CCAFS tackles three of the greatest challenges facing humankind in the 21st century: food security, adaptation to climate change and mitigation of climate change. To meet these challenges, CCAFS is organized around five Research Flagships, with each Flagship being focused on a particular challenge. Each challenge is itself extremely complex and multi-faceted, requiring specialised knowledge and expertise.
At the same time, there is a need to bring these different areas of speciality knowledge together. We need to understand how one solution designed to achieve one objective might have effects, both good and bad, on other objectives. For example, does a practice that is designed to help farmers adapt to changing rainfall patterns increase or decrease on-farm emissions?
In the end, it is no good to develop a portfolio of solutions with no understanding of how those solutions compliment, hinder or affect one another. What we need to understand is, how the whole portfolio of technologies and practices being proposed combines to address the myriad challenges of climate change and food security.
For this reason, CCAFS research is brought together within an approach known as climate-smart agriculture. An integrative strategy, climate-smart agriculture interlinks solutions that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.
Climate-smart agriculture is, in turn, implemented on the ground in CCAFS' Climate-Smart Villages. Climate-Smart villages are sites where different practices and technologies are co-developed, tested and refined with local farmers. In these villages, it is possible to see how one practice and technology might have multiple effects, unimaginable to researchers working in a laboratory. It is also possible to develop solutions in a participatory manner, drawing on local knowledge and expertise. And in a way that is sensitive to local customs and supportive of all social groups.