Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

Climate resilience: synergies between Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate-Smart Agriculture

Enabling Frameworks


Disaster risk reduction can support climate-smart agriculture’s objectives, particularly in relation to improving climate change adaptation and building the resilience of agricultural communities and ecosystems to climate variability and change. Policies, programmes and practices for disaster risk reduction that have proven to be successful are a valuable set of resources that can be used for promoting and scaling up climate-smart agriculture. The key areas where disaster risk reduction that can support climate-smart agriculture are summarized in Figure C5.10. 

Multi-hazard risk assessments and vulnerability mapping, which are essential elements of disaster risk reduction, identify the spatial distribution of climate-related hazards and geological hazards at different scales, and assess the exposure to and vulnerability of farming systems, and evaluate the overall level of risk. They can provide crucial support for the design of appropriate climate-smart agriculture initiatives, which are based on an integrated landscape management approach that requires a clear understanding of all natural hazards affecting a given territory. The combined analysis of multi-hazard risk assessment and mapping with downscaled climate change scenarios provides a harmonized framework for assessing all the potential hazards in specific geographic areas. Used in combination, they provide a complete picture of how food security is currently being affected today by hazards and how the impacts of climate change may be affected in the future. This combined analysis facilitates short- and long-term planning for climate-smart agriculture.

Figure C5.10.  Climate-smart agriculture approaches that build on established disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation capacities 

*Note: CCA in this figure stands for climate change adaptation and DRR stands for Disaster Risk Reduction

At the national and regional levels, well-established legislations, institutional structures, policies and plans for disaster risk reduction can offer entry points for mainstreaming the climate-smart agriculture and create a strong supportive enabling environment that is essential for successful actions on the ground. By working in partnership with the national institutional architecture for disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and mitigation, climate-smart agriculture initiatives can increase the involvement of agriculture line agencies in cross-sectoral processes and strengthen synergies in the efforts to reach multiple sustainable development objectives. 

Community disaster risk management, which is as a proven participatory method for the assessment of local risks and for guiding local planning, can serve as a vehicle and methodology for promoting climate-smart agriculture locally. Given the widespread application of community disaster risk management and its institutionalization in many countries, it can provide considerable scope for contributing to climate-smart agriculture. Combining community disaster risk management practices and climate change adaptation approaches builds links with existing local institutional networks and increases coherence within communities and local authorities. There are many examples of local knowledge and validated technologies and practices for reducing disaster risks that can used to scale up climate-smart agriculture practices. Sharing knowledge of these mutually supportive practices is vital to promoting climate-smart agriculture. By making use of technologies and practices that support both risk reduction and climate change adaptation, climate-smart agriculture can provide multiple benefits for farmers.

Disaster risk reduction can support efforts to promote climate-smart agricultural development in the recovery phase after a disaster. To build stronger collaboration between humanitarian interventions and sustainable development that can restore infrastructure and rehabilitate livelihoods, more consideration needs to be given to the underlying factors that determine current risks and the future risk associated with climate change. Combining the knowledge of proven disaster risk reduction practices and climate-smart agriculture has the potential to link short-, medium-, and long-term sustainable development goals in the aftermath of disasters. More work needs to be done to explore these opportunities. Table C5.2 presents suggestions for harnessing existing disaster risk reduction capacities to help reach climate-smart agriculture objectives.

Table C5.2.  Strategic entry areas of disaster risk reduction for climate-smart agriculture 

Enabling Environment

Practical Tools

Knowledge Sharing

Work with existing national platforms and institutional mechanisms for coordinating disaster risk reduction and adaptation.

Promote multi-stakeholder dialogue between communities working in disaster risk reduction and climate change to identify opportunities, build partnerships,  jointly address gaps and harmonize initiatives.

Take stock of national policies and plans already developed for reducing disaster risk and adapting to climate change, including those that are hazard-specific (e.g. drought mitigation), and build coherence among them.

Implement climate-smart agriculture locally using integrated community-based approaches for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation that combine short-term measures to reduce immediate risks with long-term adaptation measures that address the slow onset impacts of climate change.

Conduct integrated analysis of multiple risks to agriculture and food security, based on the collection of available information (data and maps) on hazards, vulnerabilities and risk assessments.

Overlay and embed climate change impact scenarios with existing hazard early warning systems.

Improve the tools that can integrate assessments of current risks and downscaled climate change scenarios for better and more holistic analysis.

Enhance the access of  vulnerable populations to risk transfer mechanisms and social protection.

Design climate-smart agriculture project initiatives that complement adaptation and risk reduction measures, and that are in line with national disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation goals.

Take stock of and promote proven traditional local knowledge.

Map and promote disaster risk reduction technologies and practices that have been effective in reducing disaster risks and meet the objectives of climate-smart agriculture.

Promote knowledge sharing among farmers, practitioners and policy makers on effective disaster risk reduction technologies, and climate change adaptation and mitigation technologies.

Support the generation of integrated knowledge and practices.

Support the stronger engagement of the disaster risk reduction community in climate-smart agriculture initiatives.

Source: adapted from UNISDR, 2009

The pace of climate change is increasing the urgency of building linkages between disaster risk reduction and climate-smart agriculture. Those working to advance climate-smart agriculture should make disaster risk reduction a core element of their strategies, and make use of the wealth of information about successful disaster risk reduction practices and forge strong partnerships with established institutions. Using and expanding the accumulated expertise in disaster risk reduction to advance climate-smart agriculture increases the efficiency of international aid and government investments. This is a critical factor given the already severely constrained human resources and institutional capacities in developing countries, and aid budgets that are increasingly less able to cope with recurring and simultaneous disasters.