Foreword: Joint message from the Director General and the Board Chair

Widespread heat waves, floods, and droughts last year were a strong reminder of the threats posed by climate change. In the non-tropical dry areas where ICARDA works we are becoming accustomed to record high temperatures and increasing water scarcity year on year – a new reality that requires innovative solutions to strengthen the resilience of rural communities.

Resilience and climate change adaptation are at the heart of ICARDA's new Strategic Plan 2017-2026 – a bold and ambitious effort to harness cutting-edge science and deliver the tools and technologies that smallholder farmers need to maintain agricultural production and protect their livelihoods.

The Strategic Plan's implementation last year saw ICARDA research activities aligned to five strategic priorities and four cross-cutting research themes (see the feature 'A new strategic direction for ICARDA' on page 2), complementing the national development priorities of the countries we work in, the wider Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda for 2030, and the CGIAR's Strategy and Results Framework 2016-2030.

Launched in the year when ICARDA celebrated its 40th anniversary, the new Strategic Plan builds on four decades of past achievements and successful partnerships. It is also demand driven and targets critical components of sustainable dryland food production systems, including climate-resilient crop and livestock varieties; proven agronomic practices that enhance the sustainable management of natural resources; viable value chains; and improved technology transfer strategies. The result: higher and more stable production, sustainable natural resource management, increased incomes, and food and nutritional security.

Last year, the Center's activities included the development and dissemination of heat-tolerant durum wheat varieties that are now thriving in land left fallow by rice farmers in the Senegal River Basin; new approaches to water harvesting in Jordan that combine indigenous knowledge and mechanization to enhance effectiveness; an initiative in Tunisia that is improving our knowledge of effective technology transfer strategies; and efforts to raise the productive capacity of women in post-conflict Afghanistan.

We also enhanced the safety and long-term preservation of our unique and globally important genetic resources, depositing seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and alongside the Crop Trust and CGIAR partners, contributing to a new global genebank infrastructure that protects the food and nutritional security of future generations.

Innovation, adaptation, and resilience are critical to the long-term viability of productive agriculture in dry areas. The bold and ambitious ideas driving our new strategic direction reflect this – and help us to learn from past experiences, anticipate future challenges, and deliver the tools that farmers and rural communities need to thrive.

Aly Abousabaa, Director General & Margret Thalwitz, Board Chair