Dr Eliane Ubalijoro is the incoming CEO of CIFOR-ICRAF and Director General of ICRAF. This appointment makes her the first African woman CEO of a CGIAR Research Center in its 52-year history. Dr Ubalijoro is joining the organisation from her role as Executive Director of Sustainability in the Digital Age and Professor of Practice for public-private sector partnerships at McGill University‘s Institute for the Study of International Development.
Born in Rwanda and raised on three continents, Dr Ubalijoro knew from a young age that she wanted a career in service to the world. She earned a bachelor’s degree in general agriculture and a master’s and doctorate in molecular genetics from McGill University, where she studied improving productivity in agriculture. She started her working life as a scientific director in the biotechnology sector working in molecular diagnostics, later pivoting to focus on improving the lives of women and smallholder farmers in emerging countries.
Over her decades-long career, Dr Ubalijoro has been recognised for her work in nature conservation and food security. She is a recipient of the International Leadership Association‘s 2022 awards in women and leadership for outstanding practice with broad impact, and is part of the recent cohort of appointed International Science Council fellows in recognition for outstanding contributions to promoting science as a global public good.
Dr Ubalijoro is a member of: the Crop Trust Executive Board; the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) Special Policy Study on Post 2020: Global Biodiversity Conservation; the Impact Advisory Board of the Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet; Rwanda’s National Science and Technology Council; the Capitals Coalition Supervisory Board; the Expert Consultation Group on the Post COVID-19 Implications on Collaborative Governance of Genomics Research, Innovation, and Genetic Diversity; and the Advisory Board of ShEquity.
As the incoming CEO of CIFOR-ICRAF, Dr Ubalijoro is set to helm the leading research and development institution as it enters an ambitious era of growth to provide solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges, including biodiversity loss, climate change and inequality.
She will further develop the institution, defining its next steps and fostering talent. and bring greater global attention to trees, forestry, agroforestry, natural resource management, full landscape approaches, and broader conversations on Net Zero, climate change, and sustainable livelihoods.