Clever Name, Losing Game? How Climate Smart Agriculture is sowing confusion in the food movement

Clever Name, Losing Game? How Climate Smart Agriculture is sowing confusion in the food movement

This report highlights questions being raised about the concept of ‘climate smart’ agriculture (CSA).

It highlights that a number of industrialised countries, along with a number of agribusiness corporations, have promoted CSA enthusiastically. But it points out that there is confusion and debate over what the term really means, what it can achieve, what is new about it, and whether it really can benefit food systems in the face of climate change.

The concerns are highlighted of civil society and farmer organisations that the term can be used to greenwash agricultural practices that will harm future food production, such as industrial agriculture practices or soil carbon offsetting. Some governments and NGOs also worry that pressure to adopt CSA will translate into obligations for developing countries’ food systems to take on an unfair mitigation burden. They point out that their agricultural systems have contributed the least to the problem, but that mitigation obligations could limit their ability to effectively adapt to the climate challenges ahead.

The report warns that CSA should be approached with caution, as it may serve to greenwash agricultural practices that are known to be harmful to the climate and farmers. It asks the question: what additional real benefits these new emerging platforms for climate smart agriculture could bring? Saying that the answer is still far from clear.

The report concludes that farmer and civil society organisations must approach CSA with caution, and continue to ask key questions – that the clever name should not distract from inherent power imbalances, and potential risks to the climate and our food systems.

It recommends that NGOs and governments must avoid opening the door to false solutions under vague rhetoric; instead they should be specific about mobilizing public finance and supporting genuinely agroecological solutions to climate change.

[Adapted from source]

  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.