Independent Steering Committee

The Independent Steering Committee (ISC) of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) is responsible for the oversight of the implementation of RTB. The committee guides management of the program for strategic results and recommends proposals, annual work plans, reports and budgets for approval by the Board of the International Potato Center, RTB’s lead center.

The committee currently comprises eight members. Five are independent members with competencies in gender, partnership, evaluation, and theory of change, as well as capacity strengthening and cutting-edge science. Independent members are appointed for three years, with possible reappointment for an additional three years.

The ISC includes the Director General (DG) of the lead center as a permanent member, a DG of another RTB participating center (on a rotating two-year appointment), a high-level scientist from CIRAD who represents French institutions CIRAD, IRD, INRA and Vitropic. Both DGs represent all partner CGIAR centers. The RTB Program Director is an ex-officio member.

The ISC chair and secretary are elected from among the independent members. The group meets in person once a year, with quarterly virtual meetings and the chair’s interim email updates.

Independent Steering Committee

Dunstan Spencer (Chair)

Independent Consultant, Agricultural Economist

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Maria Veronica Gottret (Secretary)

Senior Technical Advisor for Agriculture and Livelihoods Research

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Alison Bentley

Director of Genetics and Breeding at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) in Cambridge

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Wanjiku Chiuri

Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic, Research and Student Affairs at Laikipia University-Kenya

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Jean-Christophe Glaszmann

Researcher, CIRAD, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development

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Michael Robinson

Chief Science Advisor for the Syngenta Foundation

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Eugene R. Terry

Independent Consultant, Plant Pathologist

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Barbara H. Wells

Director General, International Potato Center

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Ruben Echevarria

Director General, CIAT

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Graham Thiele

Program Director, CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas

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Terms of Reference for Independent Steering Committee members


  • Majority of independent members with competencies in gender, partnership, evaluation and theory of change, capacity strengthening, results-based management, and cutting edge science, appointed for 3 years with possible reappointment for an additional period of up to 3 years.
  • DG of the lead center, as a permanent member and one DG of another participating center, on a rotating basis for two-year periods of appointment. Both DGs represent all CGIAR centers.
  • One permanent seat for a member representing CIRAD, IRD, INRA, and Vitropic. The designated member appointed for 3 years with possible reappointment for an additional period of up to 3 years, at which time a new representative would be designated.
  • RTB Director as ex-officio
  • Chair elected by Steering Committee from among the independent members. A Secretary will be elected.

Frequency of meeting:

  • One face-to-face meeting a year.
  • Regular quarterly video meetings and extraordinary video meetings on an occasional basis.

Time commitment:

  • Members would be expected to designate up to 10 days a year for their work with the Steering Committee.
  • The Chair would be expected to designate up to 15 days a year.


  • Programmatic responsibility for implementation of RTB which entails overseeing the strategic alignment of the RTB with the SRF, and making recommendations with respect to the overall direction of the program, including the identification of new investment and funding opportunities to enhance impact.
  • Oversee implementation of Results Based Management.
  • Support development, use, and monitoring of the Theories of Change and Impact Pathways of the program to enhance the probability of impact.
  • Ensure the development and implementation of best practices for research and development partnership and capacity strengthening.
  • Promote the inclusion of cutting edge science to address the most pressing development challenges.
  • Ensure appropriate engagement with gender research.
  • Review CRP level program proposals, annual plans of work and budget
  • Review annual reports prepared by the Management Committee (MC) for recommendation to Lead Center BoT for approval
  • Approving the Program of Work and Budget (POWB) developed by the MC with a communication to the Lead Center BoT of the ISC approved POWB
  • Provide inputs for the annual performance evaluation of the Program Director (PD) to Lead Center DG
  • Establish ad hoc working group(s) to address specific governance and management issues, as necessary.

Lines of reporting:

  • The ISC reports to the BoT of Lead Center which has fiduciary responsibility for implementation of RTB.
  • The ISC Chair will present a draft annual report to the Lead Center BoT.

Start-up of Independent Steering Committee:

  • The Independent Steering Committee will become effective as of January 1st, 2015.