Accessibility statement

Dr Jessica Thorn
Research Associate



Dr. Jessica Thorn is a Research Associate working with Prof. Marchant on the Development Corridors Partnership, supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund. Concurrently, she holds an African Women in Climate Change Science fellowship (AWiCCS), and Climate Research 4 Development fellowship hosted by the African Climate and Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town, supported by the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences. She combines participatory scenario analysis, probabilistic social-ecological modelling, multi-scalar institutional analysis, and ecosystem service quantification to measure potential impacts of Chinese foreign direct investment in transportation corridors in East Africa on ecosystem service provisioning, livelihoods, and social coherence.  She is also interested in the synergies and trade-offs of ecological infrastructure in peri-urban areas in Tanzania and Namibia. As a postdoctoral researcher she worked with Prof. Julia Klein at Colorado State University and Prof. Adrienne Grêt-Regamey at ETH Zurich. She operated within a National Science Foundation-funded research project, the Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network, to employ probabilistic models and climate and land use scenarios to assess the potential impact of climatic and demographic change on local actor decisions and ecosystem service provisioning. In this role, she regularly communicated with scientists and practitioners from around the world, using datasets from Tibet, Switzerland and Kenya.

Born in Namibia, Jessica draws from fifteen years of work experience, travelling to over 60 countries.  She gained her BSocSci (Hons) from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, in psychology and environmental and geographical science, and her MSc from the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford. She was awarded a scholarship to complete her DPhil at the Biodiversity Institute, Oxford. After conducting research and working with a community-based organization (CBO) to access housing for 164 poor urban dwellers in the City of Cape Town, Jessica worked as coordinator of the Climate Action Partnership of Conservation International. Here, she managed eight conservation programs across South Africa using landscape approaches for climate mitigation and adaptation. She then was selected as a Young Scholar for Humanitarian Aid for the UN International Strategy on Disaster Risk Reduction and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. She worked on urban flooding in Nairobi and Western Kenya. Her PhD took her to South Asia (Terai Plains of Nepal, Central India) and West Africa (Northern Ghana), where she quantified the impact of climate change on ecosystem service provisioning, biodiversity and wellbeing in smallholder farmer agro-ecosystems. As part of this work with the CGIAR Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security, Jessica facilitated national- and community-level governance workshops related to themes of food security, water and soil management. She developed and trialed methodologies for climate adaptation, designed training modules, established women’s cooperatives, early childhood development centers and regional diverse, plausible scenarios. She has similarly conducted research for the Centre for International Forestry Research, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, Cambridge, London School of Economics, Brown University, University of Cape Town, and the Western Cape Government.  Working in the policy-research interface, Jessica sits on advisory boards for CBOs in Kenya, Nepal, Peru and South Africa. She is an elected CSO member of the Global Environmental Facility; has advocated for ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Mexico; is a contributing author to The Economic of Ecosystems and Biodiversity reports, and has managed organic horticultural production and reforestation programs in Peru. Jessica has taught international courses in Global Biodiversity Trade and Indigenous Communities, Field Ecology, Wildland Ecosystems, Urban Geography, Global Challenges for the 21 st Century, and Cities of the South.  For this work she has received over 20 awards, fellowships, and grants, including the League of European Research Universities leadership award, Brettschneider (Cornell), Mind the Environmental Gap (Oxford), and the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Seal of Excellence (European Commission).



Key skills and interests

Participatory Scenario Planning; Systematic reviews; Participatory Rural Appraisal; Appreciative inquiry; Space-for-time substitution; Ethnographies; Managing large open source spatial-temporal datasets; Social-ecological systems; Global environmental change; Climate impacts assessment, ecology and adaptation; Ecosystem services; Land-use planning; Functional diversity; Food security; Agro-ecology; Decision-making under uncertainty; Indigenous ecological knowledge; Urban disaster resilience; Mountain systems


Measuring the impact of Covid-19 on African informal settlements

Aim: Through the Peri-Urban Resilient Ecosystem (PURE) project, Yth aim is to help residents, community-based organisations, shack dweller federations, and government bodies evaluate the current pandemic in informal settlements and improve their preparations for future disease outbreaks. The team is currently helping to administer a survey of 4,500 households across Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia to gather residents’ views on the way the coronavirus outbreak has been handled, their perception of risk, the impact the pandemic has had on their livelihoods and how they have tackled the virus at an individual level.

Donor:  Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Improving outcomes for people and biodiversity in the South-East Africa Montane Archipelago (SEAMA) (2020-2021)

Aim: To quantify the potential hydrological impacts of forest loss at several sites in the South-East Africa Montane Archipelago (SEAMA), assess provisioning and cultural ecosystem services, and changes in their use and availability over the recent past and facilitate  participatory workshops to engage local communities and authorities in planning for the future, considering diverse, plausible scenarios (e.g., business-as-usual, sustainable forest-use scenarios, good governance. 
Donor:  Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
Up in smoke: Exploring future trade-offs between livelihoods, carbon and biodiversity in tobacco-cultivated landscapes, in Mbeya, South western Tanzania (2020-2021)
Aim: In south-western Tanzania, which is the second higher producer of tobacco in Africa which causes high deforestation, this project aims to support the shift to alternative incomes, and farming methods so tobacco cultivation can be made more sustainable, using data from participatory scenario planning, key informant interviews and surveys  to develop a decision support tool with local companies and other actors to secure sustainable land use social ecological futures. 
Donor: Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
Learning from Cyclone Idai: Response, recovery and future risk (2019)
Aim: This project examines the ways that existing vulnerabilities to disasters are related to energy provision and use. Understanding how energy generation and use leads to vulnerability, in addition to understanding how energy is used to recover from extreme weather events, is critical to increasing future resilience.
Donor:  Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Building resilience to climate shocks: improving the energy infrastructure for economic development and wellbeing in Mozambique  (2020-) 

Aim: This project will identify critical gaps in Mozambique’s energy infrastructure to inform ongoing reconstruction efforts and enable the development of a resilient energy system.

Donor: Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)  

Peri-Urban Resilient Ecosystems (PURE): Catalysing participation through innovation to strengthen rural-urban climate resilient futures in Namibia  (2020-)  

Aim: Support the development of just and representative climate resilient urban strategies in dryland Windhoek, Namibia, by applying a pluralistic values framework and participatory scenarios planning and considering rural-peri-urban linkages

Donor: Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) 

Climate Research 4 Development/ African Women in Climate Change Science fellowship - Urban-ecolution (2018-)

Aim: Predict synergies and trade-offs of water-related ecological infrastructure for climate adaptation in peri-urban areas in Namibia and Tanzania

Donor: Canada International Development Research Centre, UN Economic Commission for Africa,  Climate Research 4 Development with the Next Einstein Initiative African Institute of Mathematical Sciences and University of Cape Town African Climate and Development Initiative

Development Corridors Partnership (2017-)

Aim: Enhance the relevance and quality of the development corridor; research being done in eastern Africa on ecosystem services, scenario analysis and livelihoods analysis, and link the research in eastern Africa to the work of Chinese research institutions advising on development

Donor: Economic and Social Research Council Global Challenges Research Fund

Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network (2016-)

Aim: Explore and evaluate transdisciplinary participatory social-ecological modelling frameworks for mountains globally, and link science with policy and practice

Donor: US National Science Foundation Coupled Natural-Human Systems, Colorado State University

Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (2016)

Aim: Quantitatively model ecosystem ecophysiology and biogeochemical cycling, including carbon
sequestration and leaf hydrology

Donor: University of York Ecosystems Lab, School of Geography and Environment

Arts, Science and a Thirsty World (2014-2015)

Aim: Promote interdisciplinary dialogue on creative visual, literary and musical arts responses to the global
water crisis

Donor: The Oxford Research Centre for Humanities, Brettschneider Fellowship Cornell University

Systemic Integrated Adaptation (2012-2016)

Aim: Assess ecosystem services, biodiversity and human wellbeing along climatic gradients in smallholder agro- ecosystems in the Terai Plains of Nepal and Northern Ghana

Donors: CGIAR Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security Adaptation to Long-term climate change - Systemic Integrated Adaptation, University of Oxford Biodiversity Institute, Department of Zoology, and Merton College, British Ecological Society

The effectiveness of on-farm conservation land management (2013-2015)

Aim: Systematic map of the evidence that exists for the effectiveness of on‑farm conservation land management strategies for preserving ecosystem services in developing countries

Donors: Centre for International Forestry Research Evidence-based Initiative, University of Oxford Biodiversity Institute, Department of Zoology, and Merton College

Autonomous adaptation to global environmental change in peri-urban settlements (2010-2014)

Aim: Investigate dynamics of adaptation and risk reduction at the level of the community, using the case study of Mathare Valley Slums, Nairobi

Donors: Department for International Development - Overseas Development Initiative; Climate and Development Knowledge Network, Oxford Bullock Award, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, United Nations International Strategy on Disaster Risk Reduction, Rhodes Trust Southern African Fund

Lived experience of land occupation in Zille Raine Heights (2007-2014)

Aim: Through experiences of land occupiers in Cape Town, explore an informal settlement’s attempts to gain legal right to the land and the state’s attempts to eradicate the settlement and relocate residents to the edge of the city.

Donors: National Research Fund of South Africa, International Labour Research and Information Group (South Africa), Contesting body politics, University of Cape Town Department of Environmental and Geographical Science

Climate Action Partnership (2009-2010)

Aim: Review lessons learnt from landscape approaches to climate adaptation and mitigation by the conservation sector in South Africa

Donor: Conservation South Africa

Regional bodies of state (2009)

Aim: Review donor perspectives of the role of regional organizations in peace and security across Africa

Donor: London School of Economics, University of Cape Town Department of Environmental and Geographical Science

Racial integration in post-apartheid South Africa (2008-2009)

Aim: Explore the social, economic and political drivers of racial integration which have occurred over the last fifteen years in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg

Donor: Brown University Department of Sociology

State of substance abuse service delivery (2008)

Aim: Review the effectiveness of substance abuse service delivery in the Western Cape, South Africa

Donor: Provincial Government of South Africa Department of Social Development

Research group(s)

York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems (KITE)
Conservation in Action

Research assistants
Penalao Nongolo (Namibia)
Yariwa Cheptoo (Kenya)
Lilian Khaemba (Kenya)
Benjamin Mwangi (Kenya)
Alpha Lutta (Kenya)
George Owira (Kenya)
Mary Mwangi (Kena)
Francis Kago (Kenya)
Saima Haukelo (Namibia)
Michael Mdongwe (Tanzania)
Rebeca Biancardi (South Africa)
Erica Ndayaamena (Namibia)
Tokelo Shai (South Africa)
Marlin Fortuin (South Africa)
Deogratious Kayumba (South Africa)
Binay Mahargen (Nepal)
Perey Yambopone (Ghana)
Renu Shakya (Nepal)
Anita Bake (Nepal)
Dev Kala Dumre (Nepal)
Fabisa Novia (Kenya)
Katherine Seigal (UK)
Gabrielle Cummings (UK)
Rachel Friedman (UK)
Abigail Motley (UK)
Emily Slnkular (USA)
Alyssa Allen (USA)
Dani Palm (USA)


Jey Gnanem (PhD) Can hybridized ecotourism development make vulnerable post-conflict communities more resilient against spatial impacts? (With Prof. Rob Marchant and Corrado Topi)

Sha Chen (PhD) Exploring ecosystem service trade-offs and synergies associated with urbanizing variation in Yangtze River Delta, China (with Prof Rob Marchant) 

Hamido Seki (PhD) Spill over land use effects and livelihood sustainability in extractive mining areas, University of York, Department of Environment and Geography (with Prof. Rob Marchant and Dr. Andrew Marshall)

Tyler Breen (MA) Mapping potential livelihood benefits from local ecosystem services in the Elangata Wuas social-ecological system: Kajiado, Kenya, Emory University, Masters in Development Practice

Amayaa Wijesinghe (MSc) The potential of green areas for urban resilience in south western Africa: challenges and opportunities in the peri-urban informal settlements of Windhoek, Namibia, U. of Oxford, Masters of Biodiversity Conservation and Management,  

Valentina Giombini (MSc) Urban green spaces in formal and informal areas in a capital city of Southern Africa: Urban inequality and the potential for sustainable urbanization in Windhoek, U. of Oxford, Masters of Environmental Change and Management


Full publications list

Journal articles

Thorn, J. P. R., Biancardi Aleu, R., Wijesinghe, A., Mdongwe, M., Marchant, R. A., and Shackleton, S. (2021) Mainstreaming nature-based solutions for climate adaptation in peri-urban settlements in Namibia and Tanzania. Landscape and Urban Planning. 216:104235.

Kaganzi, K., Cuni-Sanchez, A. Macharazo, F., Martin, E., Marchant, R., and Thorn, J. P. R. (2021) Local perceptions of climate change and adaptation responses in two mountains in Tanzania. Land. I 10(10), 999;

Mbizo, M., Newing, H., and Thorn, J. P. R. (2021) Can nationally prescribed institutional arrangements enable community conservation? An analysis of conservancies and community forests in Namibia. Sustainability.  13(19), 10663;

Angula, M. N., Mogotsi, I., Lendelvo, S., Aribeb, K., Iteta, A.-M., and Thorn, J. P. R. (2021) Strengthening gender responsiveness of the Green Climate Fund ecosystem-based adaptation programme in Namibia. Sustainability. 13(18), 10162;

Scheren, P.; Tyrrell, P.; Brehony, P.; Allan, J.R.; Thorn, J.; Chinho, T.; Katerere, Y.; Ushie, V.; Worden, J.S. (2021) Defining Pathways towards African Ecological Futures. Sustainability, 13, 8894.

Chen, S.,  Li, G., Zhuo, Y., Xu, Z.,Ye, Y., Thorn, J. P. R., Marchant, R., (2021) Trade-offs and synergies of ecosystem services in the Yangtze River Delta, China: response to urbanising variation. Urban Ecosystems. 10.1007/s11252-021-01150-2

Wijesinghe, A., and Thorn, J. P. R. (2021). Governance of urban green infrastructure governance in Windhoek, Namibia. Sustainability. 13(16)8937.

Juffe Bignoli, D., Burgess, N. D.,  Hobbs, J., Smith, R. J., Tam, C., Thorn, J. P. R., and Bull, J. W. (2021) Mitigating the impacts of development corridors on biodiversity: a global review. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 9:447 

Thorn, J. P. R., Klein, J. A., Steger, C. E., Hopping, K. A., Capitani, C., Tucker, C. M., Reid, R. S., and Marchant, R. (2021). Scenario archetypes reveal risks and opportunities for mountain futures. Global Environmental Change. 69: 102291

Steger,  C. E., Klein, J. A., Reid, R. S., Lavorel, S., Tucker, C.M., Hopping, K.A., Marchant, R., Teel, T., Cuni-Sanchez, A., Dorji, T., Greenwood, G., Huber, R., Kasam, K., Kreuer, D., Nolin, A. W., Russell, A., Sharp, J.L., Šmid-Hribar, M., Thorn, J. P. R. , Grant, G., Mahdi, M., and Waiswa, D..  (2021) Science with Society: Evidence-based Guidance for Best Practices in Environmental Transdisciplinary Work. Global Environmental Change.68(10) 102240.

Steger, S.; Hirsch, S.; Cosgrove, C.; Inman, S.; Nost, E.; Shinbrot, X., Thorn, J. P. R., Brown, D. G., Grêt-Regamey, A., Müller, B., Reid, R. S., Tucker, C., Weibel, B., and Klein, J. A. (2021) Linking model design and application for transdisciplinary approaches in social-ecological systems, Global Environmental Change, 66.

Thorn, J. P. R., J. A. Klein, C. Steger, K. A. Hopping, C. Capitani, C. M. Tucker, A. W. Nolin, R. S. Reid, R. Seidl, V. S. Chitale, and R. Marchant. 2020. A systematic review of participatory scenario planning to envision mountain social-ecological systems futures. Ecology and Society 25(3):6.

Thorn, J. P. R., Thornton, T. F., Helfgott, A., and Willis, K. J. (2020) Indigenous uses of wild and tended plant biodiversity maintain ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes of the Terai Plains of Nepal. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 16 (33) 1-25. 

Badu, K., Thorn, J.P.R., Goonoo, N., Dukhi, N., Fagbamigbe, A. F., Kulohoma, B. W., Oyebola, K., Abdelsalam, S. I., Doorsamy, W., Awe, O., Sylverken, A. A., Egeru, A., and Gitaka. J. (2020). Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: A review of the nature of the virus, impacts and implications for preparedness [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review] AAS Open Res 2020, 3:19 (

Newman. R. J. S., Capitani, C., Courtney‐Mustaphi, C., Thorn, J. P. R., Kariuki, R., Enns, C., and Marchant, R. (2020). Integrating insights from social‐ecological interactions into sustainable land use change scenarios for small islands in the Western Indian Ocean. Sustainability. 12 (4):1340. 

Achieng, C. O., Mulwa, R., Kibugi, R., Thorn, J. P. R., and Oguge, N. (2019). Prospects of scenario planning for Kenya's protected ecosystems: An example of Mount Marsabit. Current Research in Environmental Sustainability. In press. 

Thorn, J. P. R. (2019). Adaptation “from below” to species distribution, habitat and climate-driven changes in agro-ecosystems in the Terai Plains of Nepal. AMBIO. 1-16.

Klein, J., Tucker, C., Nolin, A., Hopping, K., Reid, R., Steger, C., Grêt-Regamey, A., Lavorel, S., Weibel, B., Brunner, S., Müller, B., Yeh, E., Boone, R., Bourgeron, P., Butsic, V., Castellanos, E., Chen, X., Dong, S., Greenwood, G., Keller, M., Marchant, R., Seidl, R., Spies, T., Thorn, J. P. R.  and Yager, K. (2019). Catalyzing transformations to sustainability in mountain social-ecological systems. Earth’s Future. 7, 547-557.

Klein, J. A., Tucker, C. M., Nolin, A., Reid, R., Thorn, J., et al. (2019). An integrated community and ecosystem-based approach to disaster risk reduction in mountain systems. Environmental Science and Policy. 94(4) 143-152.

McIntosh, E. J., Chapman, S., Kearney, S. G., Williams, B., Althor, G., Thorn, J. P. R., Pressey, R. L., McKinnon, M. C., and Grenyer, R. (2018). Absence of evidence for the conservation outcomes of systematic conservation planning around the globe: A systematic map. Environmental Evidence. 7(2) 1-23.

Friedman, R., Law, E., Bennett, N., Ives, C., Thorn, J. P. R., and Wilson, K. (2018). The how just? Reviewing the social equity concept in conservation research. Environmental Research Letters. 13 (5) 1-13.

Thorn, J. P. R., Friedman, R., Benz, D., Willis, K. J. and Petrokofsky, G. (2016). What evidence exists for the effectiveness of on-farm conservation land management strategies for preserving ecosystem services in developing countries? A systematic map. Environmental Evidence. 5(13): 1-29.

Thorn, J., Snaddon, J., Kok, K., Waldron, A., Zhou, W., Bhagwat, S., Willis, K. J., and Petrokofsky, G. (2015). How effective are on-farm conservation land management strategies for preserving ecosystem services in developing countries? A systematic map protocol. Environmental Evidence. 4(11): 1-12.

Thorn, J. P. R., Thornton, T. F and Helfgott, A. (2015). Autonomous adaptation to global environmental change in peri-urban settlements: Evidence of a growing culture of innovation and revitalisation in Mathare Valley Slums, Nairobi. Global Environmental Change, 31 (March): 121-131.

Thorn, J. and Oldfield. S. (2012). A politics of land occupation:  a perspective on state practice and everyday mobilisation in Zille Raine Heights, Cape Town. Journal of African Studies, 46 (5): 518-530.

Bourke, L., Butcher, S., Chisonga, N., Clarke, J., Davies, F, and Thorn. J. (2009). Fieldwork stories: negotiating positionality, power and purpose. Feminist Africa, 13: 95-105.

Book chapters and training manuals

Giombini, V., and Thorn, J. P. R. (In press). Overcoming unequal access to urban green spaces in a post-apartheid city: Challenges and opportunities for nature-based solutions”. In:  Misiūnė, I., Lukas, E. K., and Daniel, D. Exploring the Multiple Values of Nature - Connecting Ecosystems and People across Landscapes.

Thorn, J., Thornton, T.,  Helfgott, A and Willis, K. J. (2020). Indigenous ecological and ethno-medicinal knowledge of smallholders in multifunctional landscapes. Thornton, T. F., and Bhagwhat, S. (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Indigenous Environmental Knowledge. Routledge: United Kingdom.

Jones, E., Arango, D., Ramirez-Villegas, J., M., Bonilla, O., Bailey, M., Chaudhury, A., Sova, C., Thorn, J., Helfgott, A., and Jarvis, A. (2014). Farms of the future guidelines. Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

Thorn, J. P. R., and Benson, K. (2009). Training manual on lessons from Zille-Raine Heights informal settlement for housing activists. International Labour Research and Information Group: South Africa.


Thorn, J. P. R., Hejnowicz, A. P., Gueye, A (eds.). 2020. Innovations and Interdisciplinary Solutions for Underserved Areas 4th EAI International Conference, InterSol 2020, Nairobi, Kenya, March 8-9, 2020, Proceedings.

Policy and official reports

Thorn, J. P. R., Mangeiri, C., Olago, D., and Otto, M. (In press). Climate proofing infrastructure and infrastructure services. Global Environmental Outlook 6 Business Brief, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya. 

Mugabe, J.; Kulohoma, B. W.; Matoke-Muhia, D.; Ubalijoro, E.; Fagbamigbe, F.A.; Mwaura, G.; Gitaka, J.; Thorn, J. P. R.; Badu, K.; Muchie, M.; Dukhi, N.; Ndung’u, T.; Muposhi, V. K. Bouhaouala-Zahar, B.; Sogbanmu, T. (2020) Securing Africa’s health sovereignty: Why investing in science and innovation matters. AAS Working Paper. Nairobi: August 2020. 

Wijesinghe, A and Thorn, J., Peri Urban Resilient Ecosystems launch and stakeholder consultation. University of Cape Town African Climate and Development Initiative and the University of York Department of Environment and Geography, Cape Town, South Africa, 2020. 

Thorn, J. P. R. and Wijesinghe, A., Report of Urban Ecolution Participatory Scenario Planning Workshop. Cape Town, South Africa:  University of Cape Town African Climate and Development Initiative and the University of York Department of Environment and Geography, 2019.

Manoti, L., Desta, M., Gebrekirstos, A., Oluyende, A., Nyambane, A., Thorn, J. P. R., et al. (2020) African Academy of Sciences Priority Areas of Support on Climate Change and Development in Africa: Outcome Document of the AAS Climate Change Experts Consultative Meeting. African Academy of Sciences Working group on climate change and the environment. Nairobi, Kenya: African Academy of Sciences

Zhang, W. Bassi, A., DeClerck,F., Gowdy, J., Santamaria, M., Thorn, J. P. R., Adegboyega, A., Calvo Hernandez, C., Walker, D., et al. (2018) Systems thinking for eco-agri-food systems, and the need for TEEBAGRIFOOD Evaluation framework. TEEB Report.

Thorn, J. P. R. and Kawanga, V. (2017) Global Environmental Facility Civil Society Organization Expanded Constituency Report 2017. Global Environmental Facility. Swaziland, February.

RBG Kew (2016) State of the world’s plants - report. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.          

Thorn, J. P. R. (2013) Impact evaluation for Farms of the Future, Nepal and Systemic Integrated Adaptation. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Copenhagen, Denmark. October.

Thorn, J. P. R., Helfgott, A., Chaudhury, A., Sova. C., and Bailey, M. (2012-5) Systemic Integrated Adaptation. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Copenhagen, Denmark. (six reports).

Thorn, J. P. R. (2011) An energy resource assessment of non-grid electrification to deliver ICT to rural schools: Zabasa Secondary School, Eastern Cape of South Africa. Household Energy Network. May.

Thorn, J. P. R. and Marais, S. (2010) Lessons learnt from ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation in South Africa. Conservation International. South Africa. April.

Thorn, J. P. R. (2009) State of substance abuse service delivery in the Western Cape. Provincial Government Department of Social Development, Sub-directorate of Substance Abuse. Cape Town. June.

Thorn, J. P. R. (2008) Urban transformation and racial integration in post-apartheid South Africa – the case of Sybrand Park and Eastridge suburbs in Cape Town.  Department of Sociology of Brown University. November.

Thorn, J. P. R. and Nathan, L. (2008) Donor perspectives on the role of regional organizations in peace and security. London School of Economics, University of Cape Town. May. 

Papers published in refereed conference proceedings 

Thorn, J. P. R., Indigenous and scientific knowledge of soil regulation services, and factors effecting decision-making in the Terai Plains of Nepal, EAI International Conference on Innovations and Interdisciplinary Solutions for Underserved Areas: Cairo, Egypt: EAI, 2020.

Thorn, J. P. R., Snaddon, J., Mann, D. and Willis, K. J., Potential impact of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem function: The case of dry season vegetable farms in Northern Ghana, InterSol 2018: EAI International Conference on Innovations and Interdisciplinary Solutions for Underserved Areas: Kigali, Rwanda: EAI: 2018.

Thorn, J. P. R., Snaddon, J., Waldron, A., Kok, K., Zhou, W., Bhagwat, S., Willis, K., and Petrokofsky, G. How effective are on-farm conservation land management strategies for preserving ecosystem services in developing countries? A systematic map protocol. XIV World Forestry Congress: Durban, South Africa: 2015.

Reid, H., Christensen, K., Dodman, D., Huq, S., Singh, H., Suarez, P., Thorn, J. P. R., et al., Community-based Adaptation, 6th International Conference Proceedings, Hanoi, Vietnam: IIED: 2012.

Policy Briefs 

Conway, D., Siderius, C., Geressu, R., Kashaigili, J., Thorn, J. P. R., Kolusu, S., Todd, M., Marchant, R. and Harou, J. (2021) Climate change impacts – implications for policy and practice in Tanzania’s Rufiji River Basin. FCFA Technical Brief. CDKN: Cape Town.

Thorn, J. P. R., Kavonic, J., Hejnowicz, A., Marchant, R., Cinderby, S., Mueller, A., Ajala, O. (2021). Dryland nature-based solutions for informal settlement schemes in Africa upgrading. ICLEI Africa: Cape Town. Policy brief

Thorn, J. P. R., Kavonic, J., Hejnowicz, A., Marchant, R., Cinderby, S., Mueller, A., Ajala, O. (2021). Socially inclusive and innovative policy making for climate resilient urban strategies in Africa. ICLEI Africa: Cape Town. Policy brief.

Wijesinghe, A and Thorn, J. P. R. (2020). Mainstreaming ecosystem-based adaptation into climate resilience strategies for informal settlements in Windhoek, Namibia. University of Cape Town, African Climate and Development Initiative: Cape Town.  Policy brief

Capitani, C., Thorn, J. P. R., Seki, H., Kariuki, R., Marchant, R. (2019) Kesho Participatory Scenario Planning Tool. University of York: York. Policy brief.

Media engagement

Thorn, J. P. R. and Marchant, R. (2021). ‘Community ‘voice’ should guide expanding African cities. March. Press release.

Thorn, J. P. R. (2019). UN International Day for Biodiversity. Next Einstein Forum Media Interview for the Medium, May. 

Thorn, J. P. R. (2019) Responses to the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land. August. University of York Media commentary, August. 

Thorn, J. P. R. and Friedman, R.  (2018). Working out what’s fair in conservation in sub-Saharan Africa”. The Conversation. Article. September. 

Thorn, J. P. R. (2018). Opportunities for sustainable investments in Africa in a changing climate. The Herzlia Association Alumni Newsletter. Magazine article. April. 

Thorn, J. (2015). Adapting to a thirsty world (We live with the fear every day that our family will be swept away by the river). Postmaster the Merton Record. September. Magazine article, September.  

Thorn, J. P. R. (2012). Water security and climate change. Veld and Flora Botanical Society of South Africa. Veld and Flora Magazine, p 96 (2) 66, June. 

Thorn, J. P. R. (2010). Working together for a secure future of South Africa’s water resources. Environment Magazine. p. 78-79, August.

Conference posters

Thorn, J. P. R., Hejnowicz, A., Kavonic, J., Ajala, O., Shackleton, S., Marchant, R., Delgado, G., Muller, Cinderby, S. (2021). Dryland nature-based solutions for peri-urban settlement upgrading schemes in Africa. COP26 Climate Expo conference on nature based solutions, Glasgow, UK. 

Huggel, C., Allen, S. K., Bhatt, I. D., Chakraborty, R., Drenkhan, F., Marchant, R., Morin, S., Niggli, L., Ochoa, A.,  Postigo, J., Razanatsoa, E., Rudloff,  V., Cuni Sanchez, A.,  Stone, D., Thorn, J. P. R., Viviroli, D. (2021). Anthropogenic climate change detected in natural and human systems of the world’s mountains. European Geosciences Union, Virtual. 

Thorn, J. P. R., Romeu-Dalmau, C., Helfgott, A., and Willis, K. J. (2012). Measuring local ecosystem processes, goods, services, and well-being of small-scale agricultural producers as decision support tool for climate adaptation. British Ecological Society Annual meeting. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

Audio-visual outputs

Thorn, J. P. R. (2020) The future is now if you know where to look. Next Einstein Forum. Video

Thorn, J. P. R. and Bens, D. (2016) Online interactive meta-analysis mapping tool. 

Ponchione, C., Thorn, J.  P. R., and Morrison, B. Arts, Science, and a Thirsty World. (2015) Video installation for the exhibition AQUAE Venezia 2015 “Visualizing Water Worlds”.

Thorn, J. P. R. and Hulme, D. (2013) Waterscape of sounds from Ghana. Audio soundscape presentation, May.

Thorn, J. P. R., Marais, S. (2010). Ug cartoon: local lifestyle innovations for school children. Weekly newspaper inputs for one year in Hilton, South Africa. 


Mdongwe, M. and Thorn, J. P. R. Insights from assessing household perception of Urban Green Infrastructure in the informal settlements of Dar es Salaam. Blog webpage. March 2020.

Wijesinghe, A., and Thorn, J. Launching a research programme to bring diverse stakeholder value systems together for climate-resilient urban development in Central and Northern Namibia. Blog webpage. March 2020.

Wijesinghe, A. and Thorn, J. Using scenario planning to determine development pathways for Windhoek’s informal settlements. Blog webpage. November 2019. 

Thorn, J. P. R. Anticipating the arrival of the Standard Gauge Railway along Lake Victoria. November. Published on the Development Corridors Partnership website Blog webpage, November 2019. 

Wijesinghe, A., and Thorn, J. P. R. Notes from the field: Exploring the potential for ecosystem-based climate adaptation in informal settlements in Windhoek, Namibia. Blog webpage. October 2019. 

Giombini, V., and Thorn, J. P. R. What is the potential of riverbeds in an arid, post-apartheid city adapting to climate change? Blog webpage. October 2019. 

Thorn, J. Participatory Scenario Planning for the Development Corridors Partnership. Blog webpage. September 2019. 

Thorn, J. P. R. and Steger, C. Mountains in Louisiana? Mountain Sentinels’ Reflections on AAG 2018. Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network website. Blog webpage. April 2018. 

Shrestha, K., Thorn, J. P. R. and Klein, J. Building resilience in the Hindu Kush Himalaya and beyond. Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network website. Blog webpage. April 2018. 

Tucker, C., Thorn, J. P. R. and Klein, J. Program on Ecosystem Change and Society Open Science Conference. Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network website. Blog webpage. February 2018. 

Cosgrove, C., Thorn, J. P. R. and Klein J. Up wait creek with a pilot. Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network website. Blog webpage. December 2017. 

Cuni-Sanchez, A., Thorn, J. P. R. and Klein, J. Human needs and wildlife management: Pathways 2017. Mountain Research Initiative website. Blog webpage. November 2017. 

Thorn, J. P. R. Mountain Sentinels hosts a participatory modeling workshop. Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network website. Blog webpage. September 2017. 

Thorn, J. P. R. How the international community can enhance resilience to natural disaster risk. Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory Colorado State University EcoPress. Blog webpage. June 2017. 

Thorn, J. Rice, rain, and harvests: How vision and collaboration can put climate adaptation into action. EcoAgriculture Partners – Landscapes for People Food and Nature. Blog webpage. November 2013. 

Ademiluyi, A. and Thorn, J.  Blind vegetable farming: One calabash at a time. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. Blog webpage. March 2013. 

Sova, C. and Thorn, J. P. R. Believable climate futures explored by Nepalese farmers. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. Blog webpage. December 2012. 

External activities



Contributing author to the International Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report Africa chapter (sections on human settlements, ecosystems and poverty) and Mountains cross-cutting chapter (section on detection and attribution) 
Coordinating  lead author of the UNEP Global Environment Outlook 6 Business Brief on Climate Proofing Instrustructure

Next Einstein Forum Fellow 2019-2021;  African Academy of Sciences Affiliate Member 2020-2024; Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network 2016-2020; British Institute of East Africa 2011-2020; University of Nairobi Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation; African Conservation Centre

Past: American Association of Geographers (Africa and Mountains working groups 2017-2018); Ecosystem Service Partnership (Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction working group) 2017; Global Environmental Facility Expanded Southern African Constituency 2017;  University of Oxford Biodiversity Institute 2012-2016; University of Oxford Environmental Change Institute 2010-2016; South African Geographical Society 2007-2008

Editorial duties

Scientific African Special issue on COVID 19 in Africa (01/2020-2021)
MDPI Sustainability, Environmental policy design and implementation: Toward a sustainable society, Guest editor. (01/2020-2021)
EAI Fourth Interdisciplinary Solutions for Underserved Areas, Editor. (01/2019-04/2020)

Peer reviewed articles for: Environment and Planning D Society and Space, Sustainability MDPI, Ecology and Society, AMBIO, Ecosystem Services, Land Use Policy, Biological Diversity, Environmental Evidence, Agriculture and Food Security, Urban Climate, World Development, Journal of Community Development, Interdisciplinary Solutions for Underserved Areas; International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health; Environment

Grant reviewer for: Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark Danida Fellowship Centre


Contact details

Dr Jessica P.R. Thorn
Department of Environment & Geography
University of York
YO10 5NG

Tel: 01904 324212