Climate-smart agriculture: Acting locally, informing globally. The CCAFS 2014 Annual Report

Philip Thornton

Flagship Leader and Principal Scientist
Flagship Leader

Philip Thornton joined the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in 2010, first as Leader for Theme "Integration for Decision-making"; and, from January 2015, leading the Flagship "Institutions and Policies for Climate-Resilient Food Systems".

Philip Thornton has been working for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), since 1996. First as Coordinator of the Systems Analysis and Impact Assessment Programme and from 2002, based in Edinburgh, he has been involved with several integrated modelling and climate change impact projects in livestock systems in Africa.

After graduateing with a BSc (Hons) degree in Agriculture from Reading University and a PhD in Farm Management from Lincoln College, New Zealand, Philip Thornton spent three years as a Post-Doc at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia, working on bioeconomic modelling of livestock production systems in Latin America. He was then based at the University of Edinburgh for three years working on crop and household modelling projects in Central America and southern Africa. In 1990, he joined the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) in Alabama, and was involved in projects in various countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. 

He is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Institute of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. He has published widely on systems modelling and impact assessment. 

Experience as project leader, trainer, and/or researcher in many countries all over the world, including Albania, Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Netherlands, Philippines, Republic of South Africa, Romania, Tanzania, Uganda, Uruguay, Zimbabwe.

In the last ten years, consultancies undertaken for the World Bank, FAO, the Science Council of the CGIAR, IDRC, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and three UK Government Foresight Projects (Detection of Infectious Diseases, Global Food and Farming Futures, and Migration and Global Environmental Change).

He is on the Board of Directors of the International Consortium for Agricultural Systems Applications (ICASA), a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of GECAFS (Global Environmental Change and Food Systems programme), and Editor-in Chief of the journal Agricultural Systems.

Some recent publications

See L, Fritz S, You L, Ramankutty N, Herrero M, Justice C, Becker-Reshef  I, Thornton PK, Erb K, Gong P, Tang H, van der Velde M, Ericksen P, McCallum I, Kraxner F, Obersteiner M. 2014. Improved global cropland data as an essential ingredient for food security. Global Food Security 4:37-45.

Förch W, Kristjanson PM, Cramer L, Barahona C, Thornton PK. 2014. Back to baselines: Measuring change and sharing data. Agriculture and Food Security 3:13.

Lipper L, Thornton PK, Campbell B, Baedeker T, Braimoh A, Bwalya M, Caron P, Cattaneo A, Garrity D, Henry K, Hottle R, Jackson L, Jarvis A, Kossam F, Mann W, McCarthy N, Meybeck A, Neufeldt H, Remington T, Sen PT, Sessa R, Shula R, Tibu A, Torquebiau EF. 2014. Climate smart agriculture for food security. Nature Climate Change 4:1068-1072.

Campbell B, Thornton PK, Zougmoré R, van Asten P, Lipper L. 2014. Sustainable intensification: what is its role in climate smart agriculture? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 8:39-43.

Thornton PK, Ericksen PJ, Herrero M, Challinor AJ. 2014. Climate variability and vulnerability to climate change: a review. Global Change Biology 20(11):3313-3328. 

Thornton PK, Herrero M. 2014. Climate change adaptation in mixed crop-livestock systems in developing countries. Global Food Security 3(2):99-107.

Vervoort J, Thornton PK, Kristjanson P, Förch W, Ericksen P, Kok K, Ingram JSI, Herrero M, Palazzo A, Helfgott A, Wilkinson A, Havlik P, Mason-D’Croz D, Jost C. 2014. Food systems futures: towards adaptation pathways across multiple dimensions and levels. Global Environmental Change 28:383-394.

Herrero M, Thornton PK, Bernués A, Baltenweck I, Vervoort J, van de Steeg J, Makokha S, van Wijk M T, Karanja S, Staal SJ. 2014. Exploring future changes in smallholder farming systems by linking socio-economic scenarios with regional and household models. Global Environmental Change 24:165-182.

Havlík P, Valin H, Herrero M, Obersteiner M, Schmid E, Rufino M, Mosnier A, Thornton PK, Böttcher H, Conant RT, Frank S, Fritz S, Fuss S, Kraxner F, Notenbaert A. 2014.  Climate change mitigation through livestock system transitions. PNAS 111(10):3709-3714.

Challinor AJ, Matre P, Asseng S, Thornton PK, Ewert F. 2014. Climate impacts ensembles: making the most of international coordination. Nature Climate Change 4:77-80.

Kristjanson PM, Harvey B, Van Epp M, Thornton PK. 2014. Social learning and sustainable development. Nature Climate Change 4:5-7.

Klapwijk CJ, van Wijk MT, Rosenstock TS, van Asten PJA, Thornton PK, Giller KE. 2014. Analysis of trade-offs in agricultural systems: current state and way forward. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 6:110-115.

Herrero M, Thornton PK. 2013. Livestock and global change: emerging issues for sustainable food systems. PNAS 110(52):20878-20881.

Herrero M, Havlík P, Valin H, Notenbaert AM, Rufino M, Thornton PK, Blummel M, Weiss F, Obersteiner M. 2013. Global livestock systems: biomass use, production, feed efficiencies and greenhouse gas emissions. PNAS 110(52):20888-20893.

Rufino MC, Thornton PK, Ng’ang’a SK, Mutie I, Jones PG, van Wijk MT, Herrero M. 2013. Transitions in agro-pastoralist systems of East Africa: impacts on food security and poverty. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 179:215-230.

Garnett T, Appleby MC, Balmford A, Bateman IJ, Benton TG, Bloomer P, Burlingame B, Dawkins M, Dolan L, Fraser D, Herrero M, Smith P, Thornton PK, Toulmin C, Vermeulen SJ, Godfray HCJ. 2013. Sustainable Intensification in agriculture; navigating a course through competing priorities. Science 341:33-34.

Vermeulen SJ, Challinor AJ, Thornton PK, Campbell BM, Eriyagama N, Vervoort JM, Kinyangi J, Jarvis A, Läderach P, Ramirez-Villegas J, Nicklin KJ, Hawkins E and Smith DR. 2013. Addressing uncertainty in adaptation planning for agriculture. PNAS 110(21):8357–8362.

Ramirez-Villegas J, Challinor AC, Thornton PK, Jarvis A. 2013. Implications of regional improvement in global climate models for agricultural impacts research. Environmental Research Letters 8:024018.

Challinor AJ, Stafford Smith M, Thornton PK. 2013. Use of agro-climate ensembles for quantifying uncertainty and informing adaptation. Agricultural and Forestry Meteorology 170:2-7.