Radical adaptation in agriculture: tackling the roots of climate vulnerability

Radical adaptation in agriculture: tackling the roots of climate vulnerability

As climate change pushes livestock, crop and tree production systems towards new realities, societies may seek more comprehensive solutions. Examples of truly radical adaptation — pre-emptive actions at scale that address the root causes of climate risks and reduce climatic footprint — are still to emerge in
agriculture globally. Yet there is much to learn from countries, communities and industries that are transforming agricultural livelihoods. Case studies show that local experience, combined with external knowledge, provide the platform for positive change.

From these examples, this paper presents nine lessons on how to shift towards a more radical pathway for adaptation. The levers for new behaviours can be surprisingly simple, although addressing root causes may require more fundamental reforms. Looking ahead, radical adaptation can guide practical actions towards a well-adjusted future for food and farming.
 
Policy pointers:
  • linking local knowledge and external foresight can support pre-emptive action and leapfrog less-effective incremental changes
  • complex problems do not always need complex solutions; low-cost, high-impact measures can accelerate adaptation
  • addressing root causes of vulnerability may require a fundamental, sector-wide shift in policy and grassroots collective action
  • silver bullet’ investments that benefit all people everywhere are wishful thinking: policymakers need to recognise winners and losers in different contexts
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