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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Professor John Latham BSc

Visiting Professor

Professor John Latham's photo

John Latham is Visiting Professor within GeoData, Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Southampton.

John works as an independent advisor on food security and natural resource management and as a Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton. He worked at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome for 28 years where he was Senior Environment Officer, Head of the Geospatial Unit in the Land and Water Division. He was responsible for the UN geospatial and satellite-based standards for land cover mapping as a fundamental inputs to environmental and natural resource management. He also led multiple international programmes on crop and agricultural monitoring, land cover and land use change analysis in relation to sustainable natural resource management.

His primary work is related to agricultural monitoring and the use of geospatial data for agricultural statistics, and within his time in FAO he led such programmes in over 40 developing countries. He has also led the UNFAO engagement in the assessment of remote sensing and earth observation data in support of area frame sampling techniques and agricultural monitoring, technology transfer and related capacity building programmes. This has included a number of global programmes and development of tools to support resource assessment, including the Global Strategy for Agricultural Statistics. He was also FAO Project Coordinator of the Italian funded Global Land Cover Network (GLCN).

He led the UN FAO contribution to the management of UN-GGIM and the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) including Group on Earth Observation for Global Agriculture Monitoring (GEOGLAM). He led on behalf of UNFAO the ISO TC211 for geospatial standards and the FAO/ ISO submission work on land cover (ISO 19144 I and II). He also led the FAO Spatial Data Infrastructure programme (FAOSDI) for the Deputy Director General of Natural Resources and is a former FAO representative of UNFAO to the UNSDI. He was also the driving force for the utilisation of Agroecological Zoning approaches ( AEZ) to assess agricultural productive potentials in a changing climate with UNFAO in partnership with IIASA.

John has worked on a wide range of food, natural resource and geospatial programmes over the last 28 years covering in many Low and Middle Income Countries. Recent substantial programmes have covered International humanitarian and development programmes on behalf of UNFAO in South Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan, Laos, Turkey, Pakistan, Syria, Myanmar, Lesotho, Malawi, Lao PDR and Somalia.

He has worked closely with implementing multi-lateral and bilateral agencies such as, UNEP, WMO, UNESCO, UNDP, UNODC ( UNDCP) ESCAP, ECA, ESCWA, EEC, OOSA, USAID, USDA, ADB, GTZ, ICSU, Italian Co-operation and the World Bank. He has extensive experience in programme development, project formulation, implementation and evaluation ( MEAL) as well as capacity needs assessment and delivery. He is a skilled resource mobilisation specialist and experienced project manager.

John has cooperated closely with the University of Southampton for more ten years on inputs of data, SDI , tools, approaches for vulnerability assessment and scenarios to support socio-ecological and policy evaluations through natural resources systems at risk frameworks ( NafSAR).

Most recently he has been nominated as a UK member of ISO TC 211 by the British Standards Institute.

Research interests

  • Natural resource mapping and management
  • Land cover
  • Food security
  • Agricultural statistics
  • Satellite remote sensing
  • Geographic Information Systems

Research group


Affiliate research groups

Global Environmental Change and Earth Observation , Population, Health and Wellbeing (PHeW)

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Professor John Latham
Building 44 University of Southampton University Road Southampton SO17 1BJ

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