Guide: global investment in climate-smart ag

By CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security

Significant levels of private and public investments are required to meet projected increases in demand for agricultural products – estimated at USD $83 billion annually from 2005-2050 in developing countries.

At COP24 this week, World Bank, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) launched a new report analysing global trends in climate-smart agriculture and identifying “best bet” approaches that can guide large-scale investment. 


10 key insights were presented at the CSA Investment Advantage event, drawing on analysis of climate-smart agriculture in 33 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“Across regions in the developing countries where we work, we see strongly growing demand for climate-smart food systems,” said Martien van Nieuwkoop, the Director of Agriculture for the World Bank Group. 

“One thing is clear from this synthesis: there are many opportunities to switch to practices that unlock the triple wins of higher yields, improved resilience and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and more and more expertise is available to make this vision a reality.”

Five technology clusters were ranked in the top 10 for climate-smartness in all three categories of adaptation, mitigation and productivity. These clusters were tree management, improved pastures, silvopasture, conservation agriculture and water management.

Climate smart ag strategies
Figure 1- Smartness Scores of Climate-Smart Technologies by Pillar (global)

It was also highlighted that CSA technologies with the highest smartness scores are not always widely prioritized by experts and widely identified technologies do not always hold the highest smartness scores. For example, within maize (corn) systems globally, experts identified boundary planting as climate-smart on just three occasions (representing 1.6 percent of all technologies for that crop), despite an average smartness score of 7.10 out of 10. Crop tolerance to stress represented over 14 percent of all technologies, but received an average smartness score of only 3.31. 

Climate smart adaptations
Figure 2- Top 10 Climate-Smart Technology Clusters (global) 

“The CSA profiles are an effective entry point to unlock discussions and actions on CSA,” said Godefroy Grosjean, CIAT’s Asia Climate Policy Hub leader. 

“They should however be embedded within a broader suite of decision-making tools, such as Climate Smart Investments plans and sub-national climate risks profiles. These will allow actors to look beyond on-farm practices and develop strategies that increase resilience of the whole agricultural value chain, while reducing emissions and improving livelihoods. CIAT, CCAFS and its partners such as the World Bank are particularly committed to provide support to decision-making to make the agricultural transformation a success,” he added.

Capacity needs in the form of training and information was identified as the single largest barrier to CSA adoption across all regions, affecting almost 90 percent of all interventions. Investments in capacity building (for farmers, experts, and decision makers alike) and knowledge dissemination (through public extension services, universities and academia, or the private sector) are critical for ensuring the widespread adoption of CSA, particularly to enable the vital but complex implementation of integrated measures, according to the report.


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