Climate analogues: finding tomorrow’s agriculture today

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“Climate Analogues: Finding Tomorrow’s Agriculture Today” is an effort by CCAFS to make climate change adaptation a more tangible endeavour by encouraging the exchange of knowledge between communities. The idea is that the “analogues tool” helps to identify geographic areas where growing conditions today mirror future climates. Then to promote exchanges between the communities living in these areas so that learning can take place on agriculture practices that work well in those “future” climates and encourage discussion on how these practices can be adapted to local context to cope with potentially dramatic shifts in growing conditions over time.

Lead institution: CIAT and CCAFS

CIAT is an agricultural research institution. It focus on scientific solutions to hunger in the tropics, believing that eco-efficient agriculture—developing sustainable methods of food production—is the best way to eradicate hunger and improve livelihoods in the region. CIAT is also about partnerships and works together with likeminded organizations to enhance impact.

Climate communication aims:
The communications aims are to promote learning by interacting with peer groups and “seeing” what works. Dialogue how adaptive strategies can be used in the local context are also faciltated.

Communications/social learning characteristics:
Initially developed as a software tool (now with a web version), the idea is to make climate change more tangible by comparing similar geographic areas to those where a particular user lives and to demonstrate what their situation might look like in 30 years. Although an innovative idea, this is a top down information supply mechanism. In 2012, climate analogues plans to launch a second phase, where farmer exchanges are conducted between geographic locations. The goal is to build an inventory of local knowledge from around the world for regions that face similar challenges, and for those who take part in visit exchanges to learn and understand what adaptation options might be possible for them to adopt. If successful this has potential to develop into more of a triple loop social learning exercise where farmers learn from each other, implement changes and this in turn affects how exchanges and the “analogue tools” themselves are re-designed – bringing in local knowledge.

Policy makers, farmers and other local stakeholders in particular areas are they key targets.

Getting research into use (how this case study does or does not contribute to that):
This is a good example of a project with potential. Research has started off in relative isolation and it has been recognised that it needs to be brought closer to target audiences. This has initially been done in a fairly top down and linear way, but there is potential for this to change with the forthcoming farmer exchanges.

Evolution of the project (how has the project evolved or developed if known):
The web-based tool was first released in 2011, and the exchanges are planned for 2012.