Integrated climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies ensure food security and reduce agriculture’s ecological footprint. Adaptation is a priority for smallholder farmers, who will pursue mitigation when it brings benefits without increasing cost and risk.

Jarvis et al., 2011

Bellmann et al., 2011

Extra facts

  • There are technical and institutional strategies for integrating adaptation and mitigation to achieve food security. Technical strategies include land and animal management practices. Institutional strategies focus on communication, governance and financial services.
  • Sustainable intensification can increase agricultural yields per unit of land, water, nutrients and energy, within a holistic land use and food system framework that accounts for ethics and social equity (Garnett and Godfray 2012).
  • Sustainable land management practices include soil and nutrient management, improved water harvesting and retention, pest and disease control, improved ecosystem resiliency, preservation of genetic resources and efficient harvesting and early transformation of agricultural products to reduce post-harvest losses (FAO 2010).
  • A technical strategy for irrigated rice, Alternate Wet and Dry Irrigation (AWDI) allows rice fields to dry intermittently during the rice growing stage—instead of keeping the fields continuously submerged (Chapagain et al. 2011).
  • The use of nitrogen-fixing leguminous trees in agricultural systems (agroforestry) improves soil fertility and soil moisture.
  • Integrated livestock strategies—including grassland management practices and increased ruminant productivity and efficiency—can improve production efficiency and resilience.
  • Other technical strategies include the restoration of degraded lands (by improving vegetation cover, soil organic matter, biodiversity and productivity) and the development of diverse, improved plant varieties that draw on local varieties, wild relatives and breeding.
  • Needed institutional strategies include strong integrative policies and national-level plans for climate change across all sectors.
  • Farmers need better and more easily available information, particularly on climate and weather, but also on policies and services. This would necessitate improvements in research, data and decision tools.
  • Other institutional strategies include improved incentives and enforcement in forest governance and clear land allocation rules, including clear communal or individual land tenure for smallholder farmers.
  • Some of the most important financial strategies are insurance schemes that enable farmers to overcome the impacts of climate shocks (floods, droughts, etc.). Other financial incentives and instruments include conditional climate finance, climate taxes, payments for environmental services, social security schemes, employment guarantee schemes and subsidies to enable switching from one practice to another.
  • Community-based innovation, such as Farmer Field Schools for farmer education and empowerment, should be supported, along with local organizations and their capacity for collective decision-making and action.
  • Voluntary standards, protocols and metrics are also among the institutional strategies for integrating agricultural adaptation and mitigation.
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Methods, caveats and issues

  • Rural development that addresses smallholders’ and pastoralists’ concerns by helping them build their assets and resilience will always be the crux of positive climate change interventions in agriculture.
  • Some mitigation measures may have negative effects in relation to adaptation and food security, and on the broader environmental footprint of agriculture and land use. For example, afforestation can in some cases lead to decreased food security, substantial losses in stream flow, increased soil salinization and acidification and loss of biodiversity (Jackson et al. 2005). It is crucial to deal with trade-offs, as it is not always not possible to find ‘win-win’ solutions.
  • The best strategies to integrate adaptation and mitigation differ widely across regions and contexts—and thus need to be locally designed rather than designed in response to a global blueprint.
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  • Bellmann C, Campbell B, Mann W, Meijer E, Meléndez-Ortiz R, Streck C, Tennigkeit T, Vermeulen S, Wilkes A. 2011. Addressing agriculture in climate change negotiations: a scoping report. Product of the Global Dialogues on Climate Change and Agriculture initiated in August 2010. Dillon, Colorado: Meridian Institute. (Available from media/Files/Projects/CCAg%20microsite/Agriculture%20and %20Climate%20Change%20Scoping%20Report.ashx)
  • Chapagain T, Riseman A, Yamaji E. 2011. Achieving more with less water: alternate wet and dry irrigation (AWDI) as an alternative to the conventional water management practices in rice farming. Journal of Agricultural Science 3:3-13. (Available from
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