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Former Sussex Vice-Chancellor honoured with top geographical prize
Her Majesty the Queen has approved the award of one of the highest honours of its kind in the world to a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex.
The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) has awarded its Founder’s Medal to Professor Sir Gordon Conway for his work in agricultural development.
Presented since 1832, the Founder’s Medal is one of two Royal Medals of the Royal Geographical Society. Past recipients include broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and conservationist Sir Peter Scott.
Professor Conway, who was the Vice-Chancellor at Sussex from 1992-98 and is now at the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London, is awarded the prize for his work on the enhancement and promotion of agricultural development in Asia and Africa.
He trained in agricultural ecology, and in the early 1960s, while working in Sabah, North Borneo, he became one of the pioneers of sustainable agriculture.
Professor Conway was the Director of Agriculture for Impact (A4I), an independent advocacy initiative aiming to enable better European government support for productive, sustainable and resilient agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing in particular on the needs of smallholder farmers.
He is now Senior Advisor to A4I’s successor, the Malabo Montpellier Panel, which is a group of international agriculture experts who guide policy choices towards food and nutritional security in Africa.
While Professor Conway was Vice-Chancellor at Sussex, he wrote Doubly Green Revolution: Food for All in the Twenty-First Century. Initially published in 1997, the book sets out an agenda for addressing the fact that more than three quarters of a billion people go hungry in a world where food is plentiful. Stressing the need for conservation as well as productivity, the latest edition (20 years on) includes updated information to reflect current economic indicators.
Professor Conway, a former President of the Royal Geographical Society, said: “I am greatly honoured by this award. The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is vital to our pursuit of geographical knowledge and I am humbled to be have my research recognised by it.
“Although by training and experience I am an agricultural ecologist, I am an applied geographer at heart. My mother was a geography school teacher, so the subject is in my genes.”
Broadcaster, writer and geographer Nicholas Crane, President of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: “Professor Sir Gordon Conway is a world leader in international development and one of the world’s foremost experts on food security and the sustainable development of agricultural land.
“For over 50 years, Sir Gordon has worked to improve the lives of millions through his pioneering research, leadership of major organisations, and advice to government on sustainable development.”
Presentation of the Royal Medals will take place on 5 June at the Royal Geographical Society’s AGM in Kensington, London.