Philip K Thornton

Philip K Thornton
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research | CGIAR

About

376
Publications
238,290
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28,836
Citations
Citations since 2016
109 Research Items
20464 Citations
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Introduction

Publications

Publications (376)
Article
CGIAR consists of a network of international publicly funded agricultural research for development institutes. Over five decades it has worked to increase food abundance, reduce hunger and poverty rates, and lower the geographical footprint of agriculture in lower- and middle-income countries. CGIAR's first formalised research program on climate ch...
Article
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CONTEXT: Given the significance of climate change impacts on farming communities, large investments are made by research and development actors, including farmers themselves, to adapt agricultural systems. A data- driven approach is required to guide these investments and maximize their impact. In the African Great Lakes Region (GLR), root, tuber a...
Chapter
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So how do we reverse the growing carbon, land, and toxic chemical footprint of contemporary AVCs; expand the nutrient-rich food supply; and induce more equitable, inclusive, healthier food environments—and thus consumption patterns—so as to navigate from today’s unsustainable and precarious AVCs to a warmer, more urban, more African, and shock-pron...
Chapter
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As we look 25–50 years, or more, into the future, we must also keep in mind how very different tomorrow’s world will inevitably look. Three big, inevitable changes stand out, with serious implications for AFS and AVC innovations.
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The complex pathways from innovation to impact mean that unintended spilloverSpillovers effects on non-target objectives are always likely. This generates a third reason—in addition to accelerators and complementarity in pursuit of target objectives—why socio-technical bundlesBundle/bundling are important. Herrero et al. (2020, 2021) demonstrated t...
Chapter
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Scientific discovery is neither linear nor predictable. The time it takes to develop breakthrough technologies varies enormously among application domains. Some basic scientific discoveries remain elusive and will need continued, concerted funding and attention in the years and decades ahead. In some cases, the stumbling block is the scientific adv...
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Technological and institutional innovationsin agri-food systems (AFSs) over the past century have brought dramatic advances in human well-being worldwide.
Chapter
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A key implication of the abundance of promising technologies in various stages of development is that AFS transformation is less likely to be limited by science-based discovery than by human agency . What key players do in response to the wealth of options they face will ultimately determine the path(s) we follow.
Chapter
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Repeated episodes throughout history remind us that AFSs episodically undergo dramatic transformations, most of them purposeful—guided by incentives prevailing at the time—rather than purely random changes. Typically, these changes have taken decades or centuries. A major shock, like the COVID-19 pandemic, may help spark the more rapid transformati...
Chapter
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One might reasonably invoke Dickens in describing AFSs and AVCs today: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Chapter
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As detailed in Marshall et al. (Quinn Marshall, Jessica Fanzo, Christopher B. Barrett, Andrew D. Jones, Anna Herforth, and Rebecca McLaren, “Building a global food systems typology: A new tool for reducing complexity in food systems analysis,” Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, vol. 5 (November 2021): 746512), the food systemsFoodsystemstypolog...
Article
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Accelerating food systems transformation in the face of climate change and other global crises requires myriad changes across all levels, themes, and geographies. This calls for re-thinking the roles of agricultural research for development (AR4D). In this perspective article we use the metaphor of ‘swarms’ and ‘swarming’ to illustrate a more distr...
Article
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Following the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, most nations made commitments within their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to adaptation and mitigation in agriculture. However, these commitments need to be assessed in relation with ground truth, including bio-physical and socio-economic limits to climate action. We propose a new framework for moni...
Article
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Background Heat stress in animals is one of the major climate change impacts on domesticated livestock raised in both intensive and extensive production systems. At temperatures higher than an animal's thermoneutral zone, heat stress can affect liveweight gain, milk yield, and fertility. Animal welfare may also be negatively affected by heat stress...
Article
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Global food systems are currently facing unprecedented challenges with respect to production and nutritional targets, inclusivity and environmental footprint. Several recent reports highlight the need for major, rapid reconfiguration of our food systems as a result. International publicly funded agricultural research for development will play an in...
Chapter
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Because AFSs are diverse, dynamic, and evolve continuously, they require massive continuous investment to enable ongoing discovery and adaptation merely to prevent backsliding.
Technical Report
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Women and girls are disproportionately affected by global crises such as climate change and environmental degradation. Moreover, the key role of women in agriculture and in sustaining the livelihoods and food security of their households in low-income countries, emphasises the need to address the gender gap. Therefore, gender transformative researc...
Technical Report
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Adequate financial resources are key barriers limiting the effectiveness and sustainability of the national science-policy dialogue platforms in West Africa. This Info Note documents the outcomes of and lessons learnt from capacity building activities to science-policy dialogue platforms in Ghana, Mali and Niger and how the capacity building progra...
Technical Report
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Five years after the adoption of CSA Action Plan, followed by a CSA Investment Framework, it was crucial to assess the level of implementation and usage and draw lessons on the effectiveness of these two policy documents. This study aims to provide a scientific-based assessment of the level of implementation, usage, and effectiveness of the above-m...
Article
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Context Climate change is projected to negatively impact food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. The magnitude of these impacts is expected to be amplified by the extensive reliance on rainfed agriculture and the prevalence of subsistence farming. In the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa, smallholder farming households are largely dependent on root,...
Article
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Anthropogenic climate change is expected to have major impacts on domesticated livestock, including increased heat stress in animals in both intensive and extensive livestock systems. We estimate the changes in the number of extreme heat stress days per year for animals raised outdoors that can be expected in the major domesticated animal species (...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Livestock are a critically important component of the food system, however, the sector needs a profound transformation to ensure that it contributes to a rapid transition towards sustainable food systems. This paper reviews and synthesizes the evidence available on changes in demand for livestock products in the last few decades, and the multiple s...
Article
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Climate change poses a growing threat to the achievement of optimal nutritional status, both directly through affecting food production and indirectly through altering social and economic influences in people's lives. These adverse nutrition outcomes are not evenly distributed across the world, and vulnerable populations are the most impacted. Unde...
Article
Analyses of food security with agricultural systems models often focus on indicators of food availability, with limited treatment of the other three dimensions: food access, stability and utilization. We illustrate how three indicators of access (food consumption expenditures, a food insecurity scale and dietary diversity) and their stability can b...
Article
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The potential impacts of climate change on current livestock systems worldwide is a major concern, and yet the topic is covered to a limited extent in global reports such as the ones produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In this article, we review the risk of climate-related impacts along the land-based livestock food supply ch...
Article
Coupling technological advances with sociocultural and policy changes can transform agri-food systems to address pressing climate, economic, environmental, health and social challenges. An international expert panel reports on options to induce contextualized combinations of innovations that can balance multiple goals.
Article
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Food system innovations will be instrumental to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, major innovation breakthroughs can trigger profound and disruptive changes, leading to simultaneous and interlinked reconfigurations of multiple parts of the global food system. The emergence of new technologies or social solutions, the...
Article
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Formalised knowledge systems, including universities and research institutes, are important for contemporary societies. They are, however, also arguably failing humanity when their impact is measured against the level of progress being made in stimulating the societal changes needed to address challenges like climate change. In this research we use...
Article
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Climate change is threatening food security in many tropical countries, where a large proportion of food is produced by vulnerable smallholder farmers. Interventions are available to offset many of the negative impacts of climate change on agriculture, and they can be tailored to local conditions often through relative modest investments. However,...
Article
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There is broad agreement that current food systems are not on a sustainable trajectory that will enable us to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, particularly in the face of anthropogenic climate change. Guided by a consideration of some food system reconfigurations in the past, we outline an agenda of work around four action areas: re...
Article
Full-text available
Formalised knowledge systems, including universities and research institutes, are important for contemporary societies. They are, however, also arguably failing humanity when their impact is measured against the level of progress being made in stimulating the societal changes needed to address challenges like climate change. In this research we use...
Article
Full-text available
Multiple cropping, defined as harvesting more than once a year, is a widespread land management strategy in tropical and subtropical agriculture. It is a way of intensifying agricultural production and diversifying the crop mix for economic and environmental benefits. Here we present the first global gridded data set of multiple cropping systems an...
Article
Future technologies and systemic innovation are critical for the profound transformation the food system needs. These innovations range from food production, land use and emissions, all the way to improved diets and waste management. Here, we identify these technologies, assess their readiness and propose eight action points that could accelerate t...
Chapter
Africa makes a relatively minor contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions compared with developed nations, yet the African continent will be increasingly vulnerable to climate change processes in the coming decades. Critical challenges include meeting basic needs for food, water, shelter, and other necessities without undermining biodiversity...
Article
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Rangelands are one of the Earth’s major ice-free land cover types. They provide food and support livelihoods for millions of people in addition to delivering important ecosystems services. However, rangelands are at threat from climate change, although the extent and magnitude of the potential impacts are poorly understood. Any declines in vegetati...
Chapter
Key messages • The African pastoral farming system consists of livestock and drylands crop-based production that supports an agricultural population of 38 million people of whom 13.4 million in sub-Saharan Africa are extremely poor. • Human population growth has resulted in low per capita livestock and land resources, and while the farming system h...
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Projections of climate change are available at coarse scales (70–400 km). But agricultural and species models typically require finer scale climate data to model climate change impacts. Here, we present a global database of future climates developed by applying the delta method –a method for climate model bias correction. We performed a technical e...
Chapter
This book contains 18 chapters that describes the evolving and multi-faceted roles of ILRI in addressing these and other global challenges in nearly a half century of research. ILRI researchers and partners took leading roles, for example, in the following. This volume can serve as a reference and resource for all interested in the role of livestoc...
Chapter
Full-text available
This book contains 18 chapters that describes the evolving and multi-faceted roles of ILRI in addressing these and other global challenges in nearly a half century of research. ILRI researchers and partners took leading roles, for example, in the following. This volume can serve as a reference and resource for all interested in the role of livestoc...
Chapter
This book contains 18 chapters that describes the evolving and multi-faceted roles of ILRI in addressing these and other global challenges in nearly a half century of research. ILRI researchers and partners took leading roles, for example, in the following. This volume can serve as a reference and resource for all interested in the role of livestoc...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we investigate the ways in which climate change-related interventions such as climate-smart agriculture (CSA) may open up—or close down—spaces for transformation. We explore the interface between worldviews, power relations and policy interventions, focusing in particular on the way that asymmetric gender and expert-farmer relations...
Conference Paper
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The challenges facing the global food system to supply sufficient safe and nutritious food for all are considerable. To achieve this goal while also adapting to climate change and trying to reduce the environmental pressures coming from the food system will require a transformation of the food system. Following the findings from a range of high-lev...
Technical Report
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The global food system is the single largest driver of global environmental change, contributing 24% of greenhouse gas emissions, consuming 70% of blue water, and being the primary cause behind the 60% loss of vertebrate biodiversity since the 1970s. In the next three decades we will need a 30-70% increase in food availability to meet the demand fo...
Article
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Connecting science with policy has always been challenging for both scientists and policymakers. In Ghana, Mali and Senegal, multi-stakeholder national science-policy dialogue platforms on climate-smart agriculture (CSA) were setup to use scientific evidence to create awareness of climate change impacts on agriculture and advocate for the mainstrea...
Article
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Many assessments of climate change impacts on global crop yields project declines as early as the 2020s. Losses are projected to increase with time, up to 50% by the 2080s. We carry out a systematic global review and compare published projections of climate change impacts from 34 studies and ∼4500 data points for the 2020s for maize, rice and wheat...
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The impacts of climate change on crop yields, as projected by a slew of impact assessments carried out since the 1980s, have brought the issue of future food insecurity to the fore. A meta-analysis of ~27,000 data points from studies published over the last four decades reveals that at country level, average impacts of climate change on crop yields...
Article
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Grazing livestock are an important source of food and income for millions of people worldwide. Changes in mean climate and increasing climate variability are affecting grasslands’ carrying capacity, thus threatening the livelihood of millions of people as well as the health of grassland ecosystems. Compared with cropping systems, relatively little...
Article
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Growth in demand for livestock-derived foods will likely remain strong in low-and middle-income countries, fueling concerns about expansion of production and the management of natural resources. Recent research suggests that the envisioned negative effects are not inevitable and that benefits such as improved food security can be enhanced. Targeted...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Decision makers in developing countries need evidence of the impacts climate change is having and will continue to have on agriculture and food systems as well as knowledge on how to design better policies to deal with such impacts. Research for development scientists are generating this evidence but it might not always be what decision makers want...
Article
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The challenges facing agriculture in the coming decades are daunting. Recent research suggests that the impacts of climate change on agriculture and food systems may be wider-ranging than previously understood. Can feasible pathways to a food secure and sustainable future be identified? The scale of change required to meet the sustainable developme...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The impacts of a warming world are affecting food production in every corner of the globe. From shifting rainfall patterns and growing seasons, to more frequent and extreme droughts and floods, to increasingly severe pest and disease outbreaks among crops and livestock, farming as we know it is under attack. Globally, agricultural production has fa...
Article
There are large yield gaps in the mixed smallholder farming systems of Africa, with limited opportunities to sustainably increase productivity and adapt to climate change. In this study, the ex-ante potential of residue retention and fertilization measures to meet this challenge is assessed using a positive mathematical programming (PMP) model. Thi...