John Beddington


Former UK Chief Scientific Advisor

Sir John Beddington is the Senior Adviser to the Oxford Martin School and Professor of Natural Resource Management at Oxford University.

He was from 2008 until 2013 the Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) reporting directly to the Prime Minister. As GCSA, he led on providing scientific advice to Government during the 2009 swine flu outbreak, the 2010 volcanic ash incident and the emergency at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011.

As GCSA, he was also responsible for increasing the scientific capacity across Whitehall by encouraging all major departments of state to recruit a Chief Scientific Adviser.

Throughout 2008 and 2009 Sir John raised the concept of the “Perfect Storm” of food, energy and water security in the context of climate change, gaining considerable media attention and raising this as a priority in the UK and internationally.

During 2011 he chaired an International Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change.

Prior to his appointment as GCSA, he was Professor of Applied Population Biology and headed the main departments of environmental science and technology at Imperial College.

A specialist in the application of economics and biology to particular problems in the management of fisheries and other renewable resources, Sir John has previously been advisor to a number of UK Government departments including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office.

He has also advised several Governments and international bodies including the Australian, New Zealand and US Governments, the European Commission, the United Nations Environment Programme and Food and Agriculture Organisation.

He was, for six years, a member of the Natural Environment Research Council. In June 1997 he was awarded the Heidelberg Award for Environmental Excellence; in 2001 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2004 he was awarded the Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George by Her Majesty the Queen and in June 2010 was awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

He attended the London School of Economics, gaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics, and later a Master of Science degree within the Philosophy Department then headed by Sir Karl Popper. In 1973 he obtained a PhD in Population Biology from the University of Edinburgh.

"Agriculture is going to be key to bring people out of poverty but also to improve the nutrition of people who have a terrible diet at the present."