William Thompson

Knowledge exchange & research fellow

e: william.thompson@biology.ox.ac.uk
William shot outside

Interests and expertise

I am a Knowledge Exchange and Research Fellow at the Nature-based Solutions Initiative. Here, in collaboration with international research institutions, NGOs and industry, I lead the development of the High Agricultural Reforestation Potential (HARP) Toolkit. HARP will be a set of tools designed to facilitate sustainable agroforestry-based reforestation in tropical agricultural landscapes, with a particular focus on cocoa and coffee producing landscapes at forest frontiers. In addition, I am collaborating on the ETH Zurich led Sustain-Cocoa project to evaluate the impacts of forest focused supply chain policies on West African cocoa producers and the remnants of the Guinean forests. My broad research interests involve understanding how ecological and social components of food and agricultural systems interact, as well as exploring mechanisms by which these systems can be modified to enhance farmer livelihoods, improve food security, mitigate climate change and reverse biodiversity loss.


I have diverse experience in food systems and agriculture across research, private sector and international organisations. After a BSc in Biology (University of Bristol), I gained experience in food sourcing and sustainability with Sainsbury’s Supermarkets in the UK, Costa Rica, Australia and Hong Kong. Seeking to specialise in sustainability issues, I took an MSc in Environmental Technology (Imperial College London) focussing on ecological management. Following this, I worked at the United Nations World Food Programme in Tanzania, where I co-ordinated the on-the-ground establishment of a weather risk transfer mechanism for smallholder maize farmers, as part of the WINnERS project for the Farm to Market Alliance. This led to completing a doctorate in food systems resilience, at the Sustainable Agroecosystems Group of ETH Zurich. Here, I explored ways to enhance the climate resilience of smallholder farmers engaged in cocoa and banana global food value chains, by integrating social and natural science methodologies through a transdisciplinary research approach.

Associated projects

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