Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

Introducing Climate-Smart Agriculture



Climate change poses a growing threat to sustainable development. The expected effects of climate change could seriously compromise the ability of the agriculture sectors to feed the world, and severely undermine progress toward eradicating hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Action is urgently needed to prepare the agricultural sectors for the prospect of rapidly changing environmental conditions. As the agriculture sectors are partly responsible for the accumulation of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere that are responsible climate change, it is also important to reduce agricultural emissions. Even without climate change, world agriculture and food security are face daunting challenges. Population growth and rising incomes in much of the developing world have pushed the demand for food and other agricultural products to unprecedented levels. Without heightened efforts to reduce poverty and improve agricultural productivity, many low-income countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, will find it difficult to ensure access to adequate quantities of food for all. 

Agriculture production systems and food systems must undergo significant transformations to meet the interlinked challenges of achieving sustainability, ensuring food security and addressing climate change. Increasing resource efficiency is essential to increase and safeguard food security in the long term and making a significant contribution climate change mitigation. With the increased risks from the impacts of climate change, efficiency and resilience have to be considered together at every scale and from environmental, economic and social perspectives. Climate-smart agriculture is a dynamic approach that guides the needed changes towards addressing the challenges of climate change. It is not a new agricultural system, nor a set of practices. It articulates globally applicable principles for managing agriculture for food security under changing climatic conditions, which can serve as the basis for policy support and recommendations by multilateral organizations. Climate-smart agriculture provides a framework for putting in place comprehensive policies, adequate institutions and proper governance to implement sustainable, climate-sensitive development strategies. The framework can also be used for channelling new financing to address the investment needs for research organizations and enable farmers to overcome the barriers, including up-front costs and temporarily foregone income, to the adoption of climate-smart agriculture practices. 

The climate-smart agriculture approach is particularly important for agricultural producers in developing countries who are at risk of food insecurity as a result of climate change and who have limited means, little policy support and few institutions that can help them cope with change. Climate justice demands action to assist these producers who are most affected by climate change but have contributed least to it; and provide opportunities to developing countries to enhance their food security and speed their economic growth. Actions taken to improve food security and help producers adapt to change can often have significant mitigation co-benefits. They may, however, have higher upfront costs. Finding appropriate ways to provide incentives for the uptake of climate smart alternatives is a key priority. In many countries, agricultural policy is inextricably linked with economic support for rural economies. There are an increasing number of possibilities for low-income countries to orientate production along pathways that are both more sustainable and more productive. Research and development partners have a crucial role to play in identifying and promoting climate-smart practices that strengthen rural communities, improve smallholder livelihoods and employment, and avoid negative social and cultural impacts, such as loss of land tenure and forced migration. In many developing countries, the design and implementation of agricultural support policies could be radically improved. The objectives of climate-smart agriculture goals need to be integrated into this broad policy context.