Save the date! On Monday February 18, 10:00AM Central European Time (Convert Time Zone), we will broadcast our first online science seminar for 2013.
The seminar will explore the social dimensions of climate change: how development programming needs to embrace resilience, the transformative cornerstones of social science research for climate change, and gender and social differentiation in building agricultural climate resilience.
The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is very proud to be organising this seminar in partnership with both the Danish Institute of International Studies and Copenhagen University. With three short presentations, a panel discussion, and an open discussion during which the online audience can ask questions over chat, the seminar promises to be a dynamic start to your working week. Join in the discussion on twitter using #climaterights
Bit by bit, East African smallholder farmers are adapting to climate change, according to a study we recently published in the journal Food Security. The story received significant attention from a number of global and African media outlets, highlighting both the positive aspects (farmers are adapting) and pointing to the ongoing challenges (they are not adapting quickly enough and not using well-tested approaches). Here are some of the highlights.
Reuters said that African farmers must do more to beat climate change, a story that was picked by worldwide media including the Huffington Post, the Jerusalem Post, Reuters AlertNet, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), and Scientific American.
Voice of America wrote how East African Farmers Plant Seeds of Innovation. In an interview, Patti Kristjanson, who led the research, described how East African farmers are aware of the extremes of climate change, but the driving factor behind their innovations is to ensure there’s enough to eat.
The New York Times featured the study in its Dot Earth blog. Andrew Revkin wrote that that the study’s conclusions show “there’s enormous potential to boost human resilience to climate extremes — whether the result of building greenhouse gases or nature’s built-in shocks — in places that are in harm’s way.” Read more »
Written by Chase Sova
Putting agriculture in the climate change agenda has raised a number of important issues such as threats of trade barriers, diversion of REDD+ funds to agriculture, how to deal with its cross-cutting and complex nature, and the links between agricultural mitigation and adaptation. Many of these issues have already become central talking points in UNFCCC negotiations (read David Howlett’s related analysis on “Political Economy and Food Security” for more information). However, it is worth remembering that these issues have much broader relevance to the ability to produce feasible adaptation and mitigation solutions in agriculture.
Irrespective of where we are in the process of embedding agriculture into efforts to fight climate change (be it at the negotiating table in Durban or a subsistence farming community in Western Kenya), we must address issues of scalability, the adaptation-mitigation interface, equity in carbon payments, and agriculture’s cross-sectoral nature, in order to ensure climate measures are most effective.
This post looks more closely at one of these issues; namely scalability, or a system's capacity to adapt to changes in size and complexity. Read more »
Yesterday we launched a series of reports which look at the effectiveness of global climate models in predicting agricultural impacts in Africa and South Asia, with a particular emphasis on their ability to predict how climate change will affect key crops in those regions. The results are not surprising: we don't have perfect climate projections for agriculture, and in many cases, the data is quite weak. So what can we do about it?
In a live video seminar yesterday, lead authors Mark New from the University of Cape Town and Richard Washington from Oxford University, noted the weaknesses and emphasized that in some cases, a variety of models can be used together to overcome individual weaknesses. This approach, however, requires quite a lot of time and effort. On the bright side, the authors noted that more and more information is becoming available. The studies also highlight where models need further development, providing a useful guide for research investments. In case you missed it you can still watch a recording of the session.
The overarching message is that this uncertainty not an excuse for inaction. In response to yesterday's report, our colleagues at CIAT have published an insightful analysis of the role of uncertainty. Rather than being something that dogs climate science, uncertainty must be perceived as a basic feature and can even be a positive driver: Read more »
by Lisen Stenberg and Vanessa Meadu
There is no one size fits all solution for climate change adaptation in agriculture. Because climate change will impact agriculture differently all over the world, and have different effects on different crops and farming systems, a wide range of adaptation options are necessary. These begin with relatively straightforward actions such as changing seed varieties and changing planting times, to adopting new methods or techniques, changing to a new crop altogether, and in extreme circumstances, ceasing to farm and moving to a new economic activity.
A new report from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) highlights opportunities and current initiatives for climate adaptation in agriculture, with a focus on Southeast Asia. The report, "Climate Change Adaptation for Smallholder Farmers in Southeast Asia" (PDF) notes that countries in tropical areas are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Moreover, Southeast Asia has a fast-growing population and is therefore increasingly dependent on agriculture and natural resources. The region has already been experiencing climate change induced phenomena, which enforces the need for adaptation measures.
par Sonja Vermeulen
Au cours de l’année 2011, les catastrophes naturelles ont causées des pertes économiques mondiales de US$ 380 milliards les plus hautes de tous les temps, dépassant largement le précédent record de US$ 220 milliards, atteint en 2005. Si les pertes les plus coûteuses ont été dues aux séismes du Japon et Nouvelle-Zélande, les catastrophes d’origine météorologiques, souvent liées à La Niña, ont été également nombreuses et amplement répandues: une grande sécheresse en Afrique de l’Est, une surabondance des cyclones dans l'Atlantique tropical, et les pires inondations depuis des décennies dans certaines régions de la Thaïlande, le Cambodge, la Namibie, le Brésil, les Etats-Unis et l’Australie.
Avec le changement climatique, les événements météorologiques extrêmes tels que les canicules, les sécheresses, les tempêtes et les inondations devraient augmenter en fréquence et/ou intensité. Les catastrophes du passé sont une source de leçons précieuses pour la préparation future. Globalement, les catastrophes naturelles ont à la fois des impacts négatifs et positifs sur les économies nationales. Ce qui est particulièrement ambigu c’est leur impact relatif sur les ménages ruraux les plus pauvres. Certaines opinions soutiennent que les chocs climatiques frappent la capacité des agriculteurs pauvres à réinvestir dans les saisons à venir; dans ces cas des mesures de protection de risques comme l'assurance sur les récoltes ou les aides sociales peuvent aider. Selon d’autres, les chocs apportent de nouvelles opportunités pour les pauvres et les programmes de protection des risques sont un frein qui décourage leur adaptation à long terme aux changements environnementaux. Read more »
by Sonja Vermeulen
Over 2011, natural disasters caused all-time-high global economic losses of US$380bn, easily surpassing the previous record of $220bn set in 2005. While the most expensive losses were due to the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, weather-related catastrophes, many linked to La Niña, were numerous and widespread: a major drought in East Africa, a glut of Atlantic tropical cyclones, and the worst floods in decades in parts of Thailand, Cambodia, Namibia, Brazil, the USA and Australia.
Extreme weather events like heatwaves, droughts, storms and floods are expected to increase in frequency or severity – or both – with climate change. Past catastrophes provide invaluable lessons for future preparedness. Overall, natural disasters have both negative and positive impacts on national economies. Particularly ambiguous is their relative impacts on poor rural households. One view is that climate shocks knock back the ability of poor farmers to reinvest in future seasons; risk-protection measures such as crop insurance or social welfare can help. Another view is that shocks provide new opportunities for the poor and that risk-protection programs are a disincentive to them to adapt to longer-term environmental changes. Read more »
Farmers, researchers, and government officials alike recognize that adaptation to climate change must take place now. But how can this be done most effectively? It was clear from the ARDD learning event on lessons from the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) program, funded by the Canada’s IDRC and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), that one of the biggest challenges is the need for climate change adaptation solutions to be context specific. A one size fits all approach to policy will not work. This has led many researchers, practitioners and funders to focus on local participatory approaches to adaptation planning and building adaptive capacity. Read more »
In 2010 a cluster of United Nations and pan-African organizations released a little book entitled Climate Smart Agriculture (PDF).
Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) “seeks to increase sustainable productivity, strengthen farmers’ resilience, reduce agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration.” The little book and the concept are getting a lot of attention here at COP17. Read more »
Guest post by Chase Sova (CIAT).
When we think of climate change adaptation in agriculture the first thing that comes to mind is improved crop varieties. Water harvesting and irrigation schemes may also be high on our list. Perhaps too is crop diversification. But on a recent trip to western Kenya, one agricultural community reminded us that sometimes the interventions that can most improve the adaptive capacities of small-scale farmers may not occur on or even near the farm.
Othidhe is a small agricultural community in Kenya’s Nyando Basin (click for map) set against the backdrop of the eastern branch of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. A settlement community, Othidhe was founded shortly after Kenya’s independence in 1963 and is the product of a targeted land reform program. The settlers in Othidhe received ten hectares of land from the government with the explicit purpose of developing the region in to a sugarcane production zone. Today, vast fields of sugarcane dominate the treeless landscape (clear-cut over several decades to expand cane production) disturbed only by the smoky stacks of the Muhoroni Sugar Factory. Read more »
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)