“Something that began in The Hague four years ago as a political discussion has since developed into a large international research community,” said Professor Martin Kropff, Rector Magnificus of Wageningen University and vice chairman of the Wageningen UR Executive Board, at the opening of the third Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture. This conference drew some 750 participants from 75 different countries and 5 continents to Montpellier to discuss the current state of play and main priorities regarding Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA). Various speakers from Wageningen UR were present, amongst whom Pablo Tittonell, Chair Professor Farming Systems Ecology Group who gave a plenary presentation.
The conference was an initiative of the Global Alliance for Climate- Smart Agriculture (GACSA). This alliance was created so that agriculture would not be regarded merely as a sector that contributed to climate change but as one with the potential to offer solutions to this problem. Within the framework of CSA, solutions are being sought that will combine three aims: food security, adaptation and mitigation. This will help to achieve sustainable landscapes and food supply systems for the future.
Over the last few years, the efforts of international organisations and networks such as the FAO, WB, CGIAR, CCAFS , UC Davis, but also of Wageningen UR and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs have brought CSA into the international arena and underlined its importance. As a result, CSA has been able to bring together a large group of researchers of all persuasions. Or as Frank Rijsberman ( CEO, CGIAR Consortium, Montpellier) put it in his speech: “CSA bridges OECD countries and developing countries.”
CSA has been so successful in attracting the attention of international policymakers that agriculture has been included in the climate negotiations for the upcoming COP21. The conference could not have been better timed, according to Anne-Marie Descôtes (DG Global Affairs, Development and Partnerships, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development) and Laurence Tubiana (Ambassador and Special Representative of the French Government for COP21). The conference conclusions and recommendations will be further discussed in various committees to prepare for COP21 and taken on board by the UNFCCC negotiators.
The presentations and poster sessions demonstrated that considerable progress has been made over the last two years in CSA-related technologies, capacity building, education, insurance, weather and climate services, and policy. The conference also communicated clear messages for future research priorities and actions. CSA research and actions should:
- focus on more complex systems such as sustainable food systems, landscapes and watersheds;
- place emphasis on implementation, monitoring and evaluation in order to understand the effects that solutions have on food security, adaptation and mitigation, including any tipping points
- place more emphasis on transformative change processes and less on incremental changes;
- work on supporting policy and strengthening traditional institutions such as information services and on funding instruments which stimulate food security and adaptation as well as mitigation.
Researchers from Wageningen UR who spoke during the conference were:
- Pablo Tittonell: Agroecology is climate smart
- Dr Jan Verhagen: ‘Towards metrics to track and assess climate smart agriculture’
- Professor Eddy Moors: ‘Adaptation and mitigation services for climate smart agriculture’