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Ecologically sustainable food systems

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In this Knowledge Portal topic, recent publications on practices and approaches to make food systems ecologically (more) sustainable are presented. Farmers and other value chain actors innovate using practices that improve their adaptive capacity to climate change and to the increasing scarcity of natural resources. They may (gradually) apply agro-ecological or ‘climate-smart agriculture’ concepts and approaches. This means they are taking into account the ecological characteristics of the landscape, the opportunities to improve (agro-) biodiversity and the need to reduce greenhouse gases, in order to enhance the resilience of the system.

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Sustainable diets for healthy people and a healthy planet
Published by UNSCN,
This discussion paper connects the dots between sustainable food systems, dietary patterns, health, nutrition and climate change mitigation. Developing a global food system to deliver healthy diets for a growing population, while reducing the environmental impact and reining in climate change, is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. »
Greenhouse gas emission analyses from nine agricultural development projects reveal mitigation options
Published by CCAFS-CGIAR,
This blog discusses analyses which show that some agricultural practices contribute to improved food security and climate change mitigation. These analyses can help prioritize agricultural practices that contribute to sustainable development goals in food security and climate. »
Trade-offs between environment and livelihoods: Bridging the global land use and food security discussions
Published by Global Food Security journal,
This article connects the discussion on the trade-offs between agricultural production and environmental concerns, including the asserted need for global land use expansion, and the issues of rural livelihoods and food security. »
Gender, climate change, and resilient food systems: Lessons from strategic adaptation by smallholder farmers in Cameroon
Published by IFPRI,
This discussion paper aims to understand how men and women in Cameroon differ in their vulnerability to and their coping strategies for climate change impacts. According to respondents, climate variables such as the timing and length of the rainy season had changed, affecting crop production of both men and women. Women were shown to be more vulnerable than men. »
Researchers refute claim that world needs to double food production
Published by FoodTank,
This blog discusses a recent study, which challenges the familiar assertion that “to feed the world, we need to double food production by 2050.” The authors of the study aim to balance this narrative by laying out quantitative and compelling mid-century targets for both production and the environment. »
Beyond the agroecological and sustainable agricultural intensification debate: Is blended sustainability the way forward?
Published by German Development Institute (DIE),
This discussion paper examines the debate over two pathways to sustainability, namely sustainable agricultural intensification (SAI) and agroecological intensification (AEI). The results reveal that proponents of the SAI pathway are predominantly private sector actors, while support for the AEI pathway comes mainly from international donors, NGOs and civil society actors. »
Approaches aiming at sustainable production
Published by WUR,
This publication presents various agricultural approaches aimed at improving agricultural practices and contributing to a more sustainable world. The report starts with a short introduction of seven key approaches: agroecology, sustainable intensification, climate smart agriculture, landscape approaches, conservation agriculture, organic farming and inclusive green growth. »
Negative evaluation of conservation agriculture: Perspectives from African smallholder farmers
Published by International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability,
This article explores the reasons why farmers chose not to implement conservation agriculture (CA). Despite more than three decades of promotion, CA has not been widely adopted by smallholder farmer in sub-Saharan Africa. »
Sustainable forestry for food security and nutrition
Published by HLPE,
This report analyzes the diverse, direct and indirect, contributions of forests and trees to food security and nutrition (FNS). This contribution happens through four main channels: direct provision of food; provision of energy, especially for cooking; income generation and employment; and provision of ecosystem services that are essential for FNS, human health and well-being. »
Agricultural innovation and adaptation to climate change: Empirical evidence from diverse agro-ecologies in South Asia
Published by Environment, Development and Sustainability Journal,
This article generates empirical evidence on emerging agricultural innovations in contrasting socio-economic, geographical and agro-ecological contexts. The study demonstrates that several farm practices (innovations) have emerged in response to multiple drivers over time, with various forms of institutional and policy support, including incentives to reduce risks in the adoption of innovative practice. »
The System of Rice Intensification’s role in hunger, climate change, and communities
Published by Food Tank,
This blog explains the basic principles of System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the implications of the methodology, and the role it can play in agriculture in the future. SRI is best understood as a set of agronomic principles rather than as a typical kind of agricultural technology. »
How climate-smart is conservation agriculture? Its potential to deliver on adaptation, mitigation and productivity on smallholder farms in southern Africa
Published by Food Security Journal,
This article assesses whether or not conservation agriculture (CA) is climate-smart. For a cropping system to be labelled “climate-smart” it has to deliver three benefits: a) adapt to the effects of climate and be of increased resilience; b) mitigate climate effects by sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and c) sustainably increase productivity and income. »
Lessons from semi-arid regions on how to adapt to climate change
Published by weADAPT,
This blog discusses how farmers in semi-arid regions adapt to climate change and what is needed for sustained and equitable adaptation. The blog links to research done in Northern Ghana, India and Kenya, which show how farmers and pastoralists deal with the effects of climate change. »
A rough estimate of the proportion of global emissions from agriculture due to smallholders
Published by CGIAR CCAFS,
This info note describes to what proportion smallholder farms contribute relative to all agricultural emissions, and to total global emissions from all sectors. Smallholders in developing countries produce, on a very rough estimate, 5% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions from smallholder farming in developing countries are roughly estimated as contributing to onethird of agricultural emissions and one-third of the emissions from deforestation due to agriculture globally. »
Do markets and trade help or hurt the global food system adapt to climate change?
Published by Food Policy Journal,
This article discusses the effects of markets and trade on the global food system in a changing climate. The authors argue that food security in a changing climate can best be understood as a double exposure: the exposure of people and processes to both economic and climate-related shocks and stressors. »
Agroecology: The bold future of farming in Africa
Published by AFSA,
This publication was produced by the AFSA Agroecology Working Group and Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement. The 88 page illustrated book showcases 15 case studies, showing how agroecology benefits Africa in terms of food and nutrition, livelihoods, restoration of biodiversity, knowledge and innovation, and climate change resilience. »
Adaptation processes in agriculture and food security: Insights from evaluating behavioral changes in West Africa
Published by CCAFS,
This chapter in the book "Evaluating Climate Change Action for Sustainable Development" focuses on the evaluation of adaptive capacities of community-level human systems related to agriculture and food security. It highlights findings regarding approaches and domains to monitor and evaluate behavioral changes from CGIAR’s research program on climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS). »
Smallholder farmers’ adaptation to climate change and determinants of their adaptation decisions in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia
Published by Agriculture & Food Security Journal,
This article discusses how smallholder farmers perceive climate change, what adaptation strategies they practice, and factors that influence their adaptation decisions. Both primary and secondary data were used for the study, and a multinomial logit model was employed to identify the factors that shape smallholder farmers’ adaptation strategies. »
Mainstreaming ecosystem services and biodiversity into agricultural production and management
Published by FAO & CBD,
This series of Technical Guidance Documents by FAO and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) addresses the need for mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services into agriculture, at the national level. More specifically, it is aimed to assist countries in developing and implementing their National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSA Ps), to consider ecosystem services – and opportunities for their management – in agricultural production systems. »
Prioritising climate-smart agricultural interventions at different scales
Published by Agricultural Systems,
This special of Agricultural Systems focuses on prioritising climate-smart agricultural (CSA) interventions at different scales. Currently, there are few tools that can comprehensively evaluate the range of potential technologies and practices and their possible impacts on food production, environmental sustainability, and mitigation in any context. Therefore, what remains is the prioritization of interventions for investment and broad dissemination. This special issue brings together nine papers describing a wide range of approaches and tools. »
Analyzing drought adaptation practices of sugarcane growers in Thanh Cong, Thach Thanh District, Thanh Hoa, Vietnam
Published by Tropicultura,
This article analyses drought adaptation practices of two groups of sugarcane growers - market and contractual farmers - in Vietnam. Results of this study point out that farmers, depending on their preferred type of market channels, reacted differently to the impacts of drought. Contractual farmers paid more attention to the impact on sugarcane tillering and sugar content, while market-oriented farmers paid more attention to sugarcane colour. »
Toward climate-smart agriculture in West Africa: a review of climate change impacts, adaptation strategies and policy developments for the livestock, fishery and crop production sectors
Published by Agriculture and Food Security journal,
This article, published in the Agriculture and Food Security journal, was synthesized from several scholarly literature and aimed at providing information on climate change impacts, adaptation strategies, policies and institutional mechanisms that each agriculture subsector had put in place in dealing with climate change and its related issues in West Africa. »
Early warning, early action: The innovations changing food crisis management
Published by Richard Chourlarton,
This article by Richard Choularton, a senior associate focused on food security and climate change at Tetra Tech International Development Services, gives five areas of innovation that enable earlier and more evidence-based responses to food crises, and help communities build resilience to climate change and disasters. »
Climate change and crop diversity: Farmers’ perceptions and adaptation on the Bolivian Altiplano
Published by Environment, Development and Sustainability Journal,
This article explored the role of crop diversity in farmers’ adaptation actions in eight Aymara communities on the northern Bolivian Altiplano. Crop diversity is central to traditional risk management practices on the Andean Altiplano and may find renewed importance in adapting to climate change. »
Integrating fisheries and agricultural programs for food security
Published by Agriculture & Food Security Journal,
This article aims to investigate how widespread the mixed-strategy of fishing and farming is across food-insecure regions of the world. Understanding the degree to which farmers also consume fish, and how fishers also grow crops, would help to inform more resilient food security interventions. »
SDG2: achieving food security, sustainability and resilience using genetic diversity and indigenous knowledge
Published by IIED,
This briefing by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) highlights how indigenous knowledge and practices play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing genetic diversity, which reduces agricultural risk and increases resilience to climate change. Evidence from the SIFOR project (Smallholder Innovation for Resilience) in Kenya, India, China and Peru shows how these practices can significantly enhance productivity, incomes and resilience in harsh environments, contributing to the targets set out in Sustainable Development Goal 2. »
The biodiversity advantage: Global benefits from smallholder actions
Published by IFAD,
This report by IFAD shows how IFAD-supported projects are working with smallholder farmers to protect biodiversity in five countries. Poor rural people depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, relying on a range of natural assets from their ecosystems and biodiversity for food, fuel and much else. Productive and sustainable agricultural systems need clean water, healthy soil, and a variety of genetic resources and ecological processes. »
Improved crop productivity for Africa’s drylands
Published by World Bank,
TThis book by the World Bank argues that the drylands in Africa have the potential to make a significant contribution to reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience. Improved farming technologies that can increase and stabilize the production of millet, sorghum, maize, and other leading staples are available. Yet many of these opportunities have not been exploited on a large scale, for reasons that include lack of farmer knowledge, nonavailability of inputs, unfavorable price incentives, high levels of production risk, and high cost. »
Agroecology and climate change resilience: In smallholder coffee agroecosystems of Central America
Published by CCAFS-CGIAR, HIVOS, the University of Vermond, Bioversity International, Cedeco, World Agroforestry Centre,
This paper by CCAFS brings together and highlights research and gaps in the literature about climate effects on smallholder coffee agroecosystems. The authors seek to inspire future scholarship, inform policy and help direct development interventions. Although this paper primarily focuses on Central American coffee production, many of the examples and lessons are broadly applicable to smallholder coffee producers worldwide. The authors hope this researchbrief will benefit multiple stakeholders including coffee cooperatives, development practitioners, industry agents, researchers and policy-makers. »
Synergies and trade-offs for sustainable agriculture: Nutritional yields and climate-resilience for cereal crops in Central India
Published by Global Food Security journal,
This article, published in Global Food Security journal, illustrates an approach to examine trade-offs and synergies among the multiple objectives on sustainable agriculure for monsoon cereal crops in central India. These objectives include efficient use of land to produce nutrients for human consumption, climate resilience, and income for farmers. understanding which crops, or combinations of crops, are most suitable requires identifying household-, community-, and region-specific priorities coupled with empirical analysis that considers multiple objectives. »
The Drylands Advantage: Protecting the environment, empowering people
Published by IFAD,
This report by IFAD shows how drylands support important ecosystems and a great variety of biodiversity, as well as their vital role in the livelihoods and cultural identity of many smallholders. It reveals the crucial role the world’s drylands play in buffering the negative impacts of climate change, land degradation and drought. »
Farming tactics to reduce the carbon footprint of crop cultivation in semiarid areas. A review
Published by Agronomy for Sustainable Development Journal,
This article in the Agronomy for Sustainable Development Journal reviews farming tactics to reduce the carbon footprint of crop cultivation in semiarid areas. The authors present seven key farming tactics that are proven to be effective in increasing grain production while lowering carbon footprint... »
Measuring sustainable intensification in smallholder agroecosystems: A review
Published by Global Food Security journal,
This article in the Global Food Security journal identified sustainable intentification (SI) indicators, through a systematic qualitative review of the literature with a primary focus on African smallholder farming systems. The authors assessed indicators and metrics for which there is consensus, and those that remain contested. »
Agriculture initiatives and COP22
Published by Nordic Co-opearation,
This factsheet by Nordic Co-opearation takes stock of key regional and global initiatives related to agriculture and climate change, which have been launched in the period from 2005 to 2016. It identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats across these, as well as highlighting success factors. Many countries across the region face similar challenges for agricultural adaptation and mitigation, and sharing best practices, on policies as well as on projects on the ground, can help increase success rates and cut cost. »
Landscape approaches for mountain community sustainable development in a time of climate change: Policy consultation and South-South exchange workshop
Published by IIED,
The workshop on “Landscape approaches for mountain community sustainable development in a time of climate change: Policy consultation and South-South exchange” was organised by the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP, China), Asociación ANDES (Peru) and IIED, on 19-22 May 2016, in Lijiang and the Stone Village, Yunnan, China. The workshop brought together different stakeholders from China, Peru, the Albertine Rift region in Africa and UN agencies to explore the role of different community-led landscape approaches in agrobiodiversity conservation, climate resilience, with a particular focus on mountains. »
Fertilizers and low emission development in sub-Saharan Africa
Published by CGIAR,
This policy brief by CGIAR argues that an opportunity exists in Africa to meet the future food security needs while using N fertilizers efficiently. Many countries in Africa included fertilizer use, soil fertility management, and agricultural inputs as part of their contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement. »
Processes of adaptation in farm decision-making models. A review
Published by Agronomy for Sustainable Development Journal,
This article in the Agronomy for Sustainable Development Journal, reviews processes of adaptation in farm decision-making models. The authors review bio-economic and bio-decision models, in which strategic and tactical decisions are included in dynamic adaptive and expectation-based processes, in 40 literature articles. »
Metrics to measure progress towards climate-smart agriculture (CSA) goals
Published by CGIAR,
This Brochure by CGIAR is about the Public access CSA Programing and Indicator Tool that supports investors and implementers in identifying common metrics and tracking the CSA related outcomes and impacts of their interventions. The tool is supported by a database of over 378 indicators gathered from international development agencies... »
Mapping climate change adaptive capacity and vulnerability of smallholder agricultural livelihoods in Central America: ranking and descriptive approaches to support adaptation strategies
Published by Climate Change Journal,
This article published by the Climate Change Journal addresses the potential impact of climate change on suitability for major crops and adaptive capacity using indicators of basic human needs, as well as resources for innovation and action framed in a livelihoods approach. The article add to the mounting evidence that rising temperatures and longer, more intense dry seasons could redraw the agricultural map of Central America. »
Methods for measuring greenhouse gas balances and evaluating mitigation options in smallholder agriculture
Published by CCAFS-CGIAR,
This book (PDF) by CCAFS-CGIAR provides standards and guidelines for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions and removals in smallholder agricultural systems and comparing options for climate change mitigation based on emission reductions and livelihood trade-offs. The guidelines described in this book are intended to inform anyone conducting field measurements of agricultural greenhouse gas sources and sinks. »
What evidence exists for the effectiveness of on‑farm conservation land management strategies for preserving ecosystem services in developing countries? A systematic map
Published by Environmental Evidence,
This article provides a coherent systhesis and review of the evidence of claims of on-farm conservation land management strategies and agro-ecology. An extensive body of evidence in the field of agro-ecology claims to show the positive effects that maintenance of ecosystem services can have on meeting future food demand by making farms more sustainable, productive and resilient, which then contributes to improved nutrition and livelihoods of farmers. »
The state of food and agriculture: Climate change, agriculture and food security
Published by FAO,
This annual publication elaborates on the relations between climate change, agriculture and food security and argues that without adaptation to climate change it will not be possible to achieve food security for all and eradicated hunger, malnutrition and poverty. In the publication it is emphasized that smallholders' adaptation to climate change is critical; integrated policies are needed; and that there is a need for more meaningful climate finance to facilitate the transition to sustainable agricultural practices. »
Climate analogues suggests limited potential for intensification of production on current croplands under climate change
Published by Nature Publishing Group,
This article provides a complementary method of assessing the effect of climate change on crop yields. By combining observations of current maximum-attainable yield with climate analogues, strong reductions in attainable yields of major cereal crops are found across a large fraction of current cropland by 2050. »
Markets and climate are driving rapid change in farming practices in Savannah West Africa
Published by Regional Environmental Change journal,
This paper, published in the Regional Environmental Change journal, analyzes drivers of change in farming practices in the region using data obtained from surveys of 700 farming households in five countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Senegal). Agricultural practices have constantly changed in West Africa, and understanding the factors that have driven the changes may help guide strategies to promote sustainable agriculture in the region. »
The technical mitigation potential of demand-side measures in the agri-food sector: a preliminary assessment of available measures
Published by CGIAR,
This report by CGIAR assesses the availability of demand-side measures, and looks at evidence of these measures’ impacts on behavior that directly results in emissions from the agri-food sector. The authors review the effectiveness of these measures for dietary change and reductions in food loss and waste, with a focus on developing countries, where agrifood emissions are projected to grow most rapidly and where the gaps in knowledge are largest. »
Co-creation of knowledge
Published by Farming Matters,
This magazine illustrates how the collective creation of knowledge lies at the heart of agro-ecology rooted in family farming. It presents stories of diverse actors who have jointly created agro-ecological solutions that are suited to their own, local contexts. Agro-ecology can be seen as knowledge-intensive and for successful outcomes the combination of different types of knowledge is essential. In the context of climate change, knowledge co-creation is especially relevant and urgent since developing climate resilient agriculture needs knowledge related to locally rooted adaptation strategies. »
Global tree cover and biomass carbon on agricultural land: the contribution of agroforestry to global and national carbon budgets
Published by Nature Research,
This paper by Nature.com assesses the role of trees on agricultural land and their significance for carbon sequestration at a global level, along with recent change trends. Agroforestry systems and tree cover on agricultural land make an important contribution to climate change mitigation, but are not systematically accounted for in either global carbon budgets or national carbon accounting. Remote sensing data show that in 2010, 43% of all agricultural land globally had at least 10% tree cover and that this has increased by 2% over the previous ten years. »
A preventable crisis: El Nino and La Nina events need earlier responses and a renewed focus on prevention
Published by Oxfam,
This report addresses various recommendations to deal with the current El Nino and the forecast of La Nina. According to Oxfam, El Nino was a broadly preventable crisis and the severity of El Nino’s impacts is a reflection of the world’s failure to provide comprehensive and long-term strategies to anticipate, prepare and adapt. To end this cycle of failure, there is an urgent need for humanitarian action where the situation is already dire, to prepare for La Niña later this year, to commit to comprehensive new measures to build communities’ resilience, and to mobilize global action to address climate change. »
Integrated community food production. A compendium of climate-resilient agriculture options
Published by CGIAR,
This booklet by CGIAR is compendium of best practices that brings together practical ecologically sound and nutrition-sensitive approaches to improving the productivity of backyard, community and family farms. With the increasing awareness of the importance of safe and healthy diets, there is a resurgence of interest in these complementary pathways to household level food security. »
Reducing risks to food security from climate change
Published by Global Food Security,
This article is addressing an action oriented research agenda towards the challenges that climate-change brings. The authors see a strong research-implementation gap, as the growing number of climate impact studies on crop yields, provides marginal increases in knowledge. Therefore, the authors call for the scientific agenda to turn its attention to practical options in the face of climate change. According to the authors, the new agenda will face four key challenges. »
Proceedings GACSA Annual Forum
Published by GACSA,
During the GACSA Annual Forum, the Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) community came together for 4 days under the theme CSA in Action. Governments, farmers, businesses, research organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and academia from various corners of the globe, came to Rome from 14-17 June with a common purpose; how to accelerate action on the three pillars of CSA (productivity, adaptation and mitigation). »
Feeding Climate Change: What the Paris Agreement means for food and beverage companies
Published by Oxfam,
This policy paper (PDF) by Oxfam presents new data commissioned from the research consultancy CE Delft on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions footprints and water scarcity footprints of major food commodities. The data demonstrate the vital role the food and beverage industry can and must play in turning the Paris Agreement into a springboard for the stronger climate action needed. »
Climate solutions that work for farmers
Published by CTA,
This book by The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is offering 14 best practises and policies that increase agricultural productivity and farmers’ resilience to climate change. Key ingredients for success can be distilled out of these cases, such as active farmer participation and youth attraction. Projects which involve high levels of initial investment or drudgery, fail to attract young people, and are costly in terms of time and labour are unlikely to be successful. »
Understanding farmers’ indicators in climate-smart agriculture prioritization in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT).
Published by CIAT,
This book presents a study that identifies indicators that farmers use to prioritize agricultural innovations, in general and climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in particular. The study was held in Kilolo and Mbarali Districts in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania. Using a participatory approach, the study finds that yield, income, cost, labour, availability of inputs and equipment, time, and knowledge are important indicators for farmers to prioritize agricultural practices that they implement. »
A gender-responsive approach to climate-smart agriculture: Evidence and guidance for practitioners
Published by GACSA, CGIAR, FAO,
This brief from GACSA, CGIAR and FAO focus on taking a gender-responsive approach to Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA). This means that the particular needs, priorities, and realities of men and women are recognized and adequately addressed in the design and application of CSA so that both men and women can equally benefit. »
Addressing the yield gap in rainfed crops: a review
Published by Agronomy for Sustainable Development Journal,
This article in the Agronomy for Sustainable Development Journal explores some of the existing methods to assess potential grain yield, the size of the gap between average and rainfall-limited potential yield and to suggest pathways for future gains in crop yields in the presence of soil degradation, climate change and seasonal variability of rainfall. They focus mainly on cereal and grain legume crops but recognise that oilseed crops such as canola and mustard play an important role in many rainfed cropping systems. »
How can we develop value chain programs that address climate risks?
Published by CCAFS-CIGAR,
This info note provides guidance for the design and development of climate-smart value chains. It provides lessons learned from the learning event on 25 February 2016 in Rome, held by IFAD and the CCAFS-CIGAR. Through a simple five step process, it provides a range of tools and resources that are available to supportthe development of climate-smart value chains in different stages. The key conclusion of the learning event is that building incountry capacity to use relevant tools for real decisions is even more important than building the tools. »
Timescales of transformational climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan African agriculture
Published by Nature Climate Change,
In this article the authors develop a temporal uncertainty framework, in which different phases and timeframes needed to ensure a transformation in sub-Saharan agriculture to adapt to climate change are presented. Climate change is projected to constitute a significant threat to food security if no adaptation actions are taken. Therefore, transformation of agricultural systems is necessary in some cases. »
Timescales of transformational climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan African agriculture
Published by Nature Climate Change,
This article provides a temporal uncertainty framework to assess when and where cultivation of key crops in sub-Saharan Africa becomes unviable thanks to climate change. The study reports potential transformational changes for all major crops during the twenty-first century, as climates shift and areas become unsuitable. »
Keys to transition to agroecology
Published by ISSUU,
This book written by Jelleke de Nooy van Tol discusses how we can support and accelerate the transition to agro-ecology practices worldwide. Lessons learned from the frontrunners show that personal leadership and individual action are utmost important. De Nooy van Tol emphasizes that knowledge systems need to change, since now they are too tightly knit to industrial agriculture, and monoculture production systems. New thinking in agricultural research for development is needed to facilitate change instead of providing "objective" knowledge. »
Adaptation measures in agricultural systems
Published by CGIAR,
This working paper (PDF) from CGIAR synthesizes the most up-to-date knowledge on actions and institutions that bolster smallholder farmers’ climate resilience, drawing upon research from agricultural systems across CGIAR’s diverse portfolio. The adaptation measures are identified as taking place above the level of farmers’ practices on the field. »
Case studies on climate change and African coastal fisheries: a vulnerability analysis and recommendations for adaptation options
Published by FAO,
This report by FAO shows the nature of the impacts of climate change on, and vulnerabilities of fisheries in different parts of Africa, to identify current and potential coping mechanisms/strategies as well as biophysical and social characteristics/attributes that increase resilience to these impacts. The report consists of five chapters. Each chapter includes observations on the adaptive capacity of the social-ecological system and concludes with observations on the potential role of fisheries management institutions to reduce vulnerability to climate change. »
Overcoming food security challenges within an energy/water/food nexus approach
Published by Sustainability journal,
This article argues that to overcome food security challenges, the application of an energy, water and food nexus approach is needed. This can be done following three main pathways: employing sustainable production methods in agriculture, changing diets, and reducing waste in all stages of the food chain. »
Agroecology in Africa: Mitigation the old new way
Published by Oakland Institute,
This article is highlighting the way millions of African farmers, with their indigenous systems, adapt to climate change. 33 case studies released by the Oakland Institute demonstrate with facts and figures how an agricultural transformation respectful of the farmers and their environment can yield immense economic, social, and food security benefits while also fighting climate change and restoring soils and the environment. »
Shock Waves : Managing the impacts of climate change on poverty
Published by World Bank Group,
This report elaborates on an integrated strategy to tackle two unprecedented global challenges: ending poverty and stabilizing climate change. It examines the potential impact of climate change and climate policies on poverty reduction. It also provides guidance on how to create a “win-win” situation so that climate change policies contribute to poverty reduction and poverty-reduction policies contribute to climate change mitigation and resilience building. »
Coffee-Banana Intercropping: Implementation guidance for policymakers and investors
Published by GACSA, CGIAR, CCAFS, IITA & ISABU,
The Practice Briefs by The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA) intend to provide practical operational information on climate-smart agricultural practices. This practice brief (PDF) focuses on Coffee-Banana Intercropping (CBI) to address all 3 pillars of CSA in a multifaceted way. »
Ethiopia Rising: Red Terror to Green Revolution
Published by Ethiopia Rising,
The documentary Ethiopia Rising, tells the story of how Ethiopia’s people restored vast areas of degraded land to productivity. Thousands of hectares of degraded land were transformed into vast hillside forests and fertile valleys. »
Climate change impacts on livestock
Published by CGIAR,
This working paper summarizes projected climate change impacts on livestock across Africa. It argues that an enabling technical and policy environment will be needed to ensure livestock keepers can adapt to climate change and enhance their livelihoods and food security. »
Can agroforestry address food security concerns in a changing climate?
Published by SIANI,
This discussion brief by the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI) is based on the workshop “Can agroforestry address food security concerns in a changing climate?”. The workshop brought together leading scholars-practitioners from five parts of the world - Sweden, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Ecuador - to share knowledge of and aspirations for agroforestry systems. »
Farms of Change: African smallholders responding to an uncertain climate future
Published by Montepellier Panel,
This report focuses on how African small-holder farmers respond to an uncertain climate future and how they can be agents of change. In addition, it focuses on what financial options are available and how funding could be improved for this. Impacts of climate change are already felt in Africa. Mean temperatures in Africa will rise faster than the global average, and agricultural losses in the region will amount to 2% to 7% of GDP by 2100. »
Climate-smart agriculture: towards sustainable landscapes and food systems mobilizing science for transitions
Published by CSA2015,
The 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture, took place in Montpellier, France, in March 2015. This statement summarises the conclusions of the meeting, which will be channeled to the UNFCCC negotiators meeting in Paris in December 2015 for the COP 21. »
Advances in climate change adaptation research
Published by Paepard,
The AfricaInteract Continental Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya in March 2015. More than 200 delegates attended the conference. At the conference, this synthesis report (PDF) on adaptation on climate change in Africa was launched. The report contains findings and assessment of gaps in research and policy on three separate themes: urban areas, agriculture and health. It provides a synthesis of key headline findings from 12 regional reviews on research-policy linkages on adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa. »
How to feed nine billion within the planet’s boundaries: the need for an agroecological approach
Published by SIANI,
This policy brief by the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI) explains how agroecology could be a useful tool for creating sustainable and resilient food systems that put farmers in the centre. Drawing on the Planetary Boundaries framework, this brief suggests how agroeocological practices can reduce the pressure created by the existing agriculture practice on each of the nine Planetary Boundaries and pinpoints key interventions for facilitation of agroecological transformation. »
Increasing agricultural production and resilience through improved agrometeorological services
Published by World Bank group,
This publication (PDF) is intended to support the World Bank project “Agroweather Tools for Adapting to Climate Change” in increasing the adaptive capacity of farming communities in Kenya and Ethiopia. The author refers to the creation of financially sustainable weather observation networks in Guinea and the Philippines that are likely applicable to many developing settings, including those of East Africa and the Horn of Africa. The study recommends investment in early warning systems for weather and investment in climate-smart agriculture to help farmers mitigate effects of harsh weather. »
Sustainable intensification revisited
Published by IIED,
This briefing by IIED revisits the term ‘sustainable intensification’. The paper makes a distinction in what it should be according to the authors — a useful guiding framework for raising agricultural productivity on existing arable land in a sustainable manner; and what it should not be — a paradigm for achieving food security overall. The... »
Ecosystem services, agriculture and neonicotinoids
Published by EASAC,
This report (PDF) of EASAC by a group of researchers, highlights the importance of the relation between agriculture and ecosystem services, as a critical part of a sustainable agricultural system. More and more studies show the severe effects of the use of neonicotinoids on a wide range of organisms that provide ecosystem services like pollination... »
Responding to crop failure: Understanding farmers’ coping strategies in Southern Malawi
Published by Sustainability Journal,
This article in the Sustainability Journal examines farmers’ coping strategies for crop failure and the determinants of their choices using household level data from rural southern Malawi. The results of the study highlight that farmers are not responding directly to climate variability, but to crop failure, which is influenced by climate stress, as well as... »
A climate smart agriculture tool: increasing farming system resilience in East Africa through adoption and mitigation
Published by CIAT,
A team of researchers from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in collaboration with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) carried out a Climate Smart Agriculture Rapid Appraisal (CSA-RA) in four districts in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT). The CSA-RA, part of a project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), was used as a tool to assess within and between district variations in farming systems, agricultural management practices, challenges for current agricultural practices, and climate vulnerability among smallholder mixed crop-livestock farmers. »
Is climate-smart farming a way out of food insecurity in east Africa?
Published by The East African,
This article by The East African provides a civil-society perspective on climate smart agriculture (CSA) and questions its current practices in East Africa. The article argues that widespread use of fertilisers and other chemicals does not necessarily guarantee increased productivity neither does it ensure that smallholder farmers benefit. »
Global changes, livestock and vulnerability: the social construction of markets as an adaptive strategy
Published by CIFOR,
In this publication (PDF) by the Center for International Forestry Research (Cifor), scientists argue that people in Mali use trade as a medium to adapt their way of life in the face of climate change and other forms of stress. This study highlights the importance of considering the social construction of livestock market systems and marketing behaviours as adaptive strategies of livestock producers to multiple changes... »
Coping with climate change: the roles of genetic resources for food and agriculture
Published by FAO,
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) argues that genetic resources have a critical role to play in feeding the world in light of climate change, as shown in this infographic. A recent book (PDF) of FAO, “Coping with climate change: the roles of genetic resources for food and agriculture”, highlights the potential use of genetic resources as a basis for adaptation and of an ecosystem approach to meet the challenges of climate change. The report covers plant, animal, forest, aquatic, invertebrate and micro-organism genetic resources. »
Diversification practices reduce organic to conventional yield gap
Published by The Royal Society Proceedings B,
This article by a group of researchers, published in Proceedings B by Royal Society, compares organic and conventional yields by using a new meta-dataset and a new hierarchical analytical framework that can better account for the heterogeneity and structure in the data. Their main finding is that organic yields are only 19.2% (±3.7%) lower than... »
A greener Burkina: sustainable farming techniques, land reclamation and improved livelihoods
Published by ODI Development progress,
This report (PDF) from The Overseas Development Institute (ODI), describes a case study where degraded land in Burkina Faso was brought into productive use through the application of improved traditional farming techniques. Three main factors have contributed to achieving this progress: 1. farmers had valuable local knowledge of suitable and efficient traditional farming methods; 2. »
The Africa Agriculture Status Report 2014: climate change and smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa
Published by AGRA,
The Africa Agriculture Status Report 2014 (PDF) presents a comprehensive overview of smallholder agriculture in Africa and addresses the 'climate-smart agricultural’ (CSA) sector in the continent. The role of soil fertility and plant nutrition in strengthening the vigor of farming systems and make them less vulnerable to climate change is explicitly addressed in this report. »
Growing more with less: China’s progress in agricultural water management and reallocation
Published by ODI,
This case study (PDF) by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) focuses on China’s ability to get ‘more crop per drop’ by improving agricultural water use. The case study identifies four factors driving improvements: Chinese decision-makers’ balancing of needs for water for food versus growth; institutional and policy reform; major government investment; and local technical, economic and regulatory programmes. »
Ecological intensification of agriculture – sustainable by nature
Published by Wageningen UR,
In this article (PDF) by Pablo Tittonell, conceptual differences between sustainable and ecological intensification as used in research, development, policy and the industry are examined. Particular focus is on the balance between agriculture and nature. The study compares different discourses on models of intensification. »
The prospect of low-carbon rice production: lessons from China
Published by CTA,
This article (PDF) of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), summarizes some realistic methods for reducing methane emissions in rice production. The authors present two case studies on efforts to mitigate methane emissions, such as irrigation management, the use of suitable rice cultivars (e.g. water-saving and drought-resistant rice, WDR) and combinations of different fertilizers. »
Climate change induced transformations of agricultural systems: insights from a global model
Published by IOP Science,
This study by IIASA researchers provides a global scenario analysis that covers nine different climate scenarios, 18 crops and 4 crop management systems, as well as the interactions between crop production, consumption, prices, and trade. It specifically examines adaptations that are investment-intensive and not easily reversible, such as building new water management infrastructure for irrigation, or increases and decreases to the production capacity of a region. »
Modelling adaptation to climate change in agriculture
Published by OECD,
This paper (PDF) by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), investigates how climate change can affect agricultural production and proposes some adaptation measures that could be undertaken to mitigate the negative effects of climate change while enhancing the positive ones. The paper stresses the importance of planned adaptation measures and highlights possible strategies for reducing risk and improving resilience. »
Climate-Smart Agriculture and resource tenure in Sub-Saharan Africa: a conceptual framework
Published by FAO,
In this study (PDF) by FAO, authors analyse the linkages between property rights and adoption of climate-smart agriculture (CSA). First, they discuss key characteristics of four CSA practices related to sustainable land management. Then, they lay out a conceptual framework for evaluating the pathways by which expanding property rights and strengthening tenure security affects incentives to adopt technologies broadly, and finally apply the framework to each of the four CSA practices. »
Vision 2030: Making current approaches work for sustainable agriculture
Published by AgriProFocus,
An expert meeting was organised in September 2014 by Agri-ProFocus to clarify different perspectives on agro-ecology and other approaches to promote sustainable agriculture, in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on achieving food and nutrition security for all by 2030. Meeting outcomes were aimed to inform the Food Security policy note of Dutch Minister Ploumen and Dutch Secretary of State Dijksma, as well as the own practice of different stakeholders. »
Building a new agricultural future: Supporting agro-ecology for people and the planet
Published by Oxfam,
This paper (PDF) by Oxfam aims to contribute to the on-going debate about sustainable agriculture. The paper shows how an agro-ecological approach provides a range of social, economic, and environmental benefits that—with the right policy support and associated investments—can be scaled up to enable smallholder farming communities to achieve food security and additional benefits. »
FAO Success stories on climate-smart agriculture
Published by FAO,
This booklet (PDF) by FAO is a compilation of successful and promising climate-smart initiatives in developing countries from around the world (such as Kenya, Tanzania, China, Vietnam, Peru and Nicaragua). The cases have been selected from the FAO Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Sourcebook (PDF), to show the diversity of potential options across different regions and agricultural systems... »
Final report for the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition
Published by FAO,
The final report of the two-day international symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition provides an overview of the Symposium and the COAG side-event. It gives insight into the key points discussed in the different sessions: ecological approaches, building synergies, people and economics, agro-ecology in practice: country examples by farmers and farmers’ associations and dialogue on ecological processes and health and nutrition. »
Climate change adaptation in crop production: Beware of illusions
Published by Global Food Security Journal,
This article (PDF) in the Global Food Security Journal, discusses three main causes of “adaptation illusions”, common ways in which studies misinterpret the adaptation benefits of various changes. Many potential changes in agricultural management and technology, including shifts in crop phenology and improved drought and heat tolerance, would help to improve crop productivity but do not necessarily represent true adaptations. »
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