GACSA’s Annual forum 2017: highlighting collaborative solutions on the ground

The GACSA Annual Forum brought together over 200 participants to share evidence and experiences related to Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) and how CSA solutions can be scaled up, at FAO Headquarters in Rome from 12-14 December 2017.

The 2017 Annual Forum marks an important milestone in the GACSA series. In its third year, the conference has matured into a dynamic gathering of practitioners, researchers, farmers and policy makers from diverse disciplines sharing a common interest in advancing CSA solutions and contributing to GACSA’s Strategic Vision for 2018 and beyond.

Opening the Forum, Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of FAO’s Climate and Natural Resources Division emphasized how “GACSA’s strategic vision needs to consider how the Alliance can contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement”. She highlighted the important outcomes of COP23 such as the landmark decision on agriculture, the Gender Action Plan and the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform.

René Castro, Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department, also underscored that the time has come to focus on implementation and that countries need to raise the bar and increase their commitments to climate action. Mr Clayton Campanhola, FAO Strategic Programme Leader for Sustainable Agriculture, introduced the 2017 Second Edition of FAO’s Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook designed as a new digital guide, including five new modules. He pointed out that 32 countries had prioritized CSA in their NDCs and that many use CSA in their investment plans.

The Annual Forum served as an action-oriented, multi-stakeholder platform. During the three days, the GACSA Action Groups focused on the concrete results achieved by its members on CSA knowledge, investment and policy, and through increased regional engagement, with a view to articulating a concrete Strategic Vision for the Alliance.

Emphasis was made on the importance of the value chain and cross-sectoral partnerships. It showcased how successful adoption of CSA practices and systems by farmers and policy makers requires global, national and regional efforts.

Focus on solution-oriented knowledge

Participants at the meeting focused on how to generate knowledge to support implementation, showing the added-value of CSA as an integrated approach that transforms farming practices and systems to achieve the triple win of sustainable productivity and incomes, adaptation and resilience, and mitigation, for food security and nutrition. While global climate finance flows increased by almost 15% between 2011 and 2014, only a small portion went to agriculture including smallholder projects that are bankable. Developing CSA metrics, related, in particular, to adaptation and resilience to measure progress and attract greater investments in CSA, was reaffirmed as key. Enabling environments need to address issues related to technology constraints, legal frameworks, political instability and institutional capacity, and to consider how to better support farmers, empower women and engage youth.

Enhancing collaboration with regional multi-stakeholder platforms

Major initiatives and achievements of the regional CSA alliances and networks in scaling up CSA were presented as well as the importance of enhanced collaboration with regional multi-stakeholder platforms and processes. The presentations clearly demonstrated the diverse nature of CSA alliances and processes, their activities and stakeholders; and the strong need and demand for scaling up of activities by diverse stakeholders in all the countries represented.

The Forum also reserved a “CSA Speakers Corner’’ to present CSA tools ranging from web-based knowledge platforms and CSA technology to adaptation and mitigation tools.

Collective action

In closing the core-event of the Annual Forum, the Executive Secretary of the Global Forum in Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR), Mark Holderness stressed how “we are all the actors and the answers to climate change’’. He called for more commitment to communities at local, national, regional and global level. GACSA’s strengths lie in its members and in generating collective action that is greater than the sum of individual initiatives.

As part of the Annual Forum, two regional-side events for Africa and Asia were held. "The Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Programme of the African Development Bank: Synergies and Opportunities for Implementation" side event introduced the new « Africa CSA Programme » of the African Development Bank (AfDB). It identified several opportunities for synergies and partnerships, as well as the urgent need for: comprehensive mapping of all CSA initiatives on the continent; closer coordination among stakeholders at national and sub-regional levels; technology transfer and the promotion of proven technologies; private sector engagement in scaling up CSA; regional CSA alliances and platforms for the exchange of good practices; and close collaboration in resource mobilization efforts.

A second side-event for Asia entitled "Scaling up CSA in South East Asia: Developing a Sustainable Pipeline for Investment" led to the identification of a set of activities and pipelines for 2018 to unlock investment in agriculture sector NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) priorities and CSA in Southeast Asia. This built on earlier work in collaboration with GACSA. The work was led by the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, ASEAN-CRN (Association of South East Asia Nations-Climate Resilient Network) and WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), in partnership with country governments and other public and private sector organizations in Southeast Asia.  and in collaboration with GACSA.

Videos of the event are available here.

Photos are available here.

Final Report is available here.