Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

Developing Sustainable Food Systems and Value Chains for Climate-Smart Agriculture

Production and Resources

Developing sustainable food systems and value chains for climate-smart agriculture

Food systems contribute an estimated 19 to 29 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Most of these emissions (80 to 86 percent) are released during the production phase (Vermeulen et al., 2012). However, the relative contribution of global greenhouse gas emissions from food systems is highly variable depending on the region, country, sector, commodity, and production system. Emissions are generated, for example, through the use of fossil fuels across all stages of the food value chains – from production to consumption – that make up food systems, as well as in the extended value chain through the provision of services and inputs (e.g. the manufacturing of chemical fertilizers).  Furthermore, the impacts of climate change pose threats to all stages of food value chains and at all levels of the food system. Therefore, each level of the food system presents many opportunities to adapt food systems and their value chains to be more resilient and contribute to increasing global food security. It is important to take a holistic, systems view of the risks and impacts of climate change when designing climate-smart agriculture strategies for sustainable food systems. A systems approach, which involves an examination of the food system as a whole – from farm-to-fork – provides an analysis of the full range of food system activities, the stakeholders involved, and the complex interactions among these activities and stakeholders (Ericksen et al., 2008; Ingram, 2011). This approach can help identify the root causes of the risks and vulnerabilities facing food systems, including those associated with climate change to determine where to focus coordinated, multistakeholder interventions to develop sustainable food systems.