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Climate Smart Agriculture

With a focus across adaptation, mitigation & development, the climate change guide covers agriculture & food security, natural resource management, poverty & vulnerability, governance, health, gender, finance, & low carbon energy.
Banner - bread for the world

Agriculture is the lead sector in many developing countries, often employing a majority of the population. Agriculture also has profound linkages to other key sectors such as water, energy, health and environment. How agricultural production copes with climate change and how farming practices respond to it are therefore critical questions. ‘Climate smart agriculture’ (CSA) offers potential answers.

CSA has emerged as a family of agricultural technologies that aim to deliver on both core farming objectives and climate change objectives. Specifically, CSA technologies are defined as those that can deliver a ‘triple win’, namely:

  1. Sustainably increase agricultural productivity or incomes, and hence food security
  2. Build resilience to climate change impacts (i.e., adaptation)
  3. Combat climate change (i.e., mitigation).

Key sub-themes of CSA include climate change and food security, climate resilient farming systems, and the linkages between agriculture and climate change mitigation. This key issues guide briefly examines the CSA concept then provides links for further reading.

Key resource: Farming’s climate smart future. Placing agriculture at the heart of climate-change policy
Jackfruit and sugar cane
F. Hoogervorst / Panos Pictures
This paper places agriculture at the heart of climate change policy stating that climate change is already changing the face of farming. Increases in temperature, changing patterns of rainfall, more extreme droughts and floods, and the shifting distribution of pests and diseases can all be attributed in part to the increase in emissions of greenhouse gases resulting from human activities. The author argues that because these factors have an impact on food production, adapting to climate change through climate smart agriculture must be the first priority for the agriculture sector.

Concepts, evidence, viewpoints

small - Neil palmer - CIAT - flickr CSA aims to deliver an agricultural transformation that responds to evolving circumstances and needs. One foundation is ecosystem management and sustainable land and water use. Another is conducting site-specific assessments to identify suitable technologies. More . . .

Climate change and food security

Small - Climate Smart KenyaFood security is already a huge problem. The causes of food insecurity are complex, but production problems are a key factor, especially among the small-scale farmers who constitute the majority of undernourished people. More . . .

Climate resilient farming systems

Small - M. Yousuf TusharAgriculture has always had to face variations in the local climate, so farmers and pastoralists have longstanding coping mechanisms such as cultivating diverse crops and mutual support arrangements.  More . . .

Agriculture and climate change mitigation

Small - Kate HoltAgriculture is a major contributor to climate change, representing 20 to 25 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture also offers major opportunities to combat (i.e., mitigate) climate change. More . . .

Image credits: Bread for the World / Flickr | Neil Palmer, CIAT, / Flickr | C.Schubert, CCAFS / Flickr | M. Yousuf Tushar, World Fish /Flickr | Kate Holt, Africa Practice / Flickr 

Latest Documents

IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Chapter 20: Climate-resilient pathways: adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development
F. Denton; T. Wilbanks / Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014
Climate change calls for new approaches to sustainable development that take into account complex interactions between climate and social and ecological systems. Climate-resilient pathways are development trajectories that combine ada...
Options for support to agriculture and food security under climate change
S.J. Vermeulen; P.K. Aggarwal; A. Ainslie / Elsevier 2011
This journal article highlights that agriculture and food security are key sectors for intervention under climate change. It highlights that agricultural production is highly vulnerable even to 2C (low-end) predictions for glob...
Tropical fruit tree species and climate change
B. Sthapit (ed); R. Rao (ed); S. Sthapit (ed) / Bioversity International 2012
The study focuses on the knowledge which could help overcome threats to agriculture and food security, exploring new ways of helping vulnerable rural communities adjust to global changes in climate. Its particular focus is tropical fr...
Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate
United Nations 2013
This report argues that the world needs a paradigm shift in agricultural development: from a ‘green revolution’ to a ‘truly ecological intensification’ approach. This will require a rapid and significant...
Making climate-smart agriculture work for the poor
H. Neufeldt; P. Kristjanson; T. Thorlakson / World Agroforestry Centre 2011
This policy brief focuses on the challenges in making climate-smart agricultural (CSA) production work for the poor, who will be the most vulnerable to climate impacts. The brief highlights three main constraints: ...
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Jules Siedenburg is a freelance consultant with a research fellowship at the University of East Anglia. He is an agricultural and environmental economist with over 14 years’ experience working in the field of rural livelihoods and climate change.