Blog In Memory of Peter G. Jones, a Pioneering and Visionary Scientist in Climate Change

The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT acknowledges the lifelong contributions of the researcher and colleague Peter G. Jones, who passed away yesterday in Dolgellau, North Wales.

This distinguished emeritus researcher passed away at the age of 78, leaving behind a legacy of devoted, unwavering, and invaluable contributions to agriculture development, notably in the areas of climate change and crop sciences.

Aside from being a dedicated family man, known for his honesty, integrity, and unwavering adherence to principles, Peter was also an enthusiastic walker and climber. He chose agricultural geography as his profession, which he not only pursued with dedication but also raised to new levels.

"I have always thought that the concept of being pioneers was the most compelling way to describe CIAT's DNA and later the Alliance's. I cannot think of anyone in our more than 50 years of history who embodies the essence of being a pioneer more than Peter Jones. Before spatial sciences, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Big Data were even discussed, Peter was already using them to determine where the Center should prioritize its valuable resources. Before biodiversity was widely recognized, Peter had already developed incredibly sophisticated ways to map it. And long before climate change was on the radar, Peter was concerned about its potential impact on food security," said Andy Jarvis, Director of Future of Food, Bezos Earth Fund, a colleague, and friend of Dr. Jones.

Jones worked at CIAT for nearly 25 years. In the late '90s, Peter and his team created dynamic CD-ROM tools, overlaying different policy scenarios, population projections, climate data, and other parameters onto geographical maps. Over time, these CD-ROMs evolved into web-based tools like Terra-i, which utilizes satellite data to monitor land use change in near real-time across Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Dr. Jones created two programs: FloraMap and MarkSim. The first one was used to identify potential adaptation sites and aid decision-making for conserving plant species and other useful organisms in wildlife, while the second one was used for climate simulation. Afterwards, he led “Homologue”, a combination of the two programs.

"Dr. Peter Jones was a visionary, constantly emphasizing that crops should adapt to climate change, not the other way around. In the '90s, he already dreamed of being able to 'zoom in' on maps to visualize detailed information, something that Google developed years later. In our team, we had a collection of over 7,000 maps, and he was the curator of this map library. Many of these maps, especially those of Africa, were not available in their home countries. This map library was donated to the University of Valle's library as an initiative by Dr. Jones," said Silvia Elena Castaño, a pupil of Jones and now a senior researcher at PISA4IMPACT (DMOS) within the Alliance.

While his heart swelled with pride and gratitude for Colombia, he never abandoned his English customs: he would prepare tea every day at 3:00 p.m. for his team, a time when Peter sought to be closer to his colleagues and collaborators, always with the message: teamwork is essential.

According to Yuviza Barona, his administrative assistant for over 20 years, "Dr. Jones always enjoyed helping his colleagues without seeking recognition. He had unwavering trust in his team, always emphasizing that achievements were not his alone. That speaks volumes about what a great human being he was”.
Andy Jarvis shares the same feelings, concluding: "Outside of work, Peter deeply cared for those around him, always helping to develop people and make them feel at home. Although he has left this planet, his legacy lives on in the DNA of an institution that will forever be pioneering. Thank you, Peter, for all that you taught me, us, and for the impact you had on this world”. 

The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT extends its deepest condolences to the family of Dr. Peter Jones, to his daughter Nancy, and especially to our colleague Idris, the IT Integration and Capacity Development Manager, who inherited his father's commitment and love for the organization.

We also share our condolences with his colleagues, peers, and friends.
Below, you can find more information about Dr. Peter Jones's most significant projects: