October 28, 1998

Dr. Ismail Serageldin
Vice President, Special Programs
The World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20433

Dear Ismail:

I write on behalf of the Chairs of the sixteen international agricultural research centers of the CGIAR. We have learned recently of your formal candidacy for the Director-Generalship of UNESCO, and you will be pleased, I believe, to learn of our mixed reactions to that news: delight at the skills and leadership that you could bring to UNESCO, but despair at the prospect that you might leave the CGIAR!

We want you to know of the extraordinarily high regard that we have for you. We wish you much success in your candidacy, and we thought that those contemplating your selection at UNESCO might be interested in our specific experience in working with you.

We have seen your extraordinary leadership at the World Bank and within the CGIAR. Specifically, we have applauded:

  • your deep understanding of science and knowledge systems and their important roles in helping to improve the welfare of poor people throughout the world;
  • your energy level in designing and implementing programs - a capacity for hard work that is truly extraordinary;
  • your broad vision of the world --- a vision that is inclusive both of North and South, and that combines education, culture, and science in forward-looking ways; and
  • your great capability to lead by example, and to manage a large and complex organization with a firm hand, but with consultative processes.

We thus wish to record our admiration for you, why we have enjoyed working with you, and why we believe you would be a superb Director General for UNESCO. We wish you much success with your candidacy.

With admiration and respect.


Walter P. Falcon
Farnsworth Professor of International Economics
Stanford University; and
Chair, CIMMYT; and
Chair, Committee of Board Chairs