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Professor David Simon joins new Commission on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification

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Professor David Simon joins new Commission on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification

  • Date28 May 2020

David Simon, Professor of Development Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London has been appointed as a Commissioner to work alongside renowned experts from across the Global South for a major new Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification.

COSAI Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification

CoSAI Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification

The new Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (CoSAI), formally launching in June 2020, follows a growing body of evidence on the imperative need to improve food security and nutrition, protect biodiversity, reduce poverty and bolster climate resilience. It acknowledges that progress toward feeding growing global populations, while protecting the natural environment is behind schedule. Initiated by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), CoSAI will work over 18 months to guide investments in agricultural innovation.

Professor Simon is the sole UK-based Commissioner which has its membership largely drawn from Africa, Asia and Latin America, representing international and intergovernmental organisations.

The twenty-two scientists, experts and decision-makers serving as CoSAI Commissioners will collect and assess evidence to accelerate the urgently needed transformation of agriculture. They will follow a process of ‘open inquiry’  – calling upon a wide range of input – from farmer organisations to policy-makers, researchers, civil society and leading thinkers – to share their solutions to these big challenges, and debate the practicalities of implementation, taking a Global South lens.

Bringing his distinctive multidisciplinary environment–development expertise to the Commission, Professor Simon commented,

 “This appointment is naturally a great honour and also reflects the very welcome recognition that agriculture and food security are nowadays key urban priorities as well as rural agendas.

"As someone who has worked throughout my career to challenge the traditional and unrealistic rural–urban dichotomy and promote more integrated systems approaches, my contributions to the Commission will focus in part on embedding such perspectives. In many Southern countries, urban and peri-urban agriculture has remained important – accounting for about half the food consumed in metropolitan Kampala and Dar es Salaam, for example. These serve as models for other urban contexts, where promoting urban food production provides employment opportunities for poor residents, some of whom have rural agricultural experience, while also reducing food miles and enhancing urban resilience as part of sustainability strategies. Indeed, we see similar trends are emerging in Northern contexts, as evidenced by promotion of locally produced foods, even in supermarkets, and the increasing popularity of urban farmers’ markets.”

Professor Simon’s relevant research experience covers many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of tropical Asia, including from Sept 2014 -December 2019, an 80% secondment from Royal Holloway as Director of Mistra Urban Futures, an international research centre on urban sustainability based at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden.

CoSAI will have its official launch in June, in a global web event, featuring prominent experts sharing their insights on the Global South’s food future.

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