Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans (SCALA) 

Transformative Systems Change
©UNDP-Costa Rica

Transformation is a relatively new concept in the climate change literature. Transformational adaptation refers to a change in the fundamental attributes of a socioecological system in anticipation of climate change and its impacts. Adaptation interventions can be qualified as transformational when they include:

  1. System-wide change or changes across more than one system.
  2. Focus on the current and medium (future) change.
  3. Involve direct questioning of the effectiveness of existing systems, social injustices, and power imbalances.

The term transformational implies a process of enabling a major shift from one state to another. Within the context of climate change, transformative change can be understood as a systemic change toward climate-resilient societies. There is a need to address climate change, sustainable development challenges, and agricultural transformation in a holistic and coordinated way.

The transformation of agriculture and food systems can succeed if it harnesses innovation, technology, and digital solutions. The IPCC outlines climate-resilient pathways as development trajectories that combine adaptation and mitigation to realize the goal of sustainable development. Deep societal transformations are needed to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming and achieve desirable and liveable futures and well-being for all.

SCALA’s approach

The SCALA Programme aspires to contribute to:

  • The medium- to long-term goal of supporting transformative climate actions in the land use and agriculture sectors that reduce GHG emissions and/or enhance removals.
  • Strengthen climate risk reduction, resilience, and adaptive capacity in participant countries.
  • SCALA aims for countries to have translated their NDC and/or NAPs into actionable and transformative climate actions in land use and agriculture with multi-stakeholder engagement.  

In the context of SCALA, transformative climate action refers to an agricultural or land use activity that is implemented in anticipation of climate change and its impacts (or opportunities) and/or to mitigate its impact on climate change in line with national climate change targets (for example, NDCs, NAPs). Transformative climate action also generates a systems-wide change in a landscape, value chain, or integrated management system and contributes to transformation across other systems (such as the socio-political economy, and investment landscape).