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Rosalind Cornforth

The Walker Institute, University of Reading
United Kingdom

Rosalind Cornforth, Director of The Walker Institute, has proven leadership expertise working on the ground in developing countries, designing early warning systems, and implementing large-scale interdisciplinary projects around managing for climate resilience. A Professor of Climate and Development, she is an expert in bringing academics from different disciplines to work together to support climate resilience and development. As a leading innovator in knowledge exchange and multi-stakeholder engagement, she links science, policy, and practice to drive solution-orientated research and build capacity on the ground.

A meteorologist by training, she has many years’ experience collaborating with policymakers, communities, and international organisations particularly across sub-Saharan Africa. She has a portfolio of research designed across all scales with a wide range of stakeholder groups to help build a climate-resilient future.

Cornforth has been principal investigator of multiple large-scale interdisciplinary, multi-partner projects co-funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Research Councils UK. These projects focus on climate change impact modelling and risk assessment, readiness tools and scaling-up for implementation through practice-focused partners, and the translation of evidence into advice and political action. Her current research stretches across the climate–livelihoods–resilience domain, building robust inter-disciplinary research to better understand the multi-sectoral impacts of climate change, and the capacity of people and communities to adapt.

In 2011, she established the African Climate Exchange (AfClix), which brings together academics, policymakers, and practitioners to identify how climate science can play a role in reducing people’s vulnerabilities to weather-related hazards in Africa. AfClix focuses on action on the ground to strengthen capacity and promote resilience.

In 2015, Cornforth became Director of The Walker Institute at the University of Reading, which carries out global interdisciplinary research and innovative capacity building to advance knowledge and deliver a better understanding of future climate change and its impacts. The institute bridges the gap between primary science and its applications in public and private sector policy by developing tools that allow non-experts to engage with evidence-based scenarios, evaluate risk, and plan accordingly. Cornforth is responsible for the institute’s strategic vision as well as its human, financial, environmental, and technical operations. Through 2018, she founded and steered the growth of The Walker Academy, the training arm of the institute, which provides a vibrant and innovative base for customised capacity building.

Her recent external roles have included the following:

  • Lead Consultant at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2020–present)
  • Technical Advisor to the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPA; 2019–present) and the African Union Disaster Risk Reduction Leadership team (2017–2019)
  • Member of the Editorial Board, International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, Springer (2017–present)
  • Associate Editor, CABI Agriculture & BioScience
  • Global Advisory Panel Member for the DfID-funded REACH programme
  • Invited Member, WHO-WMO ClimHealth Africa Strategic Steering Group(2017–2018)
  • Panel Member KE/Innovation Fellowships for the Natural Environment and Research Council (2014–2017)