Expert Panel 9

Agrobiodiversity as a key to more resilient agricultural systems – lessons learnt from the global South

World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)

Time: Wednesday, 20. January 2021, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (CET), subsequent deep dive 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Language: English

The aim of this panel was to assess and distill lessons from three ongoing smallholder producer inititatives in Paraguay, Zambia and Thailand, on how climate-adapted agriculture and the establishment of regional sustainable supply chains can improve the living conditions and resilience of rural agricultural communities against shocks, such as climate change or pandemic outbreaks like COVID-19.

Key topics were: agrobiodiversity; regenerative agriculture; food security; climate resilience; regional value chains; value-addition

The presented examples could show that sustainability of agricultural production systems and the protection of nature can be addressed simultaneously without compromising planetary boundaries, long-term resilience and economic viability.

The discussion was lively and interactive. Many interesting questions came up, which could be discussed in the deep dives.


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Rolf Sommer is director of the department of Agriculture and Land Use Change at WWF in Germany.
Developing and finding sustainable management solutions addressing the complexity of achieving food and nutritional security, sustainable agricultural development, the conservation of nature, biodiversity and agro-ecosystem functioning has been at the core of Rolf’s work ever since. This includes protecting or rehabilitating soil fertility and health at field level, improving the livelihoods of smallholders through improved, competitive and eco-efficient productions systems at farm level, biodiversity, nature and landscape protection and rehabilitation at the watershed /regional level, and carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation at global scale.
Rolf holds a PhD in Agronomy and a MSc in Biology, and in the last 20 years have published over 50 peer-reviewed articles and numerous conference proceedings and online publications (see

Panel Guests

Master of Science with emphasis on Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She has been Director and Country Representative since established WWF in Paraguay in year 2000. She has convened a multidisciplinary team to fight against the deforestation and promoted restauration in the Atlantic Forest. Moreover Lucy and her team are implementing better management practices in agriculture to reduce deforestation and GHE in the Cerrado, Chaco and Pantanal ecoregions with colleagues from Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.

She obtained several international recognitions for her work against environmental deterioration, among which the following are: the title of “Knight of the Order of the Golden Ark”, awarded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in recognition of her fight against the illegal traffic of wildlife in South America in 1996; She also received an award from the “Alliance for Global Conservation (CI, TNC, WCS, PEW and WWF)” in the program called “Repairing Nature Empowering Communities” for her work in reducing deforestation, forest degradation and for her initiatives in favor of the most vulnerable communities.

She is one of the main references in the fight for the conservation of the environment in Paraguay and the region.

Conrad Muyaule is an accomplished Team Lead with more than 12 years of experience, leading agriculture, livelihoods and Wildlife teams to achieve conservation targets through dedicated supervision. His expertise and experience in fields of climate-smart agriculture, gender, value chain development, and microfinance programming were gained through working for various organisation that include Dunavant Zambia Ltd (Private sector), PAM, IDE and CRS (NGOs), WorldFish (Research organisation) and now WWF (conservation organisation). He now leads in promoting Agroecology and associated traditional knowledge to build community resilience to climate change and making agriculture contribute to maintaining of elephant corridors, wildlife habitats at large within the Silowana complex in the KAZA component of Zambia.

Mr. Ply Pirom is a sustainable development specialist, environmental consultant, policy and campaign advisor. His current role is project manager for Sustainable Consumption and Production at WWF Thailand. In his project management role, Ply Pirom is working to establish multi-partnership networks towards deforestation-free supply chains in food system, developing nature-based solutions for ecosystem restoration, local food system restoration and resilient communities.

His past 20 years of professional experiences are covering fields ranging from engineering, urban environmental management, circular economy, value chain development, renewable energy technologies, forest restoration and agroecology, energy project development, and environmental policy advocacy. He has well established his reputation within the governmental, communities and industrial & business sectors in Thailand.

Emile Frison is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems. He spent his entire career in international agricultural research for development. From 2003 to 2013 he was Director General of Bioversity International and developed a strategy entitled “Diversity for Well-being” focusing on the contribution of agricultural biodiversity to the nutritional quality of diets and the sustainability, resilience and productivity of smallholder agriculture.

Dr Frison is lead author of the IPES-Food report “From Uniformity to Diversity: a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems” and is Chair of the Board of Directors of Ecoagriculture Partners.


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