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Anthony Beattie, distinguished former British civil servant conducting CGIAR funding review, visits Nairobi research-for-development institutions


Anthony Beattie

Anthony Beattie has been commissioned by the CGIAR Fund Office to assist with a significant study, ‘A CGIAR Resource Mobilization Approach and Strategy: Possible ways forward and their implications.’ He visited the ILRI campus in Nairobi on 13 Mar 2014 (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

From Wikipedia: Anthony Beattie is a retired British civil servant who began a public service career as a development economist in Africa in the 1960s and ended it in 2004 as a director in the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). He helped promote the application of ‘new public management’ concepts to the UK public sector in the 1990s, both as head of an executive agency (the Natural Resources Institute) and subsequently as a member of the Efficiency and Effectiveness Unit in the Cabinet Office. From 1997 to 2004, Beattie was Ambassador and UK Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome. Among other roles in the governing bodies in Rome he was President of the Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP), chair of the Audit Committee of the Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). He chaired the Governance Group established by WFPs Executive Board in 1999. He has trained as a coach at Henley Management College and implemented a coaching programme in WFP. He is the author of ‘Experience of commissioning research and development’ in Science in Government—The Rise of the Intelligent Customer; ‘Research investment strategies in selected European countries: Lessons learned—the UK, in Investment Strategies for Agriculture and Natural Resources (1988); and The Governance of Priorities, Financing and Performance in the Delivery of Public Goods by International and Regional Membership Organisations (2013).

Addendum: Beattie was a visiting professor at the University of Geneva from 2005–2011, where he taught courses on the International Organisations MBA program and met Iddo Dror, a graduate student there who now heads ILRI’s Capacity Development Unit.

At the invitation of Tony Simons, director general of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), in Nairobi, Kenya, Anthony Beattie, a retired British civil servant with a lifetime of development and organizational change expertise who was recently contracted by CGIAR to help refine its funding strategy and procedures, visited CGIAR and partner organizations in Nairobi, Kenya.

On Thu 13 Mar 2014, Tony Brenton-Rule, head of ILRI’s Business Development Unit, welcomed Anthony Beattie to the Nairobi headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Brenton-Rule asked Beattie to say a few words to introduce himself to some 30 staff of CGIAR and related research-for-development institutions who had gathered to meet him for lunch, followed by a tour of the laboratories of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI Hub.

‘Let me explain why I’m mysteriously here’, Beattie began, having noted that he first came to Nairobi in 1969.

‘I’ve worked all my life in development. I first became interested in development when I was 14 or 15 years old and happened to watch a television program anchored by Alistair Cook about the United Nations. I proceeded to sit in front of my family’s black-and-white television set to watch the whole series, fascinated. I said to myself then, “That’s what I want to do.”

‘Upon graduating from Cambridge, I immediately set out for Malawi (with a first degree in economics and nothing else) and there began my career in international development.

‘I joined the UK’s Department for International Development [DFID, formerly ODM and ODA, the largest bilateral donor of development-focused research] and spent the rest of my career there, spending a quarter to a third of my career attached to the foreign office. I did, as British civil servants often do, an astounding amount of different things.

    • I sat in DFID’s finance department and oversaw aid.
    • I oversaw pensions to people who were “retiring from the empire”.
    • I oversaw the separation of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, in the Pacific [these were a British protectorate from 1892 and colony from 1916 until Jan 1976, when the islands were divided into two colonies, which became independent nations shortly after].
    • I was the first non-scientist to ever run a scientific institute in the UK (UK scientists were appropriately outraged, with a British newspaper running a headline on its front page saying ‘Pensions Man Gets Top Science Job’).

Anthony Beattie and Margaret Karembu

Anthony Beattie meets Margaret Karembu, director of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application (ISAAA) AfriCenter on 13 Mar 2014 at the ILRI Nairobi campus (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

‘I ran the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) for ten years [1986–1996; NRI provides research, consultancy and education services worldwide, especially through its long-established international activities in the developing world on the sustainable management of natural and human resources]. I helped NRI bring disparate research groups into a single unified organization, move it all to one place (Chatham), transform its financing from core- to competitive grant-funding, join the UK’s higher education sector and, finally, downsize the institution in the Margaret Thatcher era, when public-sector science was rationalized.

‘Rodney Cooke, who I believe is one of your board members [he was appointed to the ILRI Board in Nov 2012], was one of my senior staff at NRI.

‘When I left NRI, I was grabbed by people working for Tory Minister Michael Heseltine who were asking the same kinds of questions that I was asking.

‘Following that, I worked for the United Nations as the UK permanent representative in Rome and ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP), where my chief jobs were to help reshape, and strengthen, these institutions.

‘I retired in 2004, and now teach in graduate schools, provide executive coaching and, when asked, take on some consultancy work.

‘I’m now working on a resource management strategy for CGIAR.

‘This is an exciting job that takes me back into development, which I love, and back into a community that I care much about.’

Jagger Harvey, Tony Brenton-Rule and Anthony Beattie

ILRI senior scientist Jagger Harvey (left) introduces the work of the BecA-ILRI Hub to Anthony Beattie (right) who visited ILRI in Nairobi on 13 Mar 2014. Looking on is Tony Brenton-Rule, head of ILRI’s Business Development Unit (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu). 

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