In 2015, the international community set two reframing agendas for the sustainable future of our planet. During the United Nations (UN) Summit on Sustainable Development, countries adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to jointly embark on a resilient and sustainable path that leaves no one behind. With the historic adoption of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries pledged to take important steps in reducing their Greenhouse Gas (GHG)emissions and strengthen countries resilience and ability to adapt to climate change, joining the cause to take common climate actions. Both transformational agendas acknowledge the critical importance of agriculture in dealing with the large climatic changes currently faced, the severity of which is likely to increase in the future. Furthermore, both the Paris Agreement and the SDGs stress the importance of safeguarding food security and ending hunger in the face of climate change. The role of agriculture is not only crucial in mitigating, but also in adapting to climate change.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), approximately a quarter of all anthropogenic GHG emissions worldwide are caused by agriculture, forestry and land use changes. At the same time, by causing extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, climate change is depriving the livelihoods of millions of people around the world. Particularly affected are the nearly 80 percent of the worlds poor that live in rural areas and typically rely on agriculture, forestry and fisheries for their survival. Countries around the world plan for a significant role of agriculture in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Nearly 80 percent of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to meet the Paris Agreement commitments, contain plans of action on agricultural mitigation, while 90 percent of the NDCs that include adaptation selected the agricultural sector as a priority area for action.
Despite major improvements in the last decades to eradicate hunger, the international community is still distant from reaching the Zero Hunger Objective, as also recognized at the G7 Meeting in Taormina, Italy (May2017). After a prolonged decline, global hunger increased again in 2016, and now affects 815 million people. To keep meeting the worlds growing food demands, FAO projected that current agricultural production levels need to rise up to 60 percent by 2050. Though changes in crop yields are hard to estimate, the IPCC warns that decreases of 10 to 25 percent may be widespread by 2050 in the face of climate change.
To assist countries in developing and transforming agricultural systems that both limit their impact on and are resilient to climate change, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) mobilizes support in promoting ClimateSmart Agriculture (CSA) around the world. It aims to sustainably increase agricultural productivity, adapt and build resilience to climate change, and reduce and/or remove GHG emissions in the agricultural sector. To encourage integrated approaches to these three pillars of CSA (productivity, adaptation and mitigation), renewed multi-stakeholder partnerships are needed that include both private and public actors around the world. To this end, the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea of Italy (IMELS) and FAO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2014 to support the Project International Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture. As part of this project, IMELS supported FAO in hosting and implementing the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA), as a multi-stakeholder platform to foster learning, knowledge sharing, partnership building, dialogue and debate in the context of CSA. The GACSA helps experts, researchers and practitioners to tap into the wealth of CSA-related resources, knowledge, information and expertise, boosting concrete CSA initiatives at all levels that help address the challenges facing food security and agriculture in the context of climate change.
The IMELS and FAO are pleased to present this publication with an overview of how the project created knowledge, helped identify capacity and implementation gaps, and developed assessments and tools for the promotion and implementation of CSA actions. Through this project, IMELS and FAO have been crucial players in creating a strong knowledge community around CSA. Based on results achieved by the project, IMELS and FAO have been collaborating to scale-up CSA at the field level, to backstop its integration in agricultural systems, and at the policy level, representing a concrete support to specific needs of developing countries. Around the world, CSA has proven to be an invaluable method to build productive, resilient and climate-smart agricultural systems to bolster sustainable development and ensure food security in a changing climate. Collaborative efforts to build knowledge around and implement CSA therefore provide important pathways toward achieving the Paris Agreement and reaching the SDGs, both now and in the future.
Agriculture and Climate Change: Challenges and opportunities at the global and local level Collaboration on Climate-Smart Agriculture. 2019. Food and Agriculture Organization, UN. Rome. Foreword by Alexander Jones and Francesco LA Camera.