia Ringler, WLE Deputy Program Director and IFPRI (On the role of research for development to advance water, energy and food systems sustainability and build resilience).

  • Dr Malu Ndavi, Lead Technical Specialist, Research and Impact Assessment Division, IFAD (A development finance perspective on translating WLE's research results into tangible outcomes).

  • Dr Ruben Echeverría, CoSAI Chair and former Director General of CIAT 2009–2019 (Feeding the future through sustainable intensification of agricultural production in water, land and ecosystems).

15.30: Reflections by:

  • Dr Andrew Noble, former WLE Program Director, 2012–2015.

  • Dr Nathanial Matthews, CEO of GRP, and former WLE Global Research Manager, 2014–2016.

  • Dr Kalifa Traore, Directeur de Recherche, IER, Bamako, Mali.

  • Dr Izabella Koziell, Deputy Director General, ICIMOD and former WLE Program Director, 2016–2021.

  • Pravin Parmar, Secretary of Dhundi Solar Pump Irrigators' Cooperative, Gujarat, India [video recording].

  • Michael Victor, Head of Communication and Knowledge Management, ILRI and former WLE Head of Communication, 2013–2017.

  • Jefferson Valencia, Alliance of Bioversity/CIAT, WLE early career scientist.

15.50: Closing remarks by Dr Mark Smith, Director General of IWMI (CGIAR Center that has led WLE for 10 years).

Download the program