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Achim Dobermann, deputy director general for research at the International Rice Research Institute(IRRI; http://irri.org ), describes the research program on Sustaining Productivity in Intensive Rice-based Systems: rice and the environment. It is part of IRRI's strategic plan, Bringing Hope, Improving Lives: http://www.irri.org/bringinghope/improvinglives.pdf Intensive rice systems provide 75% of the world's rice supply and are of strategic importance for food security at affordable prices, particularly for the urban and rural landless poor in Asia. Irrigated rice areas are among the world's most enduring, environmentally sound, and productive agroecosystems, and increased productivity in recent decades has had a significant impact on poverty reduction. In addition to food, they provide many "ecosystem services" that people living in these areas depend on. Environmental sustainability is threatened, however, by the loss of prime rice land and biodiversity, climate change, and inappropriate management systems, often caused by land, water, or labor shortages. Average yields of irrigated rice must continue to rise at an annual rate of 1%and this growth must be achieved with sustainable technologies. The unit cost of production needs to be lowered to benefit rice producers and consumers. Vital ecosystem services must be recognized, valued, and protected. Mitigating the threats to productivity posed by intensification, diversification, water shortages, and climate change will require innovative resource management and improved varieties. The program addresses these challenges.