Agroecology provides technologies for climate change adaptation
Climate change will have impacts on agriculture and the extent of these impacts will depend, in a large part, on the ability of producers to respond and adapt to future climate conditions. This requires immediate efforts to build resilience and adaptive capacity in the face of existing vulnerabilities and high levels of uncertainty.
UNEP-GEF has published, as part of its TNA [Technology Needs Assessment] Guidebook Series, a guidebook on technologies for climate change adaptation in the agriculture sector. The aim is to support developing countries to select adaptation technologies and practices in their agriculture sectors.
Based on a literature review of key publications, journal articles, and e-platforms, and drawing on documented experiences sourced from a range of organisations working on projects and programmes concerned with climate change adaptation technologies in the agriculture sector, the guidebook describes what policy makers, development planners, agriculture experts and other stakeholders in countries should consider while determining a technology development path in agriculture.
A set of 22 adaptation technologies are showcased, and these are based primarily on the principles of agroecology. Agroecology is an approach that encompasses concepts of sustainable production and biodiversity promotion and therefore provides a useful framework for identifying and selecting appropriate adaptation technologies for the agriculture sector.
We reproduce below the Executive Summary of the guidebook. The full document can be downloaded at:
a policy brief from Prolinnova highlights how grassroots innovation
in the face of climate change provides a promising starting point for
community-led adaptation. The policy brief is available at: http://www.prolinnova.net/sites/default/files/documents/thematic_pages/climate_
With best wishes,
Technologies for Climate Change Adaptation: Agriculture Sector
Clements, R., J. Haggar, A. Quezada, and J. Torres (2011). Technologies for Climate Change Adaptation – Agriculture Sector. X. Zhu (Ed.). UNEP Ris๘ Centre, Roskilde, 2011
This guidebook presents a selection of technologies for climate change adaptation in the agriculture sector. A set of 22 adaptation technologies are showcased. These are based primarily on the principles of agroecology, but also include scientific technologies of climate and biological sciences complemented by important sociological and institutional capacity building processes that are required for climate change to function. The technologies cover:
* Planning for climate change and variability
* Sustainable water use and management
* Soil management
* Sustainable crop management
* Sustainable livestock management
* Sustainable farming systems
* Capacity building and stakeholder organisation.
Technologies that tend to homogenise the natural environment and agricultural production have low possibilities of success in environmental stress conditions that are likely to result from climate change. On the other hand, technologies that allow for, and promote diversity are more likely to provide a strategy which strengthens agricultural production in the face of uncertain future climate change scenarios. The 22 technologies showcased in this guidebook have been selected because they facilitate the conservation and restoration of diversity while also providing opportunities for increasing agricultural productivity. Many of these technologies are not new to agricultural production practices, but they are implemented based on the assessment of current and possible future impacts of climate change in a particular location. Agroecology is an approach that encompasses concepts of sustainable production and biodiversity promotion and therefore provides a useful framework for identifying and selecting appropriate adaptation technologies for the agriculture sector.
The guidebook provides a systematic analysis of the most relevant information available on climate change adaptation technologies in the agriculture sector. It has been compiled based on a literature review of key publications, journal articles, and e-platforms, and by drawing on documented experiences sourced from a range of organisations working on projects and programmes concerned with climate change adaptation technologies in the agriculture sector. Its geographic scope focuses on developing countries where high levels of poverty, agricultural production, climate variability and biological diversity intersect.
Key concepts around climate change adaptation are not universally agreed on. It is therefore important to understand local contexts – especially social and cultural norms – when working with national and sub-national stakeholders to make informed decisions about appropriate technology options. Thus, decision-making processes should be participative, facilitated, and consensus-building oriented and should be based on the following key guiding principles:
* Increasing awareness and knowledge
* Strengthening institutions
* Protecting natural resources
* Providing financial assistance
* Developing context-specific strategies.
To assist with decision-making, the Community–based Adaptation (CBA) framework is proposed for creating inclusive governance. The CBA framework engages a range of stakeholders directly with local or district government and national coordinating bodies, and facilitates participatory planning, monitoring and implementation of adaptation activities. Seven criteria are suggested for the prioritisation of adaptation technologies: (i) the extent to which the technology maintains or strengthens biological diversity and is environmentally sustainable; (ii) the extent to which the technology facilitates access to information systems and awareness of climate change information; (iii) whether the technology supports water, carbon and nutrient cycles and enables stable and/or increased productivity; (iv) income-generating potential, cost-benefit analysis and contribution to improved equity; (v) respect for cultural diversity and facilitation of inter-cultural exchange; (vi) potential for integration into regional and national policies and upscaling; and (vii) the extent to which the technology builds formal and informal institutions and social networks.
Finally, this guidebook makes the following recommendations for practitioners and policy makers:
* There is an urgent need for improved climate modelling and forecasting that can provide a basis for informed decision-making and the implementation of adaptation strategies. This should include traditional knowledge
* Information is also required to better understand the behaviour of plants, animals, pests and diseases as they react to climate change
* Potential changes in economic and social systems in the future under different climate scenarios should also be investigated so that the implications of adaptation strategy and planning choices are better understood
* It is important to secure effective flows of information through appropriate dissemination channels. This is vital for building adaptive capacity and decision-making processes
* Improved analysis of adaptation technologies is required to show how they can contribute to building adaptive capacity and resilience in the agriculture sector. This information needs to be compiled and disseminated for a range of stakeholders from local to national levels
* Relationships between policy makers, researchers and communities should be built so that technologies and planning processes are developed in partnership, responding to producers’ needs and integrating their knowledge.