Barbara Gemmill Herren | Prescott College

Barbara Gemmill Herren

Academic Statement

Barbara Gemmill-Herren will be developing and teaching a new course in the Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems Program on Food Systems Biodiversity: Ecosystem Services.

Her passions in life come from an overwhelming love of nature, from bees to trees, with bears and elephants included.  She believes that when people can connect with nature, there is a sharing of knowledge that goes well beyond the traditional dichotomies of the natural world versus humanity.  In every community where she has worked, she has always found extraordinary – and innovative -  individuals who innately understand this.

She brings decades of work on-the-ground with local communities and ecosystems in Africa and around the world, paired with many years of finding a space - in the intergovernmental process - for biodiversity, diverse farming systems, and agroecology.

She is an ecologist specializing in agroecology and pollination services, and has coordinated research on pollination, ecological intensification, family farming and agroecology.  In her recent work she has been focused on how the voice and knowledge of farmers – often relegated to anecdotes and case studies – can be fundamental to research and policy on food systems and agriculture.

She is currently serving as a senior advisor to UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Mainstreaming Biodiversity Across All Agricultural Sectors, is a Senior Associate at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya and is on the steering committee of a True Cost Accounting Accelerator initiative of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.  She has been on the project team of the Committee on World Food Security’s High-Level Panel of Experts, producing the 2019 report, “Agroecological and other innovation approaches for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition.” Previously she was Delivery Manager, for the Major Area of Work on Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity at FAO. Prior to her 11 years on the staff of the UN, she was Executive Director of Environment Liaison Centre International, an international environmental non-governmental organization based in Nairobi, Kenya. Within FAO, she built and coordinated a global project on Pollination Services, implemented in Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Nepal.  In her last five years at FAO she was responsible for FAO’s work on Ecosystem Services in Agricultural Production and was central to FAO’s new focus on Agroecology. More recently, she has been a contributor to the UN initiative on “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food” – exploring True Cost Accounting in Agriculture – and has led the “Beacons of Hope” initiative of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.  This initiative seeks to develop a framework bringing together evidence and stories of transitions towards more sustainable food and agriculture systems. 

After twenty-five years living in Africa (Nigeria, Benin and Kenya) and eleven in Rome, Italy, she now lives on a small farm in Capay Valley, California, with her husband, twenty sheep and one cat.


Ph.D, Ecology.  University of California, Davis (June 1992)   

M.Sc., Range Management. University of California, Berkeley (June 1978)

B.A., Earth and Environmental Sciences. Antioch University (June 1975)

  • Garibaldi, L. A., Pérez-Méndez, N., Garratt, M. P. D., Gemmill-Herren, B., Miguez, F. E., & Dicks, L. V. (2019). Policies for Ecological Intensification of Crop Production. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, April 2019, Vol. 34, No. 4.
  • Cunningham, S., Gemmill-Herren, B., Tittonell, P. (2018).  Editors for Special Issue of Global Food Security on Biodiversity, Ecosystems Services and Food Security.
  • Gemmill-Herren, B. et al. (2018). Beacons of Hope: A Sustainability Transitions Framework for Sustainable Food Systems. Global Alliance for the Future of Food.
  • Pengue, W., Gemmill-Herren, B., Balázs, B., Ortega, E., Viglizzo, E., Acevedo, F., Diaz, D.N., Díaz de Astarloa, D., Fernandez, R., Garibaldi, L.A., Giampetro, M., Goldberg, A., Khosla, A. and Westhoek, H. (2018). ‘Eco-agri-foodsystems’: today’s realities and tomorrow’s challenges. In TEEB for Agriculture & Food: Scientific and Economic Foundations. Geneva: UN Environment.
  • Sandhu, H., Gemmill-Herren, B., de Blaeij, A., van Dis, R. and Baltussen, W. (2018). Application of theTEEBAgriFood Framework: case studies for decision-makers. In TEEB for Agriculture & Food: Scientific and Economic Foundations. Geneva: UN Environment
  • D’Annolfo, R., Gemmill-Herren, B., Graeub, B., Garibaldi, L.A. (2017). A review of social and economic performance of agroecology. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. doi: 10.1080/14735903.20171398123
  • Gemmill-Herren, B. (ed.) (2016). Pollination Services to Agriculture: Sustaining and Enhancing a Key Ecosystem Service. Earthscan; Routledge, London and New York.
  • Garibaldi, L.A., Gemmill-Herren, B., D’Annolfo, A., Graeub, B., Cunningham, S.A., Breeze, T.D. 2016.  Farming approaches for greater biodiversity, livelihoods and food security.  Trends in Ecology And Evolution 2167:1-13.
  • Garibaldi, L.A., Carvalheiro L.G., Vaissière B.E., Gemmill-Herren B., Hipólito J., Freitas B.M., Ngo H.T., Azzu N., Sáez A., Åström J., An J., Blochtein B., Buchori D., García F.J.C., Oliveira da Silv F., Devkota K., de Fátima Ribeiro M., Freitas L., Gaglianone M.C., Goss M., Irshad M., Kasina M., Filho A.J.P., Kiill L.H.P.,Kwapong P., Parra G.N., Pires C., Pires V., Rawal R.S., Rizali A., Saraiva A.M., Veldtman R., Viana B.F., Witter S., Zhang H. (2016). Mutually beneficial pollinator diversity and crop yield outcomes in small
and large farms. Science: 351(6271): 388-391.
  • Garbach, K., Milder, J.C., DeClerck, F., Montenegro, M. Driscoll, L., and Gemmill-Herren, B. (2016). Examining multi-functionality for crop yield and ecosystem services in five systems of agroecological intensification. Intl. Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. (2016) doi:10.1080/14735903.2016.1174810
  • Graeub, B. E., Chappel, M.J., Wittman, H., Lederman, S., Bezner-Kerr, R., Gemmill-Herren, B. (2016). The State of Family Farms in the World. World Development (2016),
  • Hussain, S. et al. (2015). Agroecology and The Economics Of Ecosystems And Biodiversity: The Devil Is In The Detail. In: Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition. 308-23. FAO., Rome
  • Rader R., Bartomeus I., Garibaldi L.A., Garratt M.P.D, Howlett B.G., Winfree R., Cunningham S.A., Mayfield M.M., Arthur A.D., Andersson G.K.S., Bommarco R., Brittain C., Carvalheiro L.G., Chacoff N.P., Entling M.H., Foully B., Freitas B.M., Gemmill-Herren, B., Ghazoul J., Griffin S.R., Gross C.L., Herbertsson L., Herzog F., Hipólito J., Jaggar S., Jauker F., Klein A.-M., Kleijn D., Krishnan S., Lemos C.Q., Lindström S.A.M., Mandelik Y., Monteiro V.M., Nelson W., Nilsson L., Pattemore D.E., Pereira N.d.O., Pisanty G., Potts S.G., Reemer M., Rundlöf M., Sheffield C.S., Scheper J., Schüepp C., Smith H.G., Stanley D.A., Stout J.C., Szentgyörgyi H., Taki H., Vergara C.H., Viana B.F., Woyciechowski M. (2015) Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci, November 2015 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1517092112
  • Garbach K., vu Thanh T.A., Buchori D., Ravenera R., Boualaphanh C., Ketelaar J.W., Gemmill-Herren, B.  (2014). The multiple good and services of Asian rice production systems.  FAO, Rome.
  • "Keynote: Knowledge from Agroecological Experience" Conference on Ways of Knowing for Assessing and Monitoring Agrobiodiversity and Food Security, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, May 30, 2019.
  • "A Holistic Lens on Rice Value Chain Pathways in Senegal: Application of ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food' Framework. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Agriculture & Food Global Symposium, Nairobi, Kenya, February 2019.
  • "Keynote: Beacons of Hope:  Harnessing Lessons for Transitions to Sustainable Food Systems" G-STIC (Global Sustainable Technology and Innovation Conference) – Agroecology for Sustainable Food Systems Stream, Brussels, Belgium, November 2018.
  • "Changing Course in Global Agriculture" University of California, Berkeley. GLOBAL 123; Perspectives for Sustainable Rural Development in Latin America. October 17, 2018.
  • "Economic and Sustainability Frameworks for Food and Agriculture" Agralogics Food Leaders Technology Summit. Presidio, San Francisco July 19, 2018. 
  • "Keynote: Implementing Agroecological Solutions: On the wings of pollinators" Green Mountain College, February 21, 2018
  • "Changing Course in Global Agriculture" University of California, Davis, Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture, June 6, 2018 and June 7, 2017.
  • "Crop Management Friendly to Pollinators: the Global Perspective" International Congress of Entomology, Orlando, Florida, September 2016. 
  • "Pollination: A Key Agroecological Function" International Symposium on Agroecology for sustainable agriculture and food systems, Kunming, China, August 2016.
  • "Pollination and Pollinators: Why Should the Food Industry Worry?" Culinary Institute of America and University of California, Davis, 13th Annual Flavor, Quality & American Menus Leadership Forum, August 2016.  August 25 - 27, 2016, Napa Valley, CA.
  • "Agroecology Enters the Vocabulary of the United Nations" Berkeley Food Institute, Diversified Farming Systems Roundtable, University of California, Berkeley. February 8, 2016."FAO Learning Platforms and Knowledge Sharing on Agroecology" Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Agroecology in Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand, 24 November 2015.
  • "Mainstreaming Biodiversity into the Agriculture Sector" International Workshop on Mainstreaming Biodiversity (COP 13 CBD): Mexico City, Mexico 17-19 November 2015.
Awards, Grants, & Honors
  • National Merit Scholar, 1970
  • California State Governor’s Scholar, 1971
  • First Alternate, Fulbright Scholarship, 1981
  • Zayed Environmental Prize (for Millennium Ecosystem Assessment authors), 2006