It is an unexpected but the most wanted journey I had with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), a non-profit global research agency that conducts research on the most pressing challenges of forest and landscape management around the world. After graduating from PhD and ending my one year contract at ODI, I was offered a 9 month research/consultant position by a senior research associate and the Head of Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) at ODI, John Young, whom I know to be one of the nicest and organised persons to work with.

 John Young received a request from a CIFOR scientist, Daniel Suryadharma, who came to ODI in early February 2014 to propose a collaborative work to assess the outcomes and the influence of CIFOR's Global Comparative Study (GCS) on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). I feel grateful to be part of this assessment project. The offer to join this awesome collaborative project firstly came from Neil Bird who thinks that my Indonesian national suits well the need since the headquarter of CIFOR is located in Bogor Indonesia and the project will benefit if there is a project team to stay in Bogor, Indonesia. Thanks to Neil, this collaborative project brought me back home to Indonesia and to some countries I really want to experience like Peru and to re-experience like Brazil, a country where I lived in 2008 and I always had wanted to go back.

I was spending two months in Bogor where I worked with CIFOR lead scientists like Louis Verchot, Daniel Murdiyarso, Maria Brockhaus and other inspiring scientists to visualise the pathways through which CIFOR hoped for channeling its research and making impact on policy development. I learned so much about forestry science, the social context surrounding this complex sector and its intricate policy process.

It is truly a challenging period to know this sector in depth in a two month period along with conducting a series of interviews with some CIFOR scientists. Finding a suitable time to work with highly reputable researchers is an adrenaline rush process, but I enjoyed it. It is another challenge to illustrate their research strategies on one or two pages of theories of change, which depict the belief of CIFOR on how research from activities lead to impact on policies.

This experience is a mind opening of how a communication strategy, which is often neglected, is the only way of research can have a great intended impact. As a researcher I did a lot of reflection about my own work by doing this project. I realise that my work means nothing without engagement with the people who can use my research. The whole project confused me entirely about how dilemmatic researchers' interest to be isolated from the influence of outsiders' interest, yet they need to interact with the outsiders to influence them. I was privileged to interview more than 13 REDD policy makers across 12 countries in COP 20 in Lima Peru. Finding these policy makers among 10000  delegates without knowing their names and how do they look like was one of the most intense processes of my research life. 

After nine months of work, a collaborative work is extended for another month and it is was closed by a final workshop in London where CIFOR scientists gathered to draw lessons learned from the process and to validate findings. To me this is not the end of my relationship with CIFOR. Due to my performance, I was offered another project by CIFOR to conduct the similar assessment for CIFOR's Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Programme (SWAMP). I spent a few more months to interview leading scientists in this arena. From working with CIFOR I have an in-depth knowledge of evaluation strategy and international and Indonesian forestry policies. This project gives me an opportunity to produce two academic manuscripts with Daniel Suryadharma (former CIFOR) and Brian Belcher (CIFOR/Royal Road University). The opportunities that CIFOR and ODI gave me has paved my early way to be an expert in the field of evaluation and impact assessment.