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The theory of change for CSA: a guide to evidence-based national implementation

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This module articulates a theory of change for climate-smart agriculture. The theory of change serves as a foundation for a step-by-step guide for implementing a national climate-smart agricultural strategic framework. The first section of the module describes the elements of the theory of change. Based on this theory, the second section lays out the steps that need be followed to establish the required evidence base to support climate-smart agriculture planning and implementation. These steps are associated with five distinct activities: stocktaking of challenges and options; identifying potential climate-smart agriculture interventions; expanding the evidence base for climate-smart agriculture objectives; assessing barriers to adoption; costing interventions; and prioritizing and planning for country-owned climate-smart agriculture strategies. The third section highlights some of the key capacities that need to be developed to build and sustain a national climate-smart agriculture strategy and integrate climate-smart agriculture into policies that extend beyond specific projects and programmes.

Key messages

  • Robust evidence, multistakeholder dialogue, accessible tools and methodologies, system-wide capacity development and partnership building are at the core of the theory of change for integrating climate-smart agriculture approaches into policy making at the national level.
  • Assessing intervention options for their potential contributions to the achievement of climate-smart agriculture's interlinked objectives demands the accumulation of what can appear to be a daunting amount of evidence. However, many tools and methodologies are available and many more are being developed to assist countries in prioritizing climate-smart agriculture interventions.
  • Costing interventions, including the costs of inaction under various climate scenarios, is an important tool for the prioritization of climate-smart agriculture interventions.
  • Climate-smart agriculture interventions can be undertaken at multiple levels, and assessments need to consider a diverse range of locations and timescales to ensure the coherence of national climate-smart agriculture strategic frameworks.
  • To facilitate the transition to climate-smart agriculture, system-wide and needs-based capacity development is required in four key categories: information management, research, stakeholder processes, and evidence-based decision-making.