Climate smart agriculture: the living knowledge approach

Inclusive Economy23 Nov 2017Rimma Dankova

To contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under a changing climate, agricultural production systems need to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes; build resilience to the impacts of climate change; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. To meet these interlinked objectives, the climate smart agriculture (CSA) approach has been developed. At COP23 in Bonn this month, the second edition of an online guide to the CSA approach and its application, the CSA Sourcebook, was launched.

The CSA approach, which was introduced by FAO in 2010 at the Hague Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, suggests that the two most urgent global challenges – achieving universal food security and responding to climate change – have to be addressed in an integrated way in agriculture. CSA has the potential to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food security under a changing climate. The CSA process includes the development of an evidence base to inform agricultural policy and investment planning, cross-sectoral policy dialogue, and the linking of climate finance to agricultural investments.

The insights gained in recent years through research and the sharing of experiences and success stories have created a significant knowledge base on the CSA approach. This has facilitated better understanding of potential accelerators of CSA, as well as the barriers to its adoption. This knowledge has been compiled in the CSA Sourcebook (second edition), which is a major online source of information and knowledge on CSA methodologies, analyses, practical experiences and lessons learnt. The Sourcebook specifically details the actions necessary to transform the agricultural sector. It features stories about actual projects to guide policymakers and programme managers to make the agricultural sector more sustainable and productive, while also contributing to food security and lowering carbon intensity. It also pays attention to the role of gender and looks at how to finance and invest in climate smart agriculture.

Since the introduction of CSA, the landscape of international climate action has changed considerably. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which encompasses the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the SDGs and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, provides an unprecedented international framework for increasing the effectiveness of national actions and collective international efforts to achieve sustainable development, including CSA. Many counties have embraced CSA principles in designing national policies, institutions and investments. Out of the 189 countries that submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement, 32 specifically referenced CSA. In addition, approximately 50 countries have endorsed, and even prioritized, actions intended to harness the potential synergies between mitigation and adaptation in agriculture.