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'Climate-Smart' agriculture: policies, practices and financing for food security, adaptation, and mitigation

Publication date:
L. Lipper (ed)
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Most estimates show that climate change will reduce agricultural productivity, production stability and incomes in areas that already have high levels of food insecurity. The world needs to increase agricultural production by at least 70 per cent to meet food demands by 2050. In order to achieve this, agriculture in developing countries must undergo a significant transformation while responding to climate change. This paper examines the financial, technical, institutional and policy requirements to achieve this transformation and suggests that climate-smart agriculture is crucial to achieving future food security and climate change goals. It defines climate-smart agriculture as sustainably increasing productivity and resilience, reduction or removal of green house gases and achievement of national food security and development goals.The paper builds on case studies from the field and outlines a range of practices, approaches and tools to increase resilience and productivity of agricultural systems and the reduction or removal of emissions. The second part surveys institutional and policy options available to promote the transition to climate-smart agriculture at the smallholder level. In the third part, it considers current financing gaps and makes innovative suggestions regarding the combined use of different sources, financing mechanisms and delivery systems.The paper conveys the following key messages:

Effective climate-smart practices already exist and should be applied in developing country agricultural systems.
Adopting an ecosystem approach, working at landscape scale and ensuring inter-sectoral coordination and cooperation is crucial for effective climate change responses.
Much more needs to be done in filling data and knowledge gaps, and in research and development of technologies, methodologies, and the conservation and production of suitable varieties and breeds.
Institutional and financial support should be given to enable smallholders to make the transition to climate-smart agriculture.
Strengthened institutional capacity will be needed to improve dissemination of climate-smart information and coordinate over large areas and numbers of farmers.
There should be greater consistency between agriculture, food security and climate change policy-making at national, regional and international levels.
Currently available and projected financing is insufficient to meet climate change and food security challenges faced by the agriculture sector.
Public and private financing sources should be combined with funds earmarked for climate change and food security in order to meet the investment requirements of the agricultural sector.
To fast-track financing to agriculture, financing mechanisms will need to take sector-specific considerations into account.