How climate change can catalyze climate-smart agriculture

Knowledge brokering14 Nov 2010Charlotte Streck
There are significant synergies between an increase in productivity and addressing climate change in agriculture. Well designed policies and measures at the national and international level can catalyze strategic investments in sustainable agricultural research, planning and practices that will be necessary to increase agricultural productivity, mitigate poverty, reduce pressure on forests, and conserve water tables, biodiversity and soil functions. While negative trade-offs are possible, there is evidence that adaptation, mitigation and food security enhancement and rural development can go hand in hand. For example, increasing soil organic matter in cropping systems, agroforestry and mixed-species forestry can improve soil fertility and soil moisture holding capacity, reduce the impact of droughts or floods, reduce vulnerability and sequester carbon. Climate change opens new sources of financing to support climate-smart agriculture. Over the last year, developed countries have pledged fast-track funding in the order of US$30 billion until 2012. The availability of funds, as well as the commitment to address emissions from forestry and to promote agricultural mitigation strategies as Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and adaptation measures in developing countries, create an opportunity to develop international and national policies supporting the agricultural sector. NAMAs describe all possible policies, measures, programmes, targets and projects that yield GHG emission reductions. The Copenhagen Accord encourages developed country Parties of the UNFCCC to notify the Convention Secretariat of economy-wide emission-reduction targets. Developing country Parties are invited to notify the secretariat of NAMAs that they intend to adopt and implement. Out of the 43 developing countries which had submitted NAMA information to the Secretariat by October 2010, at least 20 stated that they plan to adopt mitigation actions in the agricultural sector. At the same time, the analysis of drivers of deforestation in tropical countries has made it clear that in many countries the most efficient strategies to reduce deforestation lie outside of the forestry sector. Global and local demand for agricultural products such as food, feed and fuel is a major driver of cropland and pasture expansion across much of the developing world. The availability of cheap land in developing countries is a competitive advantage for agricultural producers. Forests in developing countries are being cleared at a rapid pace for many reasons, but largely for the expansion of agricultural lands. One of the most important climate mitigation strategies in developing countries is agricultural intensification. Climate change opens the door for new international partnerships, for the transfer of knowledge and ideas. New sources of funds associated with climate change offer an opportunity for farmers around the world.