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The University of Southampton

University of Southampton professor to contribute to Rio+20 Earth Summit

Published: 13 June 2012

World leaders, governments, international institutions and major groups will come together at the Rio+20 Earth Summit next week, to discuss and establish a range of actions to ensure a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all.

The summit marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro and there is a renewed hope that the measures from this year’s summit can reduce poverty around the world, while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources.

The University of Southampton will have a presence in Rio and attend events at and leading up to the summit, as well as participating in the Symposium on Sustainability Rio+20, held by Munasinghe Institute for Development and Vale Technological Institute.

Guy Poppy, Professor of Ecology and Director of Multidisciplinary Research at the University, will address the symposium to encourage the use of the ecosystem services approach to ensure there is enough food in the world for everyone.

Prof Guy Poppy

Professor Poppy comments: “We face a perfect storm of food, water and energy shortages by 2030. With the global population now exceeding 7 billion and on its way to 8 billion, coupled with the lack of suitable land, feeding people will become increasingly difficult. We need to sustainably intensify agriculture by using technology, nature and knowledge to ensure both food and ecological security. We must realise that agriculture is an ecosystem and it needs to be managed accordingly so we can use the ecosystem service approach to maximise food security whilst maintaining a biodiverse environment.”

Professor Poppy will also elaborate on his new research project that seeks solutions to addressing food and nutritional security in poor communities in Colombia and Malawi, whilst exploring how best to manage the important forest and agriculture environments.

Professor Poppy adds: “We want to address the fundamental question of what is the causal chain of provision that leads from ecosystems to impact on human well-being? This underpins our ability to manage trade-offs between different ecosystem services for the benefit of the most vulnerable in society.”

Notes for editors

For more information about Professor Guy Poppy visit

Professor Poppy’s research project in Colombia and Malawi is funded by the £40.5m Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme. More information is available at

More information about the Rio+20 Earth Summit can be found at

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