Climate-smart agriculture is an approach that helps unlock sustainable solutions in agriculture sectors impacted by climate change to ensure food security and nutrition. Originally published in 2013, the Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook underwent a two-year revision process and on the Agriculture Action Day at the COP23, FAO launched the widely anticipated second edition as a dynamic website platform with refined module topics and five new module additions.
The Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook draws together a wide range of knowledge and expertise on the concept of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) to better guide policy makers, program managers, sectoral experts, academics, extension agents, as well as practitioners to make the agricultural sectors (crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry) more sustainable and productive, while responding to the challenges of climate change and food security.
Before updating the sourcebook, FAO connected with existing and potential CSA sourcebook users through a survey analysis to identify which topics of interest were currently missing from the sourcebook and the main information needs and expectations for an updated sourcebook. Following the survey results, FAO developed five new modules; Climate change adaptation and mitigation, Integrated production systems, Supporting rural producers with knowledge of CSA, The role of gender in CSA, and The theory of change for CSA approach: a guide to evidence-based implementation at the country level.
Many countries have embraced the concept of CSA. This was evidenced in a FAO study issued in 2016 showing that 32 of the 189 countries that had submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions for the Paris Agreement specifically referenced CSA. Through research and activities supported by FAO and many other groups, the knowledge base underpinning CSA has also grown significantly. The insights gained in recent years, the success stories and the experiences that have created a better understanding of potential accelerators and barriers to the adoption of CSA practices, are all essential for preparing the ground for the further expansion of CSA at all levels.
The climate-smart agriculture approach pursues three-pillars to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes, adapt and build resilience to climate change, and reduce and/or remove greenhouse gases, where possible. The CSA approach seeks to reduce trade-offs and promote synergies by taking these objectives into consideration to inform decisions from the local to the global scales to derive locally acceptable solutions.
In 2016, Yemen was among the most water-scarce countries in the world (with less than 5 percent of the world average available per person per year), making irrigation a key concern for farmers. Through the Sana’a basin project, FAO helped famers apply climate smart agriculture practices to improve productivity and water management through providing solar-powered irrigation pumps. With the inflation of fuel prices and fuel shortages on a national scale, operating diesel-powered pumps was nearly impossible for many. Incorporating solar-powered irrigation pumps allowed farmers to continue production (stabilize livelihoods) regardless of fuel shortages, as well as adapt to the climate change and reduce emissions.
Furthermore, there are five actions to implement a CSA approach successfully; i) Expanding the evidence base; ii) supporting enabling policy frameworks; iii) Strengthening national/local institutions; iv) Enhancing financing options; and v) Implementing practices at field level. ‘Expanding the evidence base’ acts as the foundation to the whole approach, as it informs and expands the actions to strengthen national/local institutions, enhance financial options and support policy frameworks. These three actions then support and inform the implementation of CSA practices at field level. The CSA practices on the ground inform and expand, through monitoring and evaluation, the evidence base.
The evidence base is made up of the current and projected effects of climate change in a country, identifying both the key vulnerabilities in the agricultural sector and the the effective adaptation options. It includes estimates of the potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions generated by adaptation strategies, information on costs and barriers to the adoption of different practices and the required policy and institutional responses to overcome them.
One of the many goals behind updating and digitizing the CSA Sourcebook was to produce a robust and global knowledge resource on CSA that was more easily accessible and user-friendly to existing and new sourcebook users. With the continued growing interest in CSA, FAO will continue to expand its work on climate-smart agriculture at the regional level in 2018/2019 and strengthen country-ownership behind the implementation of climate-smart agriculture practices globally.
FAO launched two new communication products alongside the CSA Sourcebook website at COP23. The Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook Booklet as an executive summary of the contents in the second edition of the sourcebook and a CSA Infographic that highlights the definition of CSA, its three pillars and five actions for implementation.