John Lynam

Chair, Independent Steering Committee (ISC)


What’s your role at AICCRA and the journey that led you here?  

I chair the Independent Science Committee (ISC) for AICCRA. The board of the Alliance Bioversity – CIAT delegates responsibility for the governance of AICCRA to the ISC. The ISC in that capacity provides oversight, approves budgets and reports, and approves the appointment of the Director. I work closely with the Director in developing the agenda for the two key meetings that are held each year. In chairing the meetings, I ensure that all members of the ISC participate and that the agenda items provide effective feedback to management.

I have worked either inside or outside in support of the CGIAR since joining CIAT in 1977. Most recently I served as the chair of the board of the World Agroforestry Centre and at same time served on the board of CIFOR. I also served on the science committee of several CGIAR research programs, including the Aquatic Agricultural Systems and the Dryland Systems CRPs.

Since arriving in Nairobi with the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) in 1988, I have worked on the development of smallholder agricultural systems on the continent, particularly increasing productivity and improving access to markets. With RF I developed a grants program on soil health, which I feel is essential for improved system resilience, especially to an increasing cycle of drought and flood that is occurring with climate change. The challenge remains of how smallholders transition to intensification of their agroecological production system, particularly under climate change.

I have lived in Nairobi, Kenya since 1988, which has been a hub for people working on agricultural development in Africa. In 2007 I moved to consulting and have worked for 12 of the 15 CGIAR Centers. I have also done work for many of the development agencies, such as the World Bank, the Gates Foundation, and GTZ. This has given me experience in a wide range of problems.