Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA): A Scientific Publication from the Davis Conference

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Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA): A Primer

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Following the CSA 2nd Global Science Conference at UC Davis, a group of conference participants constructed a short paper to summarize the main concepts, goals, methodological approaches underlying CSA, also providing a couple of examples where CSA is being implemented.  We hope the paper will be useful in furthering knowledge of CSA and motivating its adoption.


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Climate change is occurring more rapidly than anticipated and the increase in extreme weather events threatens more disruptive effects to agriculture. Existing technologies and current institutional structures seem inadequate to achieve the mitigation needed to adequately slow climate change, while also meeting needed food security, livelihood and sustainability goals. We must identify actions that are science-based, utilize knowledge systems in new ways, and provide resilience for food systems and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes despite the future uncertainty of climate change and extreme events. It is imperative that new modes of science-policy integration transform land management and community action for food security, and for conservation of biodiversity and the resource base upon which agriculture depends.

At the 2011 Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) in Wageningen, participants took stock of global science and best practices concerning climate smart agriculture worldwide.  Participants agreed on a broad agenda for action for science and policy to strengthen food security, adaptation and mitigation (Wageningen Declaration). The 2013 Conference agenda builds on that consensus focusing on three main themes: farm and food systems, landscape and regional issues, and the integrative and transformative institutional and policy aspects that will bridge across scales to link science and practice to ensure food security, poverty alleviation and multiple ecosystem services.


Overview of the Conference Program

The conference is structured around:

1) a set of open plenary lectures on specific topics that offer an overview and an interpretation of major issues related to climate change and agriculture,

2) a set of parallel science sessions that offer interdisciplinary views and a forum for in depth discussion on narrower issues where the effort will be to collectively seek conclusions regarding the available scientific knowledge that forms a basis for specific policies and/or actions to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change, and the new research initiatives that could greatly advance effective science/policy integration for improving food security, land management, ecosystem services and sustainable development,

3) a set of special sessions organized by groups and institutions to highlight research and specific actions underway to influence and/or achieve mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and the ways that these research initiatives are supported by specific institutions and policies.

Hopefully, these three program components will help in clarifying the state of science today, as it is relevant to climate change and agriculture, further diffuse knowledge among participants and others internationally, and result in specific ideas for new types of research initiatives that utilize diverse sets of knowledge systems, and provide stronger linkages between science and policy.

The conference will also develop a statement regarding the main findings and recommendations that emerge from the discussions. We hope all participants will join in the discussions for developing this statement and collectively participate in the reflections on the statement on Friday.

Elements of the draft statement will be produced by conference participants as the conference proceeds, responding to the presentations and discussion in the plenary lectures and the parallel science sessions. The draft will be available on paper on Friday morning. We hope you will engage and discuss this draft and contribute to its refinement. Without knowing in advance the evolution of the conference and the degree of agreement on different issues, we cannot predict the nature of the document. However, the intent of the conference is to focus on both state of science and also the implications of this science for policy and action.

Thank you to all of the participants for your contributions.