Targeting Climate Solutions for Vulnerable Farmers

Regional Integrated Assessment Findings presented at Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture

By: Sabine Homann-Kee Tui and Jenna Behrendt

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“Catalysing local innovations and action to accelerate scaling up of Climate Smart Agriculture,” the focal theme of the 4th Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture (GSC-CSA), encouraged scientists, stakeholders, and policy makers from around the world to share concepts, methods, approaches and lessons towards the implementation of and practical advancement for Climate Smart Agriculture based on the “triple win” goals of food security, adaptation and mitigation.

The conference was held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 28-30 November 2017. Attended by 240 delegates from 46 countries, the conference focused on implementation, results and impact, and actions to support stakeholders addressing and engaging in the key global agreements – Sustainable Development Goals – Agenda 2030; Paris Climate Agreement; and Addis Financing for Development Agreement. It provided opportunity to address key challenges to achieve these goals, inducing the need to catalyze locally adapted innovations as well as technological, policy and management innovations.

Experiences from the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) Regional Integrated Assessments (RIAs) demonstrate a novel approach towards co-developing climate smart agriculture solutions amongst communities of scientists and stakeholders. With the culmination of five years of research completed, Carolyn Mutter, AgMIP International Program Manager at Columbia University in New York, USA, and Sabine Homann-Kee Tui, Principal Investigator of the AgMIP Crop-Livestock Intensification Project (CLIP), South Eastern Africa, at ICRISAT in Harare, Zimbabwe, each presented key AgMIP findings.

Mutter shared key information from AgMIP RIA findings for sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia Regional Research Teams. The RIA methodology enables local scientists and stakeholders to jointly and iteratively develop and test adaptation packages using the protocoled, multiple model AgMIP analysis. In addition to enabling evaluation of the packages, the method identifies distributional impacts across the community, as well as vulnerable populations.

The RIA analyses had some consistent themes across the study locations. Most notably, climate impacts will not affect households equally; there will be some farmers who could benefit from climate change, counter to prior messages suggesting climate change will have only negative impacts. In addition, the co-developed adaptation packages can, but do not always, offset the impacts of climate change. This result provides helpful evidence to motivate more transformative actions that may need to be considered. Finally, results show that off-farm factors, such as global and regional economic conditions and agricultural prices, are themselves very important factors when it comes to longer term reduction of vulnerability and improvement of farm household wellbeing. Examples of results are available for viewing via the AgMIP Impacts Explorer.

Discussing one of the RRTs in more detail, Sabine Homann-Kee Tui shared findings from the AgMIP Crop Livestock Intensification Project (CLIP) implemented in Zimbabwe. Homann-Kee Tui conveyed several major messages: improving farm management and market conditions in an enabling environment can increase farm benefits substantially, and provides important opportunities for the extremely poor. Investing in these interventions today makes climate change adaptation less significant (Figure 2). Investing in sustainability pathways can reduce vulnerability, and halve poverty by 2050. Stakeholders surveyed in Zimbabwe highlighted the significant role sustainability pathways play in reducing poverty and mitigating other social issues, including gender, food security and nutrition.

The CLIP findings, also reported at ICRISAT, suggest scenarios and pathways developed with stakeholder inputs are an important part of systematic approaches for influencing trajectories towards sustainability and connecting decision makers to the impact of CSA interventions. Matching AgMIP simulations and stakeholder engagement processes with ongoing Innovation Platform projects and co-designing packages with stakeholder scenarios can assess intervention impacts, improve connections with policy makers and remove barriers that prevent CSA adoption. As noted by David Bergvinson, Director General at ICRISAT, “AgMIP is providing valuable tools to inform science-based policy decisions…We also need to hone our skills of communicating with policy makers and serve as an innovation broker between the public and private sectors for large scale implementation.”

The GSC-CSA concluded with the drafting of a Johannesburg Statement. Among the highlighted areas for increased recognition is “CSA occurs at multiple scales: local, national, regional, and global necessitating the need to work across scales to improve governance. This includes coherence between short-term and longer term planning working across sectors and scales.”

The protocoled and documented AgMIP approaches for developing targeted climate solutions provide substantial support for stakeholder engagement throughout CSA implementation. The approach can help to illustrate both near- and longer-term trade-offs among key factors, with opportunities for increased harmonization across scale, as nations and communities work to improve agricultural systems and reduce poverty and hunger.

Additional highlights of the conference are available at http://csa2017.nepad.org/en/.

FIGURE 2 | An image showing RRT Research findings.