G. Smith (CIAT)

Message from the directors

In 2014, as the focus on climate-smart agriculture sharpened, CCAFS helped advance the concept and practice in farmers’ fields and in global initiatives, through close collaboration with farmers, civil society, governments and researchers.

April 2014 saw the release of two reports under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Working Group II on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, and Working Group III on mitigation. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment reports provided a powerful impetus for the Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) movement, demonstrating the huge opportunities in agriculture and land use. Citations of papers by CGIAR and CCAFS scientists in the Fifth Assessment reports were orders of magnitude higher than in previous reports.

Growing momentum for CSA among governments, farmers and businesses culminated at the UN Climate Summit in New York, where the UN Secretary-General identified climate-smart agriculture as a priority area for adaptation and mitigation and launched the Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA). CCAFS worked with the CGIAR Consortium and multiple partners to host the inaugural meeting of GACSA, where numerous countries and agencies pledged support. The Knowledge Action Group of GACSA, co-led by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and CCAFS, provided some of the thinking to shape action.

Through CCAFS, CGIAR centres also expanded CSA work at the regional level, working with some of the major economic and agricultural communities. For example, CCAFS prepared the background papers for the ECOWAS launch of the West African CSA alliance; became the knowledge partner on the NEPAD-led Alliance for CSA in Africa; worked with COMESA to strengthen the capacity of UNFCCC negotiators on CSA; joined the Technical Group on Climate Change and Risk Management of the CAC Council to help chart regional strategy; and contributed to the 10-year ASEAN strategy paper for food, agriculture and forestry.

CCAFS subscribes to the Three-Thirds Principle: deep engagement with stakeholders to develop science-based solutions to practical problems. The Three-Thirds Principle is especially advanced at national level; CCAFS science feeds into policy processes in 20 countries. While some engagement focuses on climate change policies – mostly national adaptation plans and low-emissions development strategies – much of CCAFS work involves integrating CSA solutions in a diverse array of other policy processes, related for example to food security, agroforestry and genetic resources.

Three-Thirds Principle: one-third of effort engaging with partners to decide what needs to be done and how, one-third on doing the actual research, and one-third on strengthening capacity of next users to use and communicate the results of the research in order to achieve outcomes. Source: Fullana i Palmer P, et al 2011

But the real action needs to happen on and around farms. Thus CCAFS continued in 2014 to focus on weather advisory services, insurance products and technologies that are relevant to farmers. Much of the research directly involves farmers. Collaborative testing of laser land levelling in India and of crop diversification in coffee systems in Nicaragua, for example, deliver livelihood benefits directly to farmers as well as bringing wider-scale gains for mitigation and adaptation. CCAFS reaches farmers through established channels such as extension services and radio, and also experiments with newer media like text messaging. In 2014, CCAFS continued to work with the reality TV programme “Shamba Shape Up” that reaches more than 9 million viewers and has boosted Kenya’s GDP by an estimated USD 24 million through adoption of new practices by farmers.

Behind all the engagement and outreach there must be strong science! CGIAR centres that participate in CCAFS published around 90 new scientific papers in 2014, in journals such as Nature Climate Change, Global Environmental Change, Global Change Biology and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. CCAFS partners are already using many of the key outputs in 2014, such as the Climate-Smart Agricultural Prioritization (CSAP) toolkit in India and the Gender and Social Inclusion Toolbox across 19 countries.

Much work remains to be done. In 2015, CCAFS, under lead centre CIAT, will turn its attention to providing assessments of the wide range of CSA practices, assisting countries to prioritize their portfolios of investments, working with partners to establish a global aspirational target for greenhouse gas emission reductions in agriculture, renewing attention on gender and climate change, and helping shape agriculture in COP21 and beyond.

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Bruce Campbell, Program Director, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)
Ruben G. Echeverría, Director General of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)