Jim Smyle began his career as a soil conservation/reforestation extensionist in Guatemala in 1980. He worked for almost 20 years as a Watershed and Natural Resource Management Specialist in Asia, Latin America, and Africa for the World Bank, which is where he first encountered Vetiver Grass applications as an alternative to structural, on-farm soil conservation technologies in India. Jim and his wife, Joan, started up the Latin America Vetiver Network in the mid-1990s, and since 2011 he has been the Chairman and President of The Vetiver Network International, a non-profit. He continues to work as an independent consultant for international development agencies (World Bank, IFAD, FAO, Asian Development Bank) in areas of environmental management, climate change adaptation, watershed management, forestry, and natural resources governance, and with the Tenure Facility for securing and strengthening the customary collective land and forest rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
The Vetiver System: a toolkit in support of community-led, climate change adaptation.
Poor rural communities in the Global South need practical and affordable means to adapt and prosper given the huge challenges posed by climate change. Public sector-driven, “planned adaptation” initiatives simply will not reach most of them in time. The scale of the problem is too big. Given this reality, communities must be empowered with practical, affordable, and effective tools, as well as with the knowledge and capacity to apply and manage them, in support of their adaptation efforts. The Vetiver System is one such option. It offers a multipurpose toolkit of some thirty different eco-engineering applications: for making agriculture climate-smart and sustaining soil and water resources; stabilizing and protecting infrastructure and watersheds, decontaminating land and water, preventing natural disasters and mitigating natural disaster risks, and other applications to enhance livelihoods (e.g., fodder, handicrafts, roofing thatch, essential oil, medicines, carbon sequestration).