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Climate change: Adapting through innovation

November 24, 2015

In organising a special session on “Responding to the effects of climate change on the business of farming” on 30 November 2015 in Durban as a preamble of the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA Africa), CTA is positioning itself as a key player in a fight which is intensifying.

Climate change is hitting agriculture hard throughout the world. But agriculture also emits high levels of greenhouse gases, accounting for 24% of world emissions. From wherever we observe the problem, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are faced with similar situations, albeit on different scales: they are still more vulnerable than the countries of the North due to their geographical situation (floods, cyclones, droughts, rising sea levels) and the limited resources of most producers.

But ACP producers are responding on a daily basis to the challenges they face. Innovations and solutions are emerging every day in the fight against climate change, adapting to climate change and attenuating its effects. In all these areas, CTA makes a point of supporting the stakeholders by helping them to exchange and share their experiences and develop innovations.

It is in this context that the Centre is organising an event in Durban, on 30 November, alongside the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture, African edition (scheduled to take place on 1-2 December 2015), on the theme of "Responding to the effects of climate change on the business of farming". By co-organising this event with NEPAD and all the African producer organisations (the Panafrican Farmers' Organisation, PAFO and the regional farmers organisations in Eastern Africa, EAFF, West Africa, ROPPA, Central Africa, PROPAC, and Southern Africa, SACAU), its intention is to emphasise the need for action and exchange. The discussion will focus on climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and the main challenge it faces: the change of scale.

Promoting Climate-Smart Agriculture

CCAFS good copy

The concept of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) which emerged in 2009, in particular at the instigation of the FAO and the World Bank, has three objectives: to ensure food security, to attenuate the effects of climate change and to adapt to such change. This therefore involves producing more for a constantly increasing population (according to the FAO, agricultural production needs to at least double by 2050 in order to cope with demographic growth), while reducing the impact.

Solutions are therefore being developed by producers who are organising themselves to this end. Some of these adaptations have existed since time immemorial, but are being updated. They include practices such as agroecology for sustainable agro-ecosystems, which relies on the complementarity between plants and animals. In Côte d'Ivoire, for example, cocoa farmers plant trees which provide water and shade for cocoa trees, thereby ensuring a better output. Other techniques are more innovative, involving for example ICT, such as climate information systems, agricultural markets and products on radios and mobile phones.

Producer organisations are not standing still. For example, in November 2015, ROPPA organised for its members a meeting in Mali on the theme of "Seed production by producer organisations and climate-smart agriculture". Other than farming techniques, a favourable environment is essential for the development of a resilient and sustainable agriculture. To this end, financing is a key factor. A Green Climate Fund, intended first and foremost to help developing economies, was officially created in Durban in 2011, with the objective of raising 100 billion dollars by 2020. But at the previous COP (COP 20) in Lima, the fund had raised only 10 billion dollars.

Payments for environmental services (PES), when they are properly designed, can also be a significant source of financing. This involves rewarding producers and land owners for their "good management" (benefiting the larger population: soil conservation, reforestation, etc.). Index-based insurance, which enables farmers to be paid compensation for losses due to poor weather conditions), is another financing method that can contribute to combating climate change, but it requires considerable subsidies.

Sharing existing solutions and opportunities

The session organised prior to the GFIA is even more important given that it will bring together around a hundred participants from across the world: not only producers, researchers and politicians, but also lenders and private sector representatives. According to Olujede Ajayi, senior programme coordinator for agricultural and rural development policies, in charge of the organisation of this event, “This session will contribute to ensuring that innovations, existing solutions and opportunities are presented to as many people as possible, in order to be disseminated as widely as possible”. For this climate change expert, “too many innovations are not sufficiently disseminated”.

Publications, meetings, networking: CTA at the forefront

Publications EN CSA

CTA is working closely with its partners to combat climate change. In this regard, it has published numerous documents, including: Climate solutions that work for farmers (published in 2015); Evidence of impact: climate-smart agriculture in Africa (a series of case studies on CSA); Climate-smart agriculture success stories from farming communities around the world (sixteen CSA initiatives around the world); and a special edition of the Spore magazine (Global warming: Doing business in a time of climate change, special edition October 2015).

Other than the organisation of a special session ahead of the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture, the Centre is also multiplying meetings with events which will be held ahead of the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21, from 30 November to 11 December): on 4 December "Scaling Up Innovative Approaches to Climate-smart Agriculture in Africa" in partnership with the Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). In addition, a special session co-organised with CCAFS, the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) will take place on 6 December within the framework of the Global Landscapes Forum during COP 21.

Lastly, CTA is a member of several networks whose actions in the fight against climate change have been acknowledged, such as the Alliance for the Seed Industry in West Africa (ASIWA) and the Global Alliance for Climate-smart Agriculture (GACSA), of which it is one of the founding members.


Download Climate solutions that work for farmers (CTA, 2015).
Download Evidence of impact: climate-smart agriculture in Africa (CTA and CCAFS, 2015).
Download the special edition of the Spore magazine Global warming: Doing business in a time of climate change (CTA, 2015).
Download Climate-smart agriculture success stories from farming communities around the world (CTA and CCAFS, 2013).
Access the Guide to UNFCCC Negotiations on Agriculture: Toolkit for Communications and Outreach (CTA, CCAFS and Farming First).

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