Rural livelihoods, food security and rural transformation under climate change

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Despite decades of attention to agricultural development, food security and rural poverty, poverty and food insecurity remain, especially amongst rural dwellers in Asia, Africa and Central America. With climate change the challenges only increase and will further intensify as extreme events and variable weather patterns make small-scale production even more difficult.

For any list of recommendations, leverage points or action points, the criticism can easily be that we have heard it
all before. There are no silver bullets and some actions and strategies can have mixed outcomes, though nascent
and yet-to-be-developed technologies could shift rural livelihoods, agriculture and the broader food systems in
unexpected ways in the coming decade, both positively and negatively.

Our thesis is that transformational change in rural livelihoods is needed for climate change adaptation, that this
change needs to embrace the broader food system, and that these actions can have benefits in multiple dimensions
beyond climate change adaptation: poverty, nutrition, employment and the environment. If transformational change
is to be achieved, several elements will be needed in synergy, with less or more emphasis on particular elements,
depending on context and considering household heterogeneity.


Thornton PK, Loboguerrero AM, Campbell BM, Kavikumar KS, Mercado L, Shackleton S. 2019. Rural livelihoods, food security and rural transformation under climate change. Rotterdam and Washington, DC: Global Commission on Adaptation.


  • Thornton, Philip K.
  • Loboguerrero Rodriguez, Ana María
  • Campbell, Bruce M.
  • Mercado, Leida
  • Shackleton, Sheona
  • Kavikumar, KS