This section introduces a range of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices and technologies within seven entry points for CSA; soil management, crop management, water management, livestock management, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, and energy management. Practices are understood broadly as ways of doing things, for example, precision farming, tillage, and fertilization; these are all CSA practices. Technologies are new materials introduced into new or old practices, and might include new drought-tolerant varieties; a hardy breed of cattle, or a new slow-release fertilizer. Many of the entry points involve interventions at the farm level. However, in many instances, the management of natural resources will also need to be considered at the landscape level (see CSA system approaches). In the majority of cases, there will be an inevitable and desirable nexus among entry points.
Maintaining or improving soil health is essential for sustainable and productive agriculture. ‘Healthy’ soil will help to push sustainable agricultural productivity close to the limits set by soil type and climate. Key aspects of ‘healthy’ soil include the following:
- A comprehensive soil cover of vegetation.
- Soil carbon levels close to the limits set by soil type and climate.
- Minimal loss of soil nutrients from the soil through leaching.
- Zero or minimal rates of rainfall run-off and soil erosion.
- No accumulation of contaminants in the soil.
- Agriculture, which does not rely excessively on fossil energy through inorganic fertilizers.
In many regions of the world, soil health is severely threatened by human and livestock population increases. This has resulted in the intensification of soil cultivation in existing high potential areas, the expansion of farming into forests and marginal environments with fragile soils, and the over stocking and overgrazing of natural pastures. Combined with the constraints that small-scale farmers face with regard to the availability and cost of organic and inorganic nutrient inputs, these factors have resulted in the wide scale decline of soil health and, hence, productivity in those regions.
Contribution to CSA
Improved soil management aims to enhance soil health and contributes to CSA from several important perspectives:
- Productivity: All interventions that improve soil fertility, soil water availability and reduce the loss of nutrient-rich topsoil through erosion, will straightforwardly improve productivity.
- Adaptation: In many parts of the world, intense rainfall events are already a common occurrence and result in a high risk of rainfall run-off and soil erosion, especially on sloping land. Climate change projections suggest that the frequency and severity of such events are very likely to increase. There is a wide range of soil management interventions, which help reduce the risk of run-off and soil erosion, ranging from field or farm level interventions such as contour ploughing or contour tillage with tied ridges, micro-catchments and surface mulching, to landscape level approaches such as land terracing, contour stone bunds or reforestation.
- Mitigation: Soil management can help mitigate climate change as well through a range of interventions (Smith et al. 2007). 1 Soils are an important below ground ‘sink’ for carbon sequestration, and soil management interventions can help to harness this characteristic. For example, the organic matter additions recommended in Conservation Agriculture (Richards et al. 2014, 2 and see case study below), the inclusion of trees in crop fields, and the improved grazing management of natural pastures are all practices that help to increase the sequestration of carbon. The emission of the greenhouse gas (GHG) nitrous oxide from inorganic fertilizer use can also be reduced through integrated approaches to the management of nitrogen fertilizer. For example, Integrated Soil Fertility Management (Fairhurst 2012; 3 Roobroeck et al. 2015. 4 See also case study below.) advocates reduced amounts and more strategically placed inorganic nitrogen fertilizer. Rice lowlands with submergence are known to maintain much higher soil C then lowlands which go through wetting and drying cycles used in rice-wheat cultivation or uplands with maize-wheat rotations (Ladha et al. 2011). 5
Bronick CJ, Lal R. 2005. Soil structure and management: A review. Geoderma 124:3-22.
This article provides a thorough technical explanation of the key role that soil structure plays in the functioning of soil, and in turn supporting animal and plant life, while providing potential for soil carbon sequestration. Furthermore, Bronick and Lal (2005) explore the environmental impacts of soil structure, including uncertainties relating to the impact of high CO2 on soil, and the contributions of enhancing soil organic carbon. Several management options are accounted for, which provide increases in primary plant production and carbon input into the soil, while avoiding carbon loss through decomposition and erosion. Key soil management options explored in this article include reduced or no-tillage, mulching and residue management, compost, and nutrient management. In addition, crop management practices such as the use of cover crops and agroforestry can provide aggregate carbon sequestration benefits.
FAO. 2013. Climate-Smart Agriculture: Sourcebook. Module 4: Soils and their management for Climate-smart agriculture. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pp. 105-138.
This module looks at soil management in the context of climate change. It begins with an overview of some of the principles of soil health and the way soils interact with the atmosphere and with terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. Sustainable soil management options are presented as “win-win-win” strategies that sequester carbon in the soil, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help intensify production, all while enhancing the natural resource base. The module also describes practices that contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, and build the resilience of agricultural ecosystems.
Corsi S, Friedrich T, Kassam A, Pisante M, de Moaraes Sà J. 2012. Soil organic carbon accumulation and greenhouse gas emission reductions from conservation agriculture: a literature review. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
This publication presents a meta-analysis of global scientific literature with the aim to develop a clear understanding of the impacts and benefits of the two most common types of agriculture, traditional tillage agriculture and Conservation Agriculture with respect to their effects on soil carbon pools. The study conducted by the Plant production and Protection Division in collaboration with experts from several universities attempts to reduce the existing uncertainty about the impact of soil management practices on soil carbon pools and on carbon budget.
Powlson DS, Gregory PJ, Whalley WR, Quinton JN, Hopkins DW, Whitmore AP, Hirsch PR, Goulding KWT. 2011. Soil management in relation to sustainable agriculture and ecosystem services. Food Policy 36:S72-S87.
Powlson et al. (2011) provides a useful review of soil management practices for sustainable agriculture and enhancing ecosystem services, emphasizing putting research into action through policies and practices. Specific benefits provided by soil, for both food production and wider social and ecosystem functions, are provided. However, tradeoffs exist between the functions of soil for agricultural production and providing ecosystem services. The article reviews relevant literature to highlight some of the main issues at play. The pros, cons and topics for research and action in soil management include: managing soil carbon, optimizing soil conditions for crop growth, nutrient management, optimizing soil biological processes, soil-root interactions, minimizing erosion, and the use of biochar. The article also considers social, economic and governance aspects, and argues that not all management practices will be applicable in all regions or scales; some may be more suited to prosperous farmers with access to infrastructure, while others may provide significant livelihood benefits for smallholders. Collaboration and effective communication between researchers in different fields, policy makers at different scales, and the practitioners themselves is seen as a challenge that needs to be overcome to address food security, and properly assess the environmental impacts of agriculture.
CCAFS Big Facts website
Direct agricultural emissions from soils:
Smith P et al. 2008. Greenhouse gas mitigation in agriculture. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 363:789-813.http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2007.2184 Agricultural lands occupy 37% of the earth's land surface. Agriculture accounts for 52 and 84% of global anthropogenic methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Agricultural soils may also act as a sink or source for CO2, but the net flux is small. Many agricultural practices can potentially mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the most prominent of which are improved cropland and grazing land management and restoration of degraded lands and cultivated organic soils. Lower, but still significant mitigation potential is provided by water and rice management, set-aside, land use change and agroforestry, livestock management and manure management. The global technical mitigation potential from agriculture (excluding fossil fuel offsets from biomass) by 2030, considering all gases, is estimated to be approximately 5500–6000 Mt CO2-eq. yr−1, with economic potentials of approximately 1500–1600, 2500–2700 and 4000–4300 Mt CO2-eq. yr−1 at carbon prices of up to 20, up to 50 and up to 100 US$ t CO2-eq.−1, respectively. In addition, GHG emissions could be reduced by substitution of fossil fuels for energy production by agricultural feedstocks (e.g. crop residues, dung and dedicated energy crops). The economic mitigation potential of biomass energy from agriculture is estimated to be 640, 2240 and 16 000 Mt CO2-eq. yr−1 at 0–20, 0–50 and 0–100 US$ t CO2-eq.−1, respectively.
Richards M, Sapkota T, Stirling C, Thierfelder C, Verhulst N, Friedrich T, Kienzle J. 2014. Conservation agriculture: Implementation guidance for policymakers and investors. Climate-Smart Agriculture Practice Brief. Copenhagen, Denmark: CCAFS.https://cgspace.cgiar.org/rest/bitstreams/34456/retrieve Conservation agriculture (CA) can increase resilience to climate change and has the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation. The benefits of CA are highly site- specific. Innovative approaches are needed to overcome barriers for uptake of CA by smallholders.
Fairhurst T, (Ed.). 2012. Handbook for Integrated Soil Fertility Management. Pondicherry, India: Africa Soil Health Consortium.http://www.tropcropconsult.com/downloads_files/Fairhurst2012.pdf This book is meant for training of extension workers in soil fertility management techniques in SSA and for workers involved in rural development that would like to learn more about the principles and practices of ISFM. This handbook is also a useful primer on ISFM for education organizations such as universities and technical colleges, organizations involved in the development of policy on agriculture and rural development that need reference materials on ISFM techniques, and other government and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) seeking to implement ISFM.
Roobroeck D, van Asten P, Jama B, Harawa R, Vanlauwe B. 2015. Integrated Soil Fertility Management: Contributions of framework and practices to climate-smart agriculture. Copenhagen, Denmark: CCAFS.https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/69018/CCAFSpbSoil.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) is a set of practices related to cropping, fertilizers, organic resources and other amendments on smallholder farms to increase production and input use efficiency. ISFM delivers productivity gains, increased resilience, and mitigation benefits. ISFM benefits food security and incomes enhances yield stability in rainfed systems, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from soils and fertilizers making it of value to climate-smart agriculture.
Ladha JK, Reddy CK, Padre AT, Kessel CV. 2011. Role of Nitrogen Fertilization in Sustaining Organic Matter in Cultivated Soils. Journal of Environmental Quality. 40, 1756-1766.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22031558
Soil organic matter (SOM) is essential for sustaining food production and maintaining ecosystem services and is a vital resource base for storing C and N. The impact of long-term use of synthetic fertilizer N on SOM, however, has been questioned recently. Here we tested the hypothesis that long-term application of N results in a decrease in SOM. We used data from 135 studies of 114 long-term experiments located at 100 sites throughout the world over time scales of decades under a range of land-management and climate regimes to quantify changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil organic nitrogen (SON). Published data of a total of 917 and 580 observations for SOC and SON, respectively, from control (unfertilized or zero N) and N-fertilized treatments (synthetic, organic, and combination) were analyzed using the SAS mixed model and by meta-analysis. Results demonstrate declines of 7 to 16% in SOC and 7 to 11% in SON with no N amendments. In soils receiving synthetic fertilizer N, the rate of SOM loss decreased. The time-fertilizer response ratio, which is based on changes in the paired comparisons, showed average increases of 8 and 12% for SOC and SON, respectively, following the application of synthetic fertilizer N. Addition of organic matter (i.e., manure) increased SOM, on average, by 37%. When cropping systems fluctuated between flooding and drying, SOM decreased more than in continuous dryland or flooded systems. Flooded rice ( L.) soils show net accumulations of SOC and SON. This work shows a general decline in SOM for all long-term sites, with and without synthetic fertilizer N. However, our analysis also demonstrates that in addition to its role in improving crop productivity, synthetic fertilizer N significantly reduces the rate at which SOM is declining in agricultural soils, worldwide.
Crop production for food, fibre and animal feed is practised within a very diverse range of farming systems. Each is subject to widely differing socio-economic, climatic and soil conditions. For example, some are rain-fed while others are irrigated. Increasing attention is now being given to the wide range of crop production practices that can be considered as ‘climate-smart’ either from an adaptation perspective, or for their mitigation potential. These climate-smart opportunities can be found through a range of different entry points: from soil and water management to agroforestry practices. In this section, the focus will be on how ‘crop specific’ innovations can substantially contribute to climate-smart agriculture (CSA).
Contribution to CSA
- Productivity: Crop productivity can be increased through the breeding of higher yielding crop varieties, though crop and crop nutrient management, and through the choice of crop species that have higher yield potentials under given environmental conditions.
- Short-term adaptation through climate risk management: Some crop interventions can substantially reduce the risk of yield reduction or crop failure. For example, crops can be bred for greater drought tolerance and shorter-duration varieties can both be used for ‘terminal drought escape’ (see CIMMYT and IITA 2015, 6Case study 2 and Case study 3). Similarly, breeding for resistance to the pests and diseases that are triggered by weather events provides another important source of climate risk reduction. Plant breeding for drought, pest and disease resistance becomes more important since the risk of drought is projected to increase in many regions and the distribution and severity of pest and disease outbreaks will also change as climates change (FAO 2008). 7
- Longer-term adaptation through change: As the world continues to warm, longer-term adaptation will become necessary. This can be achieved through development and planting of heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant or salinity-tolerant crop varieties, or by switching to crops that have higher tolerance to temperatures and the greater risk of drought. For example, cereals like millets and sorghum are the hardiest crops for harsh, hot and dry environments (ICRISAT 2014). 8 Farmers who currently grow maize may have to switch to these alternative cereals in the future (ICRISAT 2015). 9 Another adaptation strategy is the substitution of potentially vulnerable annual crops with more hardy perennials (see Case study 1). Furthermore, in regions which are already marginal for crop production, farmers may well have to adapt more radically by abandoning cropping for livestock production (Jones and Thornton 2008). 10
- Mitigation: The mitigation potential of crop production largely stems from soil and water management, or the agroforestry system under which crops are grown (see entry points 1, 4 and 6). However, perennial crops are able to sequester greater amounts of carbon below ground than annual crops (Glover et al. 2007). 11
Rosegrant MW, Koo J, Cenacchi N, Ringler C, Robertson R, Fisher M, Cox C, Garrett K, Perez N, Sabbagh P. 2014. Food Security in a World of Natural Resource Scarcity: The Role of Agricultural Technologies. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
This book endeavors to respond to the challenge of growing food sustainably without degrading our natural resource base. The analysis makes use of modeling approaches that combine comprehensive process-based modeling of agricultural technologies with sophisticated global food demand, supply, and trade modeling. This approach assesses the yield and food impact through 2050 of a broad range of agricultural technologies under varying assumptions of climate change for the three key staple crops: maize, rice, and wheat. Geared toward policymakers in ministries of agriculture and national agricultural research institutes, as well as multilateral development banks and the private sector, the book provides guidance on various technology strategies and which to pursue as competition grows for land, water, and energy across productive sectors and even increasingly across borders. It can be also used as an important tool for targeting investment decisions today and going forward.
FAO. 2013. Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook. Module 6: Conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pp. 171-190.
This module describes the nature of genetic resources for food and agriculture and outlines why these resources are essential for climate-smart agriculture. After a brief description of the expected impacts of climate change on genetic resources for food and agriculture, the module highlights their role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Examples from around the world are used to demonstrate how the conservation and use of the rich genetic diversity of plants and animals both between and within species used for food and agriculture can benefit present and future generations.
FAO. 2013. Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook. Module 7: Climate-smart crop production system. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pp. 191-204.
The first part of this module outlines the impacts of climate change on crop production. The second part describes the sustainable crop production intensification (SCPI) paradigm and illustrates how sustainable agriculture is inherently “climate-smart.” In describing the underlying principles of SCPI, the module draws heavily on the FAO publication Save and Grow. Save and Grow — a rich source of information, case studies and technical references — was produced following an Expert Consultation held in 2010: it is a guide and toolkit of sustainable technologies and practices, but also explores the policies and institutional arrangements for the large-scale implementation of SCPI. The module also describes options for land managers and farmers to adapt, and contribute to the mitigation of climate change. Text boxes provide examples of sustainable crop production practices, techniques and approaches for climate change adaption and mitigation.
Snyder CS, Bruulsema TW, Jensen TL, Fixen PE. 2009. Review of greenhouse gas emissions from crop production systems and fertilizer management effects. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 133:247-266.
This article conducts a literature review of best practices for crop and fertilizer management, in terms of their potential for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. An overview of various agricultural greenhouse gas sources and sinks is provided as well. The investigated practices include different tillage systems, tile drainage, cropping systems, and the use of organic and inorganic fertilizers (including production and transportation). Proper management of fertilizers is key, in order to optimize yields while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions; this allows farmers to make the most of existing agricultural land, while reducing the need for conversion of further natural areas. Factors which influence the effectiveness of fertilizer use include their source, timing, rate, and placement. To meet the dual demand of food security and greenhouse gas mitigation, the article recommends ecologically intensive crop management, focused on enhancing nutrient use efficiency and yield gains. Using best management practices on high-yielding crops can contribute to mitigation through better soil carbon storage.
Lin BB. 2011. Resilience in agriculture through crop diversification: Adaptive management for environmental change. BioScience 61(3):183-193.
Lin (2011) proposes crop diversification as a cost-effective method for improving the resilience of agricultural systems. Climate change will have diverse impacts on agricultural production, including greater climate variability and shifting weather patterns, which will in turn have consequences in agricultural productivity due to changes in the nutrient cycling, and more frequent pest and disease outbreaks. Lin (2011) argues that increased biodiversity will increase the resilience of agroecosystems to these climate-induced challenges, while providing a more effective delivery of ecosystem services. Diversification can take shape in a variety of forms (e.g. using different varieties) across different scales (e.g. within crop, across landscapes), meaning that many different diversification solutions are available to farmers. Lin (2011) argues that practices such as utilizing heterogeneous varieties, can increase pest and disease resistance, while agroforestry and intercropping can buffer crops from large changes in temperature and precipitation. However, uptake of these practices has been slow due to policy incentives that incentivize mono-cropping. The article argues that economic benefits of diversification strategies must be pinpointed, and put into action by policy incentives and stakeholder-based participatory approaches that suit the needs of farmers.
Kole C. et al. 2015. Application of genomics-assisted breeding for generation of climate resilient crops: progress and prospects. Front Plant Sci. 6:563.
Climate change affects agricultural productivity worldwide. Increased prices of food commodities are the initial indication of drastic edible yield loss, which is expected to increase further due to global warming. This situation has compelled plant scientists to develop climate change-resilient crops, which can withstand broad-spectrum stresses such as drought, heat, cold, salinity, flood, submergence and pests, thus helping to deliver increased productivity. Genomics appears to be a promising tool for deciphering the stress responsiveness of crop species with adaptation traits or in wild relatives toward identifying underlying genes, alleles or quantitative trait loci. Molecular breeding approaches have proven helpful in enhancing the stress adaptation of crop plants, and recent advances in high-throughput sequencing and phenotyping platforms have transformed molecular breeding to genomics-assisted breeding (GAB). In view of this, the present review elaborates the progress and prospects of GAB for improving climate change resilience in crops, which is likely to play an ever increasing role in the effort to ensure global food security.
Wassmann R, Jagadish SVK, Heuer S, G, Ismail, Redoña E, Serraj R, Singh RK, Howell A, Pathak H, Sumfleth K. 2009. Climate Change Affecting Rice Production: The Physiological and Agronomic Basis for Possible Adaptation Strategies. Advances in Agronomy 101: 59-122.
This review addresses possible adaptation strategies in rice production to abiotic stresses that will aggravate under climate change: heat (high temperature and humidity), drought, salinity, and submergence. Each stress is discussed regarding the current state of knowledge on damage mechanism for rice plants as well as possible developments in germplasm and crop management technologies to overcome production losses. Higher temperatures can adversely affect rice yields through two principal pathways, namely (i) high maximum temperatures that cause—in combination with high humidity—spikelet sterility and adversely affect grain quality and (ii) increased nighttime temperatures that may reduce assimilate accumulation. On the other hand, some rice cultivars are grown in extremely hot environments, so that the development of rice germplasm with improved heat resistance can capture an enormous genetic pool for this trait. Likewise, drought is a common phenomenon in many rice growing environments, and agriculture research has achieved considerable progress in terms of germplasm improvement and crop management (i.e., water saving techniques) to cope with the complexity of the drought syndrome. Rice is highly sensitive to salinity. Salinity often coincides with other stresses in rice production, namely drought in inland areas or submergence in coastal areas. Submergence tolerance of rice plants has substantially been improved by introgressing the Sub1 gene into popular rice cultivars in many Asian rice growing areas.
Wassmann R, Jagadish SVK, Sumfleth K, Pathak H, Howell G, Ismail A, Serraj R, Redoña E, Singh RK and Heuer S. 2009. Regional vulnerability of climate change impacts on Asian rice production and scope for adaptation. Advances in Agronomy 102: 91-133.
Rice is the principle staple crop of Asia and any deterioration of rice production systems through climate change would seriously impair food security in this continent. This review assesses spatial and temporal vulnerabilities of different rice production systems to climate change impacts in Asia. Initially, the review discusses the risks of increasing heat stress and maps the regions where current temperatures are already approaching critical levels during the susceptible stages of the rice plant, namely Pakistan/north India (Oct.), south India (April, Aug.), east India/Bangladesh (March-June), Myanmar/Thailand/Laos/Cambodia (March-June), Vietnam (April/Aug.), Philippines (April/June), Indonesia (Aug.) and China (July/Aug.). Possible adaptation options for heat stress are derived from regions where the rice crop is already exposed to very high temperatures including Iran and Australia. Drought stress is also expected to aggravate through climate change; a map superimposing the distribution of rainfed rice and precipitation anomalies in Asia highlights especially vulnerable areas in east India/Bangladesh and Myanmar/Thailand.
Paris TR, Manzanilla D, Tatlonghari G, Labios R, Cueno A, Villanueva D (2011) Guide to participatory varietal selection for submergence-tolerant rice. Los Baños (Philippines): International Rice Research Institute
Participatory varietal selection (PVS) is a simple way for breeders and agronomists to learn which varieties perform well on-station and on-farm and to obtain feedback from the potential end users in the early phases of the breeding cycle. It is a means for social scientists to identify the varieties that most men and women farmers prefer, including the reasons for their preference and constraints to adoption. Based on IRRI’s experience in collaboration with national agricultural research and extension system partners and farmers, PVS, which includes “researcher-managed” and “farmer-managed” trials, is an effective strategy for accelerating the dissemination of stress-tolerant varieties. PVS has also been instrumental in the fast release of stress-tolerant varieties through the formal varietal release system. This guide on PVS will complement the various training programs given by IRRI for plant breeders, agronomists, and extension workers engaged in rice varietal development and dissemination.
CCAFS Big Facts website
Crops and farming systems:
Adaptation of crops and farming systems:
Evidence of success for crops and farming systems:
CIMMYT, IITA. 2015. The Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa Initiative (DTMA).http://dtma.cimmyt.org/index.php This CIMMYT-IITA website covers the latest stories and developments concerning the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa Initiative.
FAO. 2008. Climate related transboundary pests and diseases. Technical Background Document for the Expert Consultation held on 25 to 27 February 2008. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.http://www.fao.org/3/a-ai785e.pdf The movement of plant pests, animal diseases and invasive alien aquatic organisms across physical and political boundaries threatens food security and creates a global public concern across all countries and all regions. Countries allocate large resources to limit the spread and control of transboundary pests and diseases1 such as avian influenza, foot-and-mouth disease and locust. They also adapt animal and plant health services and activities and cooperate regionally and globally for prevention, early warning and control.
ICRISAT. 2014. Millets and sorghum: Climate-smart grains for a warmer world. CGIAR Development Dialogues 2014. Montpellier, France: CGIARhttp://dialogues.cgiar.org/blog/millets-sorghum-climate-smart-grains-warmer-world/ This ICRISAT blog post explains how and why millets and sorghums can be a sustainable food source, capable of helping fight poverty and food insecurity.
ICRISAT. 2015. Go for sorghum, say climate smart Kenyan farmers. ICRISAT Happenings In-house Newsletter no. 1660. Telangana, India: ICRISAT.http://www.icrisat.org/newsroom/latest-news/happenings/1660/1660.pdf This ICRISAT news story gives an account of the benefits of sorghum for climate resilience and food security.
Jones PG, Thornton PK. 2008. Croppers to livestock keepers: livelihood transitions to 2050 in Africa due to climate change. Environmental Science and Policy 12(4):427-437.http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016/j.envsci.2008.08.006 The impacts of climate change are expected to be generally detrimental for agriculture in many parts of Africa. Overall, warming and drying may reduce crop yields by 10–20% to 2050, but there are places where losses are likely to be much more severe. Increasing frequencies of heat stress, drought and flooding events will result in yet further deleterious effects on crop and livestock productivity. There will be places in the coming decades where the livelihood strategies of rural people may need to change, to preserve food security and provide income-generating options. These are likely to include areas of Africa that are already marginal for crop production; as these become increasingly marginal, then livestock may provide an alternative to cropping. We carried out some analysis to identify areas in sub-Saharan Africa where such transitions might occur. For the currently cropped areas (which already include the highland areas where cropping intensity may increase in the future), we estimated probabilities of failed seasons for current climate conditions, and compared these with estimates obtained for future climate conditions in 2050, using downscaled climate model output for a higher and a lower greenhouse-gas emission scenario. Transition zones can be identified where the increased probabilities of failed seasons may induce shifts from cropping to increased dependence on livestock. These zones are characterised in terms of existing agricultural system, current livestock densities, and levels of poverty. The analysis provides further evidence that climate change impacts in the marginal cropping lands may be severe, where poverty rates are already high. Results also suggest that those likely to be more affected are already more poor, on average. We discuss the implications of these results in a research-for-development targeting context that is likely to see the poor disproportionately and negatively affected by climate change.
Glover JD, Cox CM, Reganold JP. 2007. Future Farming: A Return to the Roots? Scientific American August 2007:83-89.https://landinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Glover-et-al-2007-Sci-Am.pdf Modern agriculture’s intensive land use quashes natural biodiversity and ecosystems. Meanwhile the population will balloon to between eight billion and 10 billion in the coming decades, requiring that more acres be cultivated. Replacing single-season crops with perennials would create large root systems capable of preserving the soil and would allow cultivation in areas currently considered marginal. The challenge is monumental, but if plant scientists succeed, the achievement would rival humanity’s original domestication of food crops over the past 10 millennia—and be just as revolutionary.
Agriculture is the largest consumer of the world's freshwater resources, requiring 70% of available supply of which almost 40% are used for rice production (Bouman et al. 2007). 12 As the world's population rises and consumes more food and industries and urban development expands, water scarcity is becoming an increasingly important issue; improved water management systems are a must. Given the fundamental role of water in agriculture, the scope of water management is both wide-ranging and complex, a complexity that is partially reflected in the seven research themes of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) (IWMI 2015). 13 Due to this complexity, many options for improved water management relate to other entry points (see example in Soil management,Crop production,Livestock management,Forestry and agroforestry,Capture fisheries and aquaculture, Climate information services,Policy engagement and Landscape management). In this section, the focus will be on improved water management in rainfed and irrigated agricultural systems that across different scales, including (i) farm level, (ii) irrigation systems or catchment level, and (iii) national or river basin level.
Under rainfed agriculture, improved water management can be achieved through water harvesting, soil management practices that result in the capture and retention of rainfall and through soil fertility and crop management innovations that enhance crop growth and yield and hence water use efficiency (see the entry point on Soil management), or through supplemental irrigation of dry-land crops (see Case study 2 below).
In irrigated systems, improved water management for greater water use efficiency is achievable at many stages in the process of irrigation, from the source of the water, through conveyance and application systems, scheduling and the availability of water in the root zone of the plant. Nicol et al. (2015) 14 describe many such examples drawn from East Africa, Tuong et al. (2005) 15 focus on rice-based systems in Asia.
Contribution to CSA
- Productivity: In the absence of other limitations to crop growth, all innovations which aim to reduce crop water stress through the improved capture and retention of rainfall or the improved scheduling and application of irrigation water will boost crop productivity.
- Adaptation through short-term risk management: Many water management innovations (e.g. supplemental irrigation and rainfall capture) are specifically designed to reduce or eliminate the risk of crop water stress and yield reduction.
- Adaptation through longer term risk management: The implications of climate change for water management are context specific. However, in many regions, it will likely include increased water demand and reduced water availability. Under such scenarios, especially where human populations are projected to increase substantially, all innovations which increase water availability or target reduced water use through greater water use efficiency in rainfed agriculture or irrigations systems are an important longer-term adaptation mechanism.
- Mitigation: Flooded rice systems emit substantial amounts of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane (CH4). Alternate wetting and drying cycles in such systems not only save water, but also result in greatly reduced methane emissions (see Case study 1 below) (Sander et al. 2016). 16 In addition, irrigation strategies that reduce the amount of water required can reduce energy consumption for pumping, thereby reducing emissions (Lampayan et al. 2015). 17
FAO. 2013. Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook. Module 3: Water Management. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pp. 81-97.
This module examines the overall development context in which water is managed in agriculture and provides an overview of the current status, trends and challenges. It also reviews the current state of knowledge of the impact of climate change on water for agriculture and the vulnerability of rural populations and farming systems to climate change. This is followed by an examination of possible response options for addressing these impacts. These options can be applied at various scales, on individual farms, in larger irrigation schemes, throughout entire river basins and at the national level. The module also presents criteria for prioritizing response options, examines conditions for climate change adaptation and reviews opportunities for climate change mitigation.
Turral H, Burke , Faurès JM. 2011. Climate change, water and food security. FAO Water Report No. 36. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
This report summarizes current knowledge of the anticipated impacts of climate change on water availability for agriculture. The implications for local and national food security are examined; and the methods and approaches to assess climate change impacts on water and agriculture are discussed. The report emphasizes the need for a closer alignment between water and agricultural policies and makes the case for immediate implementation of ‘no-regrets’ strategies which have both positive development outcomes and make agricultural systems resilient to future impacts.
Bates BC, Kundzewicz ZW, Wu S, Palutikof JP, (Eds.). 2008: Climate Change and Water. Technical Paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva, Switzerland: IPCC Secretariat.
The Technical Paper addresses the issue of freshwater. Sea-level rise is dealt with only insofar as it can lead to impacts on freshwater in coastal areas and beyond. Climate, freshwater, biophysical and socio-economic systems are interconnected in complex ways. Hence, a change in any one of these can induce a change in any other. Freshwater-related issues are critical in determining key regional and sectoral vulnerabilities. Therefore, the relationship between climate change and freshwater resources is of primary concern to human society and also has implications for all living species. The paper analyzes observed and projected changes in climate as they relate to water, both on impacts as well as potential responses. It further covers climate change and water resources in different systems and sectors, as well in regions. Additionally, it examines climate change mitigation measures in relation to water. Finally, it presents relevant implications for policy and sustainable development, as well as it discusses applicable gaps in knowledge.
Hoanh, C.T., Smakhtin, V., Johnston, T. (Eds.) 2016: Climate change and agricultural water management in developing countries. CABI Climate Change Series, Colombo, Sri Lanka
The book provides an analysis of impacts of climate change on water for agriculture, and the adaptation strategies in water management to deal with these impacts. Chapters include an assessment at global level, with details on impacts in various countries. Adaptation measures including groundwater management, water storage, small and large scale irrigation to support agriculture and aquaculture are presented. Agricultural implications of sea level rise, as a subsequent impact of climate change, are also examined.
Video: Alternate wetting and drying (AWD)--using less water to grow rice
Across the globe, water is fast becoming a precious commodity as more and more people use it for the household, industry, and agriculture. Since almost half of the worlds population depends on rice as its staple food, rice uses the highest amount of water in agriculture. By 2025, 15 to 20 million hectares of irrigated rice fields may suffer from water scarcity. To face this challenge, scientists at the International Rice Research Institute have developed a technique called alternate wetting and drying or AWD, which uses less water to grow rice. This video provides a glimpse on how to apply AWD in irrigated rice fields.
Video: Climate-friendly rice farming in the Philippines | Global Ideas
For more than 3 billion people around the world - 50 percent of the global population - rice is a staple of the daily diet. But not only are rice harvests highly vulnerable to climate change, rice farming is a huge source of methane emissions. Scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines are striving to ensure that rice production is sustainable and stable, has minimal negative environmental impact, and can cope with climate change. The future for populations in many parts of the world relies on the success of their research.
CCAFS Big Facts website
Bouman BAM, Lampayan RM, Tuong TP. 2007. Water management in irrigated rice: coping with water scarcity. Los Banos (Philippines): International Rice Research Institute.http://books.irri.org/9789712202193_content.pdfWorldwide, about 79 million ha of irrigated lowlands provide 75% of the total rice production. Lowland rice is traditionally grown in bunded fields that are continuously flooded from crop establishment to close to harvest. It is estimated that irrigated lowland rice receives some 34–43% of the total world’s irrigation water, or 24–30% of the total world’s freshwater withdrawals. With increasing water scarcity, the sustainability, food production, and ecosystem services of rice fields are threatened. Therefore, there is a need to develop and disseminate water management practices that can help farmers to cope with water scarcity in irrigated environments. This manual provides an overview of technical response options to water scarcity. It focuses on what individual farmers can do at the field level, with a brief discussion on response options at the irrigation system level. The manual is meant as a support document for training on water management in rice production. It combines scientific background information (with many literature references for further reading) with practical suggestions for implementation. The target audience is people involved in agricultural extension or training with an advanced education in agriculture or water management, who wish to introduce sound water management practices to rice farmers (such as staff of agricultural colleges and universities, scientists, irrigation operators, and extension officers). Introductory chapters analyze the water use and water balance of rice fields, and water movement in the plant-soil system, and discuss the concepts of water scarcity and water savings. Consequences of water scarcity for sustainability, environmental impacts, and ecosystem services of irrigated rice fields are discussed at the end. An appendix introduces two simple instruments to characterize the water status of rice fields that can help farmers in applying water-saving technologies. This manual was developed through the Water Work Group of the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (which is co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation). The sections on aerobic rice were co-developed by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food through the project “Developing a System of Temperate and Tropical Aerobic Rice in Asia (STAR).” Many partners from national agricultural research and extension systems in Asia have contributed to the work described in this manual. The manual was reviewed by Dr. Ian Willet (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) and Dr. Mohsin Hafeez (CSIRO Land and Water).
IWMI. 2015b. Research Themes.http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/research/research-themes/ This website provides access to IWMI's main research themes: ecosystem services; governance, gender and poverty; Resource recovery, water quality, and health; revitalized irrigation systems; sustainable agricultural water management; and water availability risk and resilience.
Nicol A, Langan S, Victor M, Gonsalves J, (Eds.). 2015. Water-smart agriculture in East Africa. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI).http://dx.doi.org/10.5337/2015.203 As a set of theoretical and practical approaches broadly nested under the term ‘water-smart agriculture’ (WaSA), this sourcebook complements materials on climate-smart agriculture but addresses the specific challenges and uncertainties surrounding water availability, access, and use, particularly within systems reliant on rainfall. In that sense it presents WaSA as a subset of CSA—and in some ways a more practical and tangible starting point to implementation. Many of the challenges facing farmers to adapt and increase resilience to a changing climate within landscapes either directly or indirectly are water-related, from capturing and storing uncertain rainfall and managing declining aquifers to supporting better soil moisture retention and crop use efficiency.
Tuong, TP, Bouman, BAS, Mortimer, M. 2005. More Rice, Less Water – Integrated Approaches for Increasing Water Productivity in Irrigated Rice-Based Systems in Asia, Plant Prod. Sci. 8(3), 231-241.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1626/pps.8.231The water crisis is threatening the sustainability of the irrigated rice system and food security in Asia. Our challenge is to develop novel technologies and production systems that allow rice production to be maintained or increased in the face of declining water availability. This paper introduces principles that govern technologies and systems for reducing water inputs and increasing water productivity, and assesses the opportunities of such technologies and systems at spatial scale levels from plant to field, to irrigation system, and to agro-ecological zones. We concluded that, while increasing the productivity of irrigated rice with transpired water may require breakthroughs in breeding, many technologies can reduce water inputs at the field level and increase field-level water productivity with respect to irrigation and total water inputs. Most of them, however, come at the cost of decreased yield. More rice with less water can only be achieved when water management is integrated with (i) germplasm selection and other crop and resource management practices to increase yield and (ii) system-level management such that the water saved at the field level is used more effectively to irrigate previously un-irrigated or low- productivity lands. The amount of water that can be saved at the system level could be far less than assumed from computations of field-level water savings because there is already a high degree of recycling and conjunctive use of water in many rice areas. The impact of reducing water inputs for rice production on weeds, nutrients, sustainability, and environmental services of rice ecosystems warrants further investigation.
Sander, B.O., Wassmann, R., Siopongco, J.D.L.C. (2016). Water-saving techniques: potential, adoption and empirical evidence for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from rice production. CABI Climate Change Series, pp. 193-207https://www.researchgate.net/publication/306371960_Water-saving_techniques_potential_adoption_and_empirical_evidence_for_mitigating_greenhouse_gas_emissions_from_rice_production
Lampayan RM, Rejesus RM, Singleton GR, Bouman BAM. 2015. Adoption and economics of alternate wetting and drying water management for irrigated lowland rice. F Crop Res. 170: 95–108.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268751540_Adoption_and_economics_of_alternate_wetting_and_drying_water_management_for_irrigated_lowland_riceTo counteract the increasing unavailability of water for agriculture, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and its national agricultural research and extension system (NARES) partners have worked together to develop and promote the “alternate wetting and drying” (AWD) water management technology. In this paper, we review progress in the development and dissemination of AWD in several Asian countries, and provide evidence of its extent of adoption and economic impact. AWD involves the partial drainage of rice fields, which is done by irrigating the fields to the desired depth and then re-irrigating after some time, when the water dissipates. To guide proper implementation, a simple, very low cost, farmer-friendly tool – a perforated “field water tube” – was devised. Demonstration trials and training have been conducted in eight countries in Asia, with large scale adoption in the Philippines, Vietnam and Bangladesh. AWD has reduced irrigation water input by up to 38% with no yield reductions if implemented correctly. Water pumping expenses and fuel consumption decrease also, thus increasing farmers’ income—by 38% in Bangladesh, 32% in the Philippines, and 17% in southern Vietnam, based on “with and without” AWD comparison. The investment to develop and disseminate the AWD technology has a high rate of return, with benefit-cost ratio of 7:1. The evidence of economic benefits at the farm level when aggregated up more than compensates for the total research investments made to develop and disseminate the technology. Successful NARES partnerships and strong farmers’ groups were critical factors in the validation and dissemination of the technology. AWD has also been successfully integrated into national government programs, which also facilitated the widespread adoption of the technology in these countries.
In response to population growth, income increases and shifting consumption patterns, the livestock sector is growing rapidly throughout the developing world. However, climate change is likely to have considerable impacts on livestock production in the coming decades. These will include a substantial reduction in the quantity and quality of forage available in some regions and heat stress in animals. Higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent extreme weather events may also impact the spread and severity of existing vector-borne diseases and macro-parasites, accompanied by the emergence and circulation of new diseases. Fortunately, the sector offers a wide range of opportunities for enhancing resilience, while mitigating emissions and increasing productivity. These opportunities link to several other climate-smart agriculture (CSA) entry points, particularly those revolving around soil and water management, insurance and value chains.
Contribution to CSA
There are various ways in which improved or modified livestock management can contribute to CSA:
- Productivity: Interventions that target improved feed resources directly increase productivity. For cattle, examples include improved grazing management, the use of improved pasture and agroforestry species (see Case study 1), and the use of nutritious diet supplements. Similarly, interventions aimed at improving animal health, such as appropriate vaccination programs and the use of more disease-resistant animals, will also improve animal productivity. Other key measure for productivity include management of herd size and age structure. In non-grazing livestock systems, interventions aimed at increasing heat tolerance through breeding and reducing heat stress through effective animal cooling systems can increase productivity. Appropriate manure management can also lead to increased productivity of both food and fodder crops.
- Adaptation: In grazing systems, livestock insurance instruments and early warning systems can help pastoralists to manage climate related risks associated with extreme events (to learn more about livestock insurance, see the case studies under Energy management). In mixed crop-livestock systems, risk can sometimes be ameliorated via the addition and/or substitution of crop and livestock species and breeds that are more tolerant of heat or drought.
- Mitigation: There are many mitigation opportunities associated with feed interventions that increase productivity while decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced per kilogram of meat and milk. Improved grazing management can also increase carbon sequestration in soil, although there is some uncertainty associated with its mitigation potential. Emissions can also be reduced by compacting and covering farmyard manure, although opportunities in the developing world for such management are generally limited. In addition, appropriately timing the application of manure to crops can reduce nitrous oxide emissions. Other opportunities exist, such as the use of feed additives that modify the production of methane by ruminants, however, technical and other constraints to the uptake of such additives are likely to persist for the foreseeable future. Management of herd size and age structure are other key measures for reducing GHG emissions.
Thornton PK, Herrero M. 2015. Adapting to climate change in the mixed crop and livestock farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Nature Climate Change 5:830–836.
Mixed crop–livestock systems are the backbone of African agriculture, providing food security and livelihood options for hundreds of millions of people. Much is known about the impacts of climate change on the crop enterprises in the mixed systems, and some, although less, on the livestock enterprises. The interactions between crops and livestock can be managed to contribute to environmentally sustainable intensification, diversification and risk management. There is relatively little information on how these interactions may be affected by changes in climate and climate variability. This is a serious gap, because these interactions may offer some buffering capacity to help smallholders adapt to climate change. This article reviews the major advances on livestock and the environment in the past five to eight years. It provides a brief account of resource use by livestock (for land, biomass, nitrogen, and water), climate change adaptation, and mitigation challenges for the livestock sector. It also discusses options for reducing the environmental footprint of livestock and provides guidance for building a responsive research agenda on this topic for the coming years.
FAO. 2013. Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook. Module 8: Climate-smart Livestock. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pp. 211-227.
This module assesses the role of livestock in climate-smart agriculture (CSA). Adopting a farming system perspective, it highlights the main climate-smart strategies for the sector. The first section describes trends in the livestock sector and the contribution it makes to food security. The second section assesses the impact of climate change on livestock and identifies adaptation and mitigation needs. It also presents an overview of emissions caused by livestock. The module outlines the principles of climate-smart livestock, focusing on increased efficiency of resource use and building resilience. The last section gives insights into main strategies for achieving climate-smart livestock and covers land-based, mixed and landless systems.
Andeweg K, Reisinger A. 2014. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock: Best practice and emerging options. Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases and SAI Platform.
Livestock plays an important role in climate change. Livestock systems, including energy use and land-use change along the supply chain, accounted for an estimated 14.5% of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities in 2010. More than half of these (about 65%) are related to cattle. Direct emissions from livestock and feed production constitute some 80% of total agriculture emissions, and thus need to be part of any effort to reduce the contribution of food production to global climate change.
CCAFS Big Facts website
Direct agricultural emissions from livestock:
Evidence of success for livestock:
Forestry and agroforestry
Forestry and agroforestry plays an important role in global efforts to tackle climate change. Forests are home to nearly 60 million indigenous people (FAO 2013b), 18 and support a much bigger number by providing a variety of ecosystem services (food, fuel, water, carbon sequestration, biodiversity etc.). For example, the FAO estimates that 2.4 billion people cook using wood fuel, and that wood energy is a major source of primary energy in developing regions (FAO 2014c). 19 Climate change threatens the delivery of these ecosystem services, and can consequently impact rural livelihoods. Agriculture, forestry, and other land use sectors account for a quarter of global emissions. Forests and trees on farms are an important carbon sink and this potential can be increased through afforestation efforts. Deforestation is the major cause of emissions from the forestry sector, and agriculture remains the key driver of deforestation.
In smallholder systems in developing countries, farms and forests are often part of complex rural landscapes, which collectively fulfil the livelihood needs of the rural populace. This means that efforts of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) should adopt integrated approaches when developing interventions. Increasing the resilience of forest systems to maintain and enhance the flow of ecosystem services, mitigating emissions from the sector by reducing deforestation and increasing forest cover, and agroforestry are some of the possible interventions, but these need to be considered in the context of the wider landscape (Locatelli et al. 2015). 20 Ongoing efforts in Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) provide a sound foundation for actions in the sector, and climate-smart forestry will involve more widespread application of SFM principles (FAO 2013b). 18 Capacity building within local institutions and strengthening governance process will also be a priority within the sector (ibid). REDD+ (Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which is another more recent approach promoted to protect forests, still needs to go beyond incentives and payments structure to address agricultural drives of deforestation such as governance and institutional failure, low financial return of forest use and lack of local user rights and inadequate land tenure arrangements (Matthews et al. 2014, 21 Kissinger 2011). 22
Contribution to CSA
Actions in the forestry and agroforestry sectors can contribute to all three CSA pillars:
- Productivity: The production of ecosystem services, including provisioning services (food, fibre, fuel, etc.) can be improved by using a CSA approach. For example, by adopting agroforestry practices on farms, farmers are able to harvest tree products, supplement their diets, and also develop additional income streams. Integrating trees in farming systems can also improve soil quality, leading to higher and more stable crop yields. SFM, where, for example, local communities are given concessions to harvest timber and non-timber products, likewise adds to the productive portfolio of small-scale farmers.
- Adaptation: Healthy and diverse ecosystems are more resilient to natural hazards. Trees on farms can be used as shelterbelts and windbreaks, and play an important role in protecting against landslides, floods and avalanches. Trees also stabilize riverbanks and mitigate soil erosion. Agroforestry practices increase the absorptive capacity of soil and reduce evapotranspiration. The canopy cover from trees can also have direct benefits: reducing soil temperature for crops planted underneath, and reducing runoff velocity and soil erosion caused by heavy rainfall (De Leeuw et al. 2014). 23
- Mitigation: Actions that increase tree cover (afforestation, reforestation, and agroforestry) and reduce deforestation and degradation, increase carbon sequestration through increased biomass both above and below ground.
Chandrasekharan D, Labbate G, Verchot L. 2014. Forests and climate change. Background Brief. Global Landscapes Forum.
The paper offers a comprehensive brief of current topics and debates in forestry in the context of climate change. Topics covered include; Better management of agricultural lands, forests, and tree resources; Actions in both the agriculture and forestry sectors that can contribute to reducing emissions, and enhance resilience and reduce vulnerability of rural populations around the world; Land-use change for agriculture, including tropical deforestation; The contribution of forests to carbon sequestration and mitigation of emissions etc.
Mbow C, Neufeldt H, Minang PA, Luedeling E, Kowero G. 2014. Sustainability challenges. Special Issue. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 6:1-170.
This special issue consolidates and celebrates a generation of research on the Agroforestry, with a focus on Africa. Agroforestry has emerged as a system for study in an era where research in rural systems has moved beyond a purely agronomic focus to embrace a more comprehensive view of social–ecological system. Hence the scope of this issue is far more than production and ecology. It recognizes and explores examples of the intimate and interactive flow of influences between the human and environmental aspects of delivering livelihoods at both local and regional scales. Indeed, Africa faces major challenges of food, water and energy security, equity and poverty and environmental degradation. In the context of the livelihoods delivered by rural Africa to about 70% of its billion people, agroforestry can assist with all of these challenges.
FAO. 2013. Climate change guidelines for forest managers. FAO Forestry Paper No. 172. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
This document provides guidance on what forest managers should consider in assessing vulnerability, risk, mitigation options, and actions for adaptation, mitigation and monitoring in response to climate change. Recommended actions for climate change adaptation address impacts on: forest productivity; biodiversity; water availability and quality; fire; pests and diseases; extreme weather events; sea-level rise; and economic, social and institutional considerations. A range of mitigation actions is provided, along with guidance on the additional monitoring and evaluation that may be required in forests in the face of climate change.
CCAFS Big Facts website
Emissions from forestry and land use:
Forestry and land use:
Forests and landscapes:
FAO. 2013b. Climate change guidelines for forest managers. FAO Forestry Paper No. 172. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.http://www.fao.org/3/i3383e.pdf
This document provides guidance on what forest managers should consider in assessing vulnerability, risk, mitigation options, and actions for adaptation, mitigation and monitoring in response to climate change. Recommended actions for climate change adaptation address impacts on: forest productivity; biodiversity; water availability and quality; fire; pests and diseases; extreme weather events; sea-level rise; and economic, social and institutional considerations. A range of mitigation actions is provided, along with guidance on the additional monitoring and evaluation that may be required in forests in the face of climate change.
FAO. 2014c. State of the World’s Forests Enhancing the socioeconomic benefits from forests. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3710e.pdf
This edition of FAO’s State of the World’s Forests report (SOFO 2014) addresses a crucial knowledge gap by bringing together and analysing data about the socioeconomic benefits of forests that has not been systematically examined before. The first chapter of the report sets out its context and purpose. Chapter 2 describes what is known about the socioeconomic benefits from forests. Section 3 presents the data that was collected for SOFO 2014 and the results of the analysis showing how forests contribute to well-being. Chapter 4 describes the policies and measures that countries have used to support or enhance the production of these benefits. The concluding chapter synthesizes the results and presents recommendations about how the links between policies and benefits might be improved.
Locatelli, Pavageau C, Pramova E, Di Gregorio M. 2015. Integrating Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Agriculture and Forestry: Opportunities and Trade-offs. WIREs Climate Change 6(6):585-598.http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wcc.357 Although many activities can jointly contribute to the climate change strategies of adaptation and mitigation, climate policies have generally treated these strategies separately. In recent years, there has been a growing interest shown by practitioners in agriculture, forestry, and landscape management in the links between the two strategies. This review explores the opportunities and trade-offs when managing landscapes for both climate change mitigation and adaptation; different conceptualizations of the links between adaptation and mitigation are highlighted. Under a first conceptualization of ‘joint outcomes,’ several reviewed studies analyze how activities without climatic objectives deliver joint adaptation and mitigation outcomes. In a second conceptualization of ‘unintended side effects,’ the focus is on how activities aimed at only one climate objective—either adaptation or mitigation—can deliver outcomes for the other objective. A third conceptualization of ‘joint objectives’ highlights that associating both adaptation and mitigation objectives in a climate-related activity can influence its outcomes because of multiple possible interactions. The review reveals a diversity of reasons for mainstreaming adaptation and mitigation separately or jointly in landscape management. The three broad conceptualizations of the links between adaptation and mitigation suggest different implications for climate policy mainstreaming and integration.
Matthews RB et al. 2014. Implementing REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation): Evidence on Governance, Evaluation and Impacts from the REDD-Alert project. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6):907–925.http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11027-014-9578-z The REDD-ALERT (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation from Alternative Land Uses in the Rainforests of the Tropics) project started in 2009 and finished in 2012, and had the aim of evaluating mechanisms that translate international-level agreements into instruments that would help change the behaviour of land users while minimising adverse repercussions on their livelihoods. Findings showed that some developing tropical countries have recently been through a forest transition, thus shifting from declining to expanding forests at a national scale. However, in most of these (e.g. Vietnam), a significant part of the recent increase in national forest cover is associated with an increase in importation of food and timber products from abroad, representing leakage of carbon stocks across international borders. Avoiding deforestation and restoring forests will require a mixture of regulatory approaches, emerging market-based instruments, suasive options, and hybrid management measures. Policy analysis and modelling work showed the high degree of complexity at local levels and highlighted the need to take this heterogeneity into account—it is unlikely that there will be a one size fits all approach to make Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) work. Significant progress was made in the quantification of carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes following land-use change in the tropics, contributing to narrower confidence intervals on peat-based emissions and their reporting standards. There are indications that there is only a short and relatively small window of opportunity of making REDD+ work—these included the fact that forest-related emissions as a fraction of total global GHG emissions have been decreasing over time due to the increase in fossil fuel emissions, and that the cost efficiency of REDD+ may be much less than originally thought due to the need to factor in safeguard costs, transaction costs and monitoring costs. Nevertheless, REDD+ has raised global awareness of the world’s forests and the factors affecting them, and future developments should contribute to the emergence of new landscape-based approaches to protecting a wider range of ecosystem services.
Kissinger G. 2011. Linking forests and food production in the REDD+ context. CCAFS Policy Brief 3. Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).https://cgspace.cgiar.org/rest/bitstreams/15412/retrieve
This policy brief summarizes key findings from the report, “Linking forests and food production in the REDD+ context.” The report evaluated the extent to which countries participating in the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) readiness activities are actively linking REDD+ to agriculture policies and programmes and institutional and governance arrangements. The analysis is based on 20 current country REDD Readiness Preparation Proposals (R-PPs) submitted to the FCPF.
De Leeuw J, Njenga M, Wagner B, Iiyama M, (Eds.). 2014. Tree resilience: An assessment of the resilience provided by trees in the drylands of Eastern Africa. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF).http://www.worldagroforestry.org/downloads/Publications/PDFS/B17611.pdf This book is the result of a consultative process, which brought together experts from Eastern Africa and beyond to synthesize and compile existing information on the role of trees in building resilience in the region’s drylands. The group consisted of a mixture of experts with backgrounds in research, academia, government, farmers and development practitioners, and the book reflects the knowledge and perspectives of these various groups. The book begins by describing the rationale behind the initiative followed by a clarification on the background and approach taken. Chapter three then describes the Eastern African region and argues why there is a need to build resilience in the livelihoods of communities living in drylands. Chapter four builds on this by introducing an ecosystem services perspective as the conceptual framework to explore the resilience offered by trees. Chapter five reviews the ecology, distribution and use of trees throughout the Eastern African region. Chapter six uses an ecosystem service perspective to review the various benefits that people derive from dryland trees. Chapter seven draws on experiences gained in development practices and presents and reviews 11 case studies of natural resource management. Chapter eight presents reflections of the write-shop participants on how best practice in resilience-building could be scaled up. A review of knowledge and information gaps regarding the contribution of trees in building resilience is presented in chapter nine, which is followed by a plan for possible follow-up action in chapter ten.
Capture fisheries and aquaculture
Capture fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of 660 to 820 million people. Producing over 150 million tons of fish per year, 85 percent of which is used directly for food, the sector supplies protein and essential nutrition for 4.3 billion people around the world. Currently, the sector generates first-sale values of over USD 218 billion annually and fish products are among the world's most widely traded foods; more than 37% of output is traded internationally (FAO 2012c). 24 What's more, aquaculture is the world's fastest growing food production system, expanding at a rate of 7% per year, so these figures should be expected to increase in the future. However, current and projected climate change threatens both productivity and livelihood security of those depending on this sector.
- Coastal communities: Changes in ocean acidity and temperature are causing major disruptions in marine species’ biological cycles, migration patterns and food chains, leading to decreased fish populations and to global changes of fish locations. Another possible effect is the loss of biodiversity through the extinction of specialized or endemic fish species. In addition, more frequent and extreme weather events, combined with a slow onset sea level rise and increasing salinity, threatens fisheries and aquaculture installations along coastal shorelines (Ficke et al. 2007). 25
- Inland communities: Changing rainfall patterns and water scarcity is impacting on river and lake fisheries and aquaculture production. In addition, more erratic rainfall and extreme events are causing more frequent droughts and floods, modifying soil erosion and siltation processes, thus causing major negative changes in rivers and water bodies (FAO 2013a). 26
Contribution to CSA
- Productivity: All innovations that (i) enhance the management of coastal and inland fishery and aquaculture ecosystems and (ii) increase efficiency by sustainably intensifying production, using better integrated systems, improving stocks and reducing losses from disease, will increase productivity.
- Adaptation through climate risk management: A wide range of possible responses to climate-induced risk exists (see Tables 10.1 to 10.3, page 257 -262 in FAO 2013a). 26 Examples of adaptation practices in capture fisheries include accessing higher value markets to offset reduced yield, diversification of livelihoods to reduce the impact of yield variability, flexible capture strategies to allow for change in fish distribution, weather warning systems to reduce dangers of fishing and new physical or biological defenses to alleviate sea level change and storm surges. While aquaculture in itself is often seen as an adaptation strategy against the climate related risks impacting marine fisheries or farming, it requires adaptation to climate change as well. Examples include improved farm siting and weather forecasting to reduce the impact of increased extreme weather events, selective breeding and genetic improvements to counteract the impact of global warming and increased diseases, and short cycle production and water sharing systems for greater incidence of drought.
- Mitigation: Around 30% of annual emissions are sequestrated in aquatic environments, primarily in mangroves, sea grasses, floodplain forests and coastal sediments (known as ‘blue carbon’); hence it is important to halt the disruption of carbon sequestration caused by coastal habitat destruction (Nellemann et al 2009). 27 In addition, there are prospects for enhancing sequestration through expanding planted areas of mangroves and floodplain forests. Reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are also achievable by regulating the fuel use of fishing fleets through flexible quota allocations.
Barange M, Merino G, Blanchard JL, Scholtens J, Harle J, Allison EH, Allen JI, Holt J, Jennings S. Impacts of climate change on marine ecosystem production in societies dependent on fisheries. Nature Climate Change 4:211–216.
The authors have developed and linked models of physical, biological and human responses to climate change in 67 marine national exclusive economic zones, which yield approximately 60% of global fish catches, to project climate change yield impacts in countries with different dependencies on marine fisheries. The paper also evaluates the societal relevance of these results by looking at the dependency of individual countries on their fisheries sectors in terms of food and livelihood security, as well as at the expected global demand for fish products for an increasing human population.
FAO. 2013. Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook. Module 10: Climate-smart fisheries and aquaculture. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pp. 241-271.
This module looks at the climate smart agriculture concept from the perspective of the fisheries and aquaculture sector. Organized into six sections, the module provides an overview of the contributions made by the fisheries and aquaculture sector, the climate change impacts pathways that are affecting the sector and the vulnerabilities currently undermining resilience in aquatic systems. The ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture (EAF/EAA) is presented as the underlying approach to developing climate-smart fisheries and aquaculture. Actions that support this approach are: sustainably increasing output productivity and efficiency within the sector; reducing the sector’s vulnerability and increasing its resilience to change; and reducing and removing greenhouse gases (GHG) from within the sector. The module presents options for supporting these actions at different levels (national, regional, subsector, individual enterprise and community). The module concludes with an evaluation of the sector’s progress towards CSA and the elements that support the successful transition to CSA. Boxes are used throughout the module to provide concrete examples of CSA actions and approaches.
OECD. 2010. The Economics of Adapting Fisheries to Climate Change. OECD Publishing.
The report highlights the economic and policy aspects of adapting the fisheries sector to climate change. It provides with specific recommendations to fisheries policy makers that need to develop adaptation strategies that take into account the economic consequences of climate change. Between others, it discusses topics including how to: Strengthen global governance of fisheries; Communicate clearly with stakeholders, including the public, on how climate change will affect fisheries; Extend the use of rights-based management systems; Protect ecosystems; End environmentally harmful subsidies; Focus on aquaculture and on demand for sustainably caught seafood. It finally presents three country case studies on fisheries and climate change in UK, South Korea, and Taiwan, China.
Cochrane K, De Young C, Soto D, Bahri T, (Eds.). 2009. Climate change implications for fisheries and aquaculture: overview of current scientific knowledge. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper no. 530. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The report presents an overview of the current scientific knowledge available on climate change implications for fisheries and aquaculture is provided through three technical papers that were presented and discussed during the Expert Workshop on Climate Change Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture (Rome, 7–9 April 2008). A summary of the workshop outcomes as well as key messages on impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystems and on fisheries- and aquaculture-based livelihoods are provided in the introduction of this Technical Paper.
The first paper reviews the physical and ecological impacts of climate change relevant to marine and inland capture fisheries and aquaculture. The paper begins with a review of the physical impacts of climate change on marine and freshwater systems and then connects these changes with observed effects on fish production processes. It also outlines a series of scenarios of climate change impacts on fish production and ecosystems through case studies in different regions and ecosystems.
The second paper tackles the consequences of climate change impacts on fisheries and their dependent communities. It analyses the exposure, sensitivity and vulnerability of fisheries to climate change and presents examples of adaptive mechanisms currently used in the sector. The contribution of fisheries to greenhouse gas emissions is addressed and examples of mitigation strategies are given. The role of public policy and institutions in promoting climate change adaptation and mitigation is also explored.
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FAO. 2012c. The state of world fisheries and aquaculture. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i2727e/i2727e00.htm Today, the global community faces multiple and interlinked challenges ranging from the impacts of the ongoing financial and economic crisis to greater climate change vulnerabilities and extreme weather events. At the same time, it must also reconcile meeting the pressing food and nutrition needs of a growing population with finite natural resources. This edition of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture shows how these issues affect fisheries and aquaculture sector and how the sector is attempting to address them in a sustainable manner.
Ficke AD, Myrick CA, Hansen LJ. 2007. Potential impacts of global climate change on freshwater fisheries. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 17(4):581–613.http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11160-007-9059-5 Despite uncertainty in all levels of analysis, recent and long-term changes in our climate point to the distinct possibility that greenhouse gas emissions have altered mean annual temperatures, precipitation and weather patterns. Modeling efforts that use doubled atmospheric CO2 scenarios predict a 1–7°C mean global temperature increase, regional changes in precipitation patterns and storm tracks, and the possibility of “surprises” or sudden irreversible regime shifts. The general effects of climate change on freshwater systems will likely be increased water temperatures, decreased dissolved oxygen levels, and the increased toxicity of pollutants. In lotic systems, altered hydrologic regimes and increased groundwater temperatures could affect the quality of fish habitat. In lentic systems, eutrophication may be exacerbated or offset, and stratification will likely become more pronounced and stronger. This could alter food webs and change habitat availability and quality. Fish physiology is inextricably linked to temperature, and fish have evolved to cope with specific hydrologic regimes and habitat niches. Therefore, their physiology and life histories will be affected by alterations induced by climate change. Fish communities may change as range shifts will likely occur on a species level, not a community level; this will add novel biotic pressures to aquatic communities. Genetic change is also possible and is the only biological option for fish that are unable to migrate or acclimate. Endemic species, species in fragmented habitats, or those in east–west oriented systems will be less able to follow changing thermal isolines over time. Artisanal, commercial, and recreational fisheries worldwide depend upon freshwater fishes. Impacted fisheries may make it difficult for developing countries to meet their food demand, and developed countries may experience economic losses. As it strengthens over time, global climate change will become a more powerful stressor for fish living in natural or artificial systems. Furthermore, human response to climate change (e.g., increased water diversion) will exacerbate its already-detrimental effects. Model predictions indicate that global climate change will continue even if greenhouse gas emissions decrease or cease. Therefore, proactive management strategies such as removing other stressors from natural systems will be necessary to sustain our freshwater fisheries.
FAO. 2013a. Climate-Smart Agriculture: Sourcebook. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3325e.pdf Between now and 2050, the world’s population will increase by one-third. Most of these additional 2 billion people will live in developing countries. At the same time, more people will be living in cities. If current income and consumption growth trends continue, FAO estimates that agricultural production will have to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to satisfy the expected demands for food and feed. Agriculture must therefore transform itself if it is to feed a growing global population and provide the basis for economic growth and poverty reduction. Climate change will make this task more difficult under a business-as-usual scenario, due to adverse impacts on agriculture, requiring spiralling adaptation and related costs.
Nellemann C, Corcoran E, Duarte CM, Valdés L, De Young C, Fonseca L, Grimsditch G, (Eds). 2009. Blue Carbon. A Rapid Response Assessment. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme; Arendal, Norway: GRID-Arendal.http://www.grida.no/publications/rr/blue-carbon/ A new Rapid Response Assessment report released 14 October 2009 at the Diversitas Conference, Cape Town Conference Centre, South Africa. Compiled by experts at GRID-Arendal and UNEP in collaboration with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the UNESCO International Oceanographic Commissions and other institutions, the report highlights the critical role of the oceans and ocean ecosystems in maintaining our climate and in assisting policy makers to mainstream an oceans agenda into national and international climate change initiatives.
Energy plays a crucial role in every stage of the agri-food system: in the pre-production stage of inputs; in the production of crops, fish, livestock and forestry products; in post-production and post-harvest operations; in food storage and processing; in food transport and distribution; and in food preparation. These systems require two different types of energy: direct energy, which includes electricity, mechanical power, solid, liquid and gaseous fuels; and indirect energy, which refers to the energy required to manufacture inputs such as machinery, farm equipment, fertilizers and pesticides (FAO 2012a). 28
Over recent decades, the increased use of energy inputs has contributed significantly to feeding the world (FAO 2013a) 26 and currently, the food sector accounts for around 30% of the world’s total end-use energy consumption (ibid). It is, however, highly dependent on fossil fuels, which could potentially be a threat to food security (ibid). In addition, it is estimated that two-fifths of the world’s population still depends on unsustainably harvested wood energy for cooking and heating (Bogdanski 2012). 29 Increased food production to meet the needs of a growing population is likely to increase energy use within the sector. This could potentially widen the gap between energy demand and access and it could increase the negative impact which agriculture has on the environment through land-use change and rising emissions. Combined with unsustainable energy use in consumption, these issues present significant challenges for energy management in a CSA context. However, efficient management of energy sources and diversification through the use of sustainable renewable energy can reduce reliance on fossil fuels, increase energy supply and access, and reduce the impact on the environment. Based on this, energy management has three main aims: (i) increasing energy efficiency, (ii) generating a supply of renewable energy from the sector, and (iii) broadening access to modern energy services (FAO 2013a). 26
Contribution to CSA
- Productivity: Agricultural production can be increased by improving energy efficiency and reducing losses; increasing energy diversification through the use of renewable energy sources; and opening up access to energy sources through efficient and affordable small-scale systems.
- Adaptation through short-term risk management: Reducing reliance on fossil energy and associated costs, as well as the adoption of alternative or more sustainable means of usage of biomass (e.g. solid fuels such as wood and briquettes, or liquid biofuels), can result in increased time and income becoming available which can be used to enhance resilience to climate change impacts and reduce the vulnerability of farmers to price shocks and resource shortage. Other adaptation benefits include improved health, rural development, and increased food security.
- Mitigation: Bioenergy, solar energy, and other renewables such as hydro and geothermal energy can replace fossil fuels and other high emissions energy sources (e.g. wood and charcoal), and reduce CO2 emissions, in both the short- and long-term. Energy management can help mitigate climate change by carrying out life-cycle assessments of energy systems, identifying sustainable renewable energy resources, promoting efficient and replicable technologies, and examining policies to look for areas of improvement.
FAO. 2013. Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook. Module 5: Sound Management of Energy for Climate-smart agriculture. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pp. 139-165.
This section looks at the relationship between food and energy in a world where the climate is changing and competition for natural resources is increasing. It first discusses the topic of “energy-smart food” in the CSA context, as well as the synergies and trade-offs between energy-smart food and CSA. Furthermore, it presents possible energy solutions for CSA, including technologies for energy-smart food and CSA, as well as policies and institutions dimensions for scaling-up.
Bogdanski A. 2012. Integrated food–energy systems for climate-smart agriculture. Agriculture & Food Security 1:9.
This paper aims to describe the unique role that energy contributes to addressing some of the combined challenges related to food security and climate change. Contrary to the majority of recent literature, this manuscript will look beyond the current discussion on liquid biofuels for transport and their potential impacts on food security. The paper will give an overview of different options that allow for the joint production of food and energy in a climate-smart way, and will explain how such integrated food–energy systems (IFES) can contribute to improved food security, energy access and adaptive capacity to climate change. Drawing from case studies, the author lays out the next steps that are necessary to mainstream successful IFES into common practice, while also discussing current barriers that prevent the upscaling of such diverse and integrated systems.
FAO. 2012. Energy-smart food at FAO: an overview. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
This paper presents FAO’s work on energy in relation to specific components of the agrifood chain. It complements two recent publications, Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate Issues Paper and the policy brief, Making the Case for Energy-Smart Food. These publications presented the findings of a 2011 study commissioned by FAO that examined the linkages between energy and agrifood systems and their implications for food security and climate. The study looked at energy uses along the entire agrifood chain from field to plate and the potential of agrifood systems to produce energy. Findings confirmed that agrifood systems use a large share of the global energy supply, rely heavily on fossil fuels to meet production targets and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The study concluded that agrifood systems will have to become ‘energy-smart’ to meet future food and energy challenges, and recommended establishing a major long-term multipartner programme on energy-smart food systems based on three pillars (i) improving energy efficiency in agrifood systems, (ii) increasing the use of renewable energy in these systems and (iii) improving access to modern energy services through integrated food and energy production. In response to these recommendations, FAO has launched the multi-partner Energysmart Food for People and Climate (ESF) Programme. This paper illustrates how FAO’s longstanding work in the area of energy and agrifood systems contributes towards the ESF Programme’s objectives.
FAO. 2012a. Energy-Smart Food at FAO: An Overview. Environment and Natural Resources Working Paper no. 53. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.http://www.fao.org/docrep/015/an913e/an913e.pdf This paper presents FAO’s work on energy in relation to specific components of the agrifood chain. It complements two recent publications, Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate Issues Paper and the policy brief, Making the Case for Energy-Smart Food. These publications presented the findings of a 2011 study commissioned by FAO that examined the linkages between energy and agrifood systems and their implications for food security and climate. The study looked at energy uses along the entire agrifood chain from field to plate and the potential of agrifood systems to produce energy. Findings confirmed that agrifood systems use a large share of the global energy supply, rely heavily on fossil fuels to meet production targets and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The study concluded that agrifood systems will have to become ‘energy-smart’ to meet future food and energy challenges, and recommended establishing a major long-term multipartner programme on energy-smart food systems based on three pillars (i) improving energy efficiency in agrifood systems, (ii) increasing the use of renewable energy in these systems and (iii) improving access to modern energy services through integrated food and energy production. In response to these recommendations, FAO has launched the multi-partner Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate (ESF) Programme. This paper illustrates how FAO’s longstanding work in the area of energy and agrifood systems contributes towards the ESF Programme’s objectives.
Bogdanski A. 2012. Integrated food–energy systems for climate-smart agriculture. Agriculture & Food Security 2012:1-9.http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/2048-7010-1-9 Food production needs to increase by 70%, mostly through yield increases, to feed the world in 2050. Increases in productivity achieved in the past are attributed in part to the significant use of fossil fuels. Energy use in agriculture is therefore also expected to rise in the future, further contributing to greenhouse emissions. At the same time, more than two-fifths of the world’s population still depends on unsustainably harvested wood energy for cooking and heating. Both types of energy use have detrimental impacts on the climate and natural resources. Continuing on this path is not an option as it will put additional pressure on the already stressed natural resource base and local livelihoods, while climate change is further reducing the resilience of agro-ecosystems and smallholder farmers. Ecosystem approaches that combine both food and energy production, such as agroforestry or integrated crop–livestock–biogas systems, could substantially mitigate these risks while providing both food and energy to rural and urban populations. Information and understanding on how to change course through the implementation of the practices outlined in this paper are urgently needed. Yet the scientific basis of such integrated systems, which is essential to inform decision-makers and to secure policy support, is still relatively scarce. The author therefore argues that new assessment methodologies based on a systems-oriented analysis are needed for analyzing these complex, multidisciplinary and large-scale phenomena.