The Independent Steering Committee (ISC)

The Independent Steering Committee (ISC) actively oversees the overall portfolio of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) to ensure coherence with the strategic direction proposed by the FTA Director. It strives for a balance in gender, discipline and geographic representation.

The ISC operates by consensus. When it cannot reach a consensus in a matter the decision lies with the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Lead Center, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), because of its overall fiduciary responsibility.

Responsibilities of the ISC

A key role of the ISC is to assess the performance of the program, the participating centers, and the FTA Director, based on traffic light reports and annual reports, and conduct other reviews against work plans.

It is also in charge of proposing the yearly funding allocation across the participating institutions. This is based on recommendations of the management team and the committee’s own assessment of partners’ performance. This goes hand in hand with facilitating agreement among FTA partners on equitable mechanisms, processes and decision criteria for these funding allocations.

The Committee can also review the participating partners and can advise the Board of the Lead Center on changes, based on FTA’s own performance criteria.

Further roles include

  • Approve the annual Program of Work and Budget prepared by the management team based on inputs provided by the flagships and crosscutting themes. Once agreement is reached, the ISC proposes its approval to the Lead Center BoT.
  • Commission and approve FTA’s management response to external reviews.
  • Provide guidance to the management team on how to develop and update the FTA research strategy and programmatic priorities.
  • Ensure that advice and direction from the Consortium Board, Fund Council and Independent Science & Partnership Council are considered in FTA planning and implementation.
  • Work with the Director General of the Lead Center to design and implement a transparent recruitment process for the FTA Director.


The Committee consists of eight members: three of them represent the strategic participating partner institutions, four are independent and the Director who is ex-officio, i.e. has no voting rights. The majority of independent voting members ensures that FTA can benefit from the advice and views of individuals with no institutional bias and with only FTA’s best interests at heart.

Independent members are internationally renowned individuals who are respected for their professional expertise in fields relevant to FTA.

The Chair is chosen among the independent members, nominated by the ISC and appointed by the Lead Center BoT for a 2-year fixed term, renewable once. He/She reports to the BoT of the Lead Center.

Selection process

ISC members are

  • selected in their individual capacity and do not have a conflict of interest (see Conflict of Interest policy here) in being a ISC member, i.e. they do not represent or work for any of the institutions involved in the FTA partnership);
  • short-listed by the FTA director following nominations from current ISC members; the short list is discussed by the ISC and selected members are proposed by the ISC to the Lead Center BoT;
  • appointed by the Lead Center BoT for a fixed term of two years) which is renewable once.

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