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Climate-smart agriculture success stories from farming communities around the world

To ensure a food-secure future, farming must become climate resilient. Around the world, governments and communities are adopting innovations that are improving the lives of millions while reducing agricultures climate footprint.

The booklet Climate Smart Agriculture: Success Stories from Farming Communities around the World shows how climate-smart agriculture can be successful. These successful examples from countries around the world show the many ways climate-smart agriculture can take shape, and should serve as inspiration for future policies and investments.

This booklet is produced in cooperation between the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). It is based on the following research: Large-scale implementation of adaptation and mitigation actions in agriculture, Working Paper No. 50, by Cooper PJM, Cappiello S, Vermeulen SJ, Campbell BM, Zougmoré R, Kinyangi J., Copenhagen, 2013. A publication of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), available from http://tinyurl.com/nn9lzfr. 

The booklet is the follow-up to the 2011 publication Farming's climate-smart future: placing agriculture at the heart of climate-change policy.

Climate-smart agriculture and the future of food production

The world’s climate is changing fast, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, no matter what measures are now taken. For agriculture, change will also be significant, as temperatures rise, rainfall patterns change and pests and diseases find new ranges, posing new risks to food and farming. Until recently, agriculture has tended to be on the sidelines of discussions concerning human-induced climate change, and has generally been seen as the ‘victim’. There is now, however, a growing recognition of agriculture’s contribution to climate change, past and present, and of the means by which farming systems can adapt to cope with the changes, as well as the potential of agriculture to mitigate our climate impact. This recognition has led to the concept of ‘climate-smart agriculture’. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines climate-smart agriculture as consisting of three main pillars:

  • sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes (food security); 
  • adapting and building resilience to climate change (adaptation); 
  • reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation), where possible.

There are many projects that are testing or promoting climate-smart agriculture, but few have shown widespread uptake. This booklet showcases 16 initiatives that are having a widespread impact on food security, adaptation to climate change and climate change mitigation, covering large areas of land and improving the lives of millions of people. 

With examples from both the developed and developing world, the initiatives include innovative agricultural interventions (Chapter 1 in this booklet), initiatives that address climate-related risks (Chapter 2) and policies and institutions that underpin adaptation to and mitigation of climate change (Chapter 3). In some cases, particularly in the policy domain, the support for climate-smart agriculture is a side-benefit rather than the core objective of the initiative; in others, it is the main focus. But ultimately, all the cases meet the three part goal of improving resilience to climate change, enhancing food security and livelihoods, and reducing agriculture’s climate footprint. 

These 16 initiatives show the potential of agriculture to adapt to a changing climate, to be more resilient and protect farmers against future changes in weather patterns, pests and diseases, and to slow the rate of climate change. The challenge now is to promote widespread adoption of climate-smart agricultural interventions around the world. A recent publication1 from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security shows how widespread adoption might be achieved, drawing lessons from the 16 initiatives presented in this volume.