Speaker Series on Adapting Food Systems to Climate Change
Rikin Gandhi and Claudia Sadoff discuss how to address the impact of climate change on agricultural systems in South Asia.
Global food insecurity is rising, due in part to the impact of climate change on weather patterns. In South Asia, where 25% of the world’s hungry and 40% of the world’s malnourished children and women live, increasing climatic risks such as floods, droughts, cyclones, and heat waves pose a tremendous challenge to farmers and to policy makers.
On Tuesday, November 14, 2023, the King Center on Global Development hosted a discussion about how South Asia’s great progress in the last four decades in food production and availability can be maintained and furthered in this adverse context. Claudia Sadoff, former executive managing director at CGIAR, and Rikin Gandhi, co-founder and executive director of Digital Green, shared their perspectives on the impact of local policies and programs, as well as the challenges still to be overcome.
4:30 PM - 5:00 PM: Registration check-in & reception
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM: Talk by Claudia Sadoff and Rikin Gandhi, Q&A moderated by David Lobell
About the Panelists:
Claudia Sadoff, Former Executive Managing Director at the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR)
Claudia Sadoff was the first Executive Managing Director of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR), a global research partnership for a food-secure future dedicated to transforming food, land, and water systems in a climate crisis. She also served as the Director General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a CGIAR Center headquartered in Sri Lanka working globally to find water solutions for sustainable, climate-resilient development.
Prior to joining CGIAR, she spent over 20 years at the World Bank where she held multiple positions, including Lead Economist and Global Lead for Water Security and Integrated Water Resource Management. She served as a Member of the Scientific Group of the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit and was recently named an Honorary Member of the International Water Resources Association. She has received appointments from a wide variety of other organizations, including: Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Oxford University; Chair of the Global Water Partnership/Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Task Force on Water Security and Sustainable Growth; Economic Advisor to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security; Member of the Global Water Partnership Technical Committee; and Fulbright scholar. She holds a PhD in Economics.
Rikin Gandhi, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Digital Green
Rikin Gandhi co-founded and is the executive director of Digital Green, a global development organization that empowers smallholder farmers to lift themselves out of poverty by harnessing the collective power of digital technology and grassroots-level partnerships. Gandhi began his career at Oracle, where he received patents for designing linguistic search algorithms. Later, he joined Microsoft Research’s Technology for Emerging Markets team in India, where he researched ways to amplify the effectiveness of agricultural development globally. There, he created Digital Green to use peer-to-peer farming videos to increase the efficiency of agricultural extension services.
Over the past 15 years, Digital Green has partnered with Ministries of Agriculture in India, Ethiopia, and Kenya to harness technology that drives the adoption of climate-smart, gender-inclusive agricultural practices. They began by leveraging peer-to-peer videos that highlighted local voices for community-based extension, to build trust and behavior change that improved productivity and incomes. Now, they're expanding their digital solutions to include an AI chatbot and data platform that provides farmers with locally-customized advisory to directly address farm-level needs such as crop fertilizer amounts and cattle feed ration formulations. These advisories are continually refined and improved based on feedback and data from farmers and frontline workers that help improve the quality and relevance of the information they receive via the chatbot—improving both the productivity and climate resilience of farmers.
About the Moderator:
David Lobell, Faculty Affiliate at the King Center on Global Development
David Lobell is the Benjamin M. Page Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Earth System Science and the Gloria and Richard Kushel Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE). He is also the William Wrigley Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy and Research (SIEPR).
Lobell's research focuses on agriculture and food security, specifically on generating and using unique datasets to study rural areas throughout the world. His early research focused on climate change risks and adaptations in cropping systems, and he served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report as lead author for the food chapter and core writing team member for the Summary for Policymakers. More recent work has developed new techniques to measure progress on sustainable development goals and study the impacts of climate-smart practices in agriculture. His work has been recognized with various awards, including the Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union (2010), a Macarthur Fellowship (2013), the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences (2022) and election to the National Academy of Sciences (2023).
Prior to his Stanford appointment, Lobell was a Lawrence Post-doctoral Fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He holds a PhD in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University and a Sc.B. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University.