Knowledge for Development

Relevant publications

Robust cropping systems to tackle pests under climate change. A review

This article reviews the effects of climate change on crop protection and strategies to reduce the impact of future invasive crop pests as well as those of rapidly evolving resident populations. The authors make the following points: (i) the consequence of climate change and globalization is a heightened level of unpredictability of interactions between weather, cropping systems and pests; (ii) the unpredictable adaptation of pests to a changing environment creates uncertainty and projected changes do not automatically translate into doom and gloom scenarios; (iii) faced with uncertainty, policy, research, and extension should prepare for worst-case scenarios following a ‘no regrets’ approach that promotes resilience vis-à-vis pests; (iv) farmers can take advantage of Web 2.0 and other new technologies to make the exchange of updated information quicker and easier; and (v) cooperation between historically compartmentalized experts in plant health and crop protection could help develop anticipation strategies. (Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 31/12/2014)Download the article


Coping with climate change: The role of genetic resources for food and agriculture

Genetic resources have a critical role to play in feeding the world, especially as climate change advances faster than expected, and much more needs to be done to study, preserve and utilize the biological diversity that underpins world food production. In this new book published by the FAO the authors argue that that the ability of plants and animals raised by farmers to withstand volatile conditions and adapt when the environment changes is a direct result of their genetic diversity. However, stronger efforts are needed to study and use this diversity as a coping mechanism, and to develop policies to support it. In particular, improving knowledge, conservation and use of crop wild relatives is important. They are likely to have genetic traits that can be used to develop well-adapted crops for use in climate change-affected food systems. (Rural 21, 03/02/2015)Download the book.


Modelling adaptation to climate change in agriculture

This OECD paper proposes adaptation measures that could be introduced to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on agriculture. It  stresses the importance of planned adaptation measures and highlights possible strategies for reducing risk and improving resilience. This study uses the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) to quantify the possible effects of climate change and the effectiveness of adaptation measures. The potential impacts of two adaptation strategies on yields, prices and food security: (i) research and development (to develop new crop varieties that are better suited to changed climate conditions) and (ii) changes in irrigation technology are explored.    (OECD, 22/12/2014)


Livestock population dynamics and pastoral communities’ adaptation to rainfall variability in Botswana

Drought severity and the impact of rainfall variability on livestock population and adaptation practices were investigated in Kgalagadi, Botswana, a district that is vulnerable to recurring mild droughts. This study found that livestock population In Kgalagadi, particularly goats, tend to be positively associated with mean annual precipitation. Pastoral farmers’ adaptation practices include destocking, supplementation and mobility. It was concluded that current grazing policies that promote fencing could therefore increase the pastoral farmers’ vulnerability to droughts, as it limits their mobility.  (Pastoralism, 24/12/2014)


Agricultural production, dietary diversity, and climate variability

This World Bank paper provides an empirical application of the non-separable household model linking the effects of exogenous variations in planting season production decisions via climate variability on household dietary diversity. Using exogenous variations in degree days, rainfall and agricultural capital stocks as instruments, the authors estimate the effect of production on household dietary diversity at harvest. The empirical specifications estimate production effects on dietary diversity using both agricultural revenue and crop production diversity.    (World Bank, 01/09/2014)   Download the report 


Understanding the water-food-energy nexus in the context of climate change

Energy, water and food resource systems are fundamentally interrelated but to date the three resource systems have mostly been organised and studied separately. A 'nexus approach', a multidisciplinary type of analysis of the relationship between energy, water and food, can help to reduce trade-offs and to build synergies across these three sectors. Produced by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), this report reviews the current thinking on the 'energy-water-food Nexus' and the water-energy interrelationship to provide relevant information for local and regional decision-makers responsible for development and implementation of policies related to energy and water resource systems.   (ECN, 08/2014)


Strengthening resilience of coastal and small island communities against climate change hazards

UNESCO puts emphasis on the integration of scientific and local and indigenous knowledge in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. The Asia-Pacific Network for global change research (APN) has contributed to the studies that have informed this publication, especially for those in coastal and small island communities in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste. Section 1 of the publication introduces the background, basic concepts and methodology used in the UNESCO project on 'Strengthening the Resilience of Coastal and Small Island Communities towards Hydro-meteorological Hazards and Climate Change Impacts'. Section 2 consists of country-specific lessons learned and action points derived from programmes implemented in the three countries. Sections 3 and 4 present specific policy actions and tools for promoting the integration of local and indigenous knowledge and science for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.   (APN, 18/09/2014)


Climate-smart agriculture and resource tenure in sub-Saharan Africa: A conceptual framework

Key characteristics of four categories of agricultural practices with high climate-smart agriculture (CSA) potential related to sustainable land management are discussed in this paper. They include: Conservation agriculture (CA), Agroforestry, Soil and Water Conservation (SWC), Irrigation and Drainage. Nancy McCarthy and Josh Brubaker, consultants based in Washington D.C., USA, have hypothesised interactions between tenure security and adoption of changes in agricultural practices with high CSA potential, to help inform the design of CSA and tenure interventions, monitoring and evaluation plans, and impact assessment designs. They have laid out a conceptual framework for evaluating the pathways by which expanding property rights and strengthening tenure security affects incentives to adopt technologies broadly, and then apply the framework to each of the four CSA practices.   (FAO, 09/2014)


Science-practice interactions for effective climate change adaptation: identifying new approaches for collaboration between Europe and low-income countries

Although research can provide context-specific data, analysis and knowledge for climate change adaptation, yet in practice, the potential of science-practice interaction is still underdeveloped. Funds for research on climate change adaptation will considerably increase in the coming years. It is therefore important to explore ways of channelling the funds to promising research that can provide context-specific data, analysis and knowledge for climate change adaptation in low-income countries. This policy brief summarises the key findings and recommendations of an international expert workshop organised by the German Development Institute (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik, DIE), the EU project CIRCLE-2 (Climate Impact Research & Response Coordination for a Larger Europe), and the German Aerospace Centre Project Management Agency (PT-DLR). Two key recommendation are: Extend the basis for identification of knowledge needs beyond literature review and the advice of a limited number of experts and high-level stakeholders. Funding agencies need to provide sufficient time and resources for science-practice interaction and should reconsider its incentives structures for research. (DIE, 29/01/2014)


The Africa Agriculture Status Report 2014: climate change and smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa

The Africa Agriculture Status Report 2014 (AASR) presents a comprehensive overview of smallholder agriculture in Africa and provides foresight for the planning of a 'climate-smart agricultural’ (CSA) sector on the continent. The first part of the report that was published by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, focuses on climate variability and change, its impacts on agriculture, the need for adaptation to improve resilience, mitigation issues, and the factors influencing the adoption of climate-smart practices. The second part maps, on the basis of new research, the regions at highest risk for more ‘failed seasons’ as rainfall become more erratic. This part also contains a compilation of micro- and macro-agriculture data tables from selected SSA countries that show trends in agricultural data and climate-related variables. Recommended solution-oriented actions include: (i) promote climate-smart, context-driven agro-ecological approaches and solutions; (ii) strengthen national and local institutions; (iii) build technical capacity and improve knowledge management systems; (iv) raise the level of national investments in agriculture; and (v) create innovative financing mechanisms.    (AGRA, 08/2014)


Drought and food security – Improving decision-support via new technologies and innovative collaboration

The integration of three state-of-the-art technologies such that scientific findings and data are linked to actual user requirements including governments to achieve better decision-support for agricultural drought preparedness, has been proposed by Markus Enenkel, Vienna University of Technology, Austria and colleagues. Several promising approaches, ranging from the integration of satellite-derived soil moisture measurements that link atmospheric processes to anomalies on the land surface to improved long-range weather predictions and mobile applications are explored. Satellite-derived soil moisture measurements from space-based microwave sensors can help detect plant water deficiencies earlier than conventional products such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and forecasting models can provide seasonal predictions. These models must be calibrated to regional conditions, take into account weather uncertainties and 'hindsight' data, and be combined with crop health predictions. Mobile applications can link end users to drought-relevant information and also play a vital role in validating satellite-derived drought indicators and collecting socio-economic conditions. According to the authors, the added value of these technologies should create enough political will to ensure they find their way into the decision-support toolboxes of the end users.   (Global Food Security, 10/09/2014)


Best practice innovation policy for emerging renewable energy technologies

This report presents international best practice for strategic innovation policy delivery, synthesising proven methods from around the world. It also makes new recommendations to improve the delivery of on-going policy tools, focusing on reducing risk for private sector investment earlier along the innovation chain, and pursuing an increasingly international innovation policy. By following these principles, governments could unlock renewable energy technology deployment at lowest cost and also enhance technology driven economic growth and exports. The report prepared by the Carbon Trust and supported by Element Energy, involved extensive input through workshops and interviews with leading international policymakers and industry experts.   (IEA-RETD, 09/2014)


Adapting to climate change through land and water management in Eastern Africa

The FAO has compiled the results of a pilot project conducted in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania to strengthen the capacity of farmers to adapt to climate change through land and water management. Based on a participatory integrated watershed management approach, technologies that been identified which help farming communities to cope with changes in water availability and flooding. These include area closure, construction of soil and stone-faced bunds, afforestation and cut-off drains. In some localities, hardy yellow sisal varieties, stone rows and gunny bags to stabilise the soils were successfully adopted by farmers.   (FAO, 2014)


Monitoring and evaluation for climate change adaptation and resilience: A synthesis of tools, frameworks and approaches

This report published by the SEA Change (Vietnam) and UKCIP (UK), is a synthesis and summary of frameworks for the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of climate change adaptation and resilience (CCAR) interventions, with a specific focus on international development projects and programmes. The objective of this report is to: (i) provide an easy-to-read synthesis of current adaptation and resilience M&E resources, frameworks, and approaches so that practitioners are able to more easily identify the information and tools that are most relevant to their needs; (ii) provide a short analysis of the 'state of play' of adaptation and resilience M&E guidance, identifying key themes and reflecting upon gaps and future priorities. The synthesis exposes a considerable overlap between some of these M&E frameworks, but also very important differences in approach, methodology, and intended audience. Among the key findings was a strong demand for an overarching, comprehensive document that would help M&E practitioners and CCAR programme managers understand the state of play of CCAR M&E, and also provide guidance in choosing which materials are best suited to the needs at hand.   (SEA Change CoP, 15/05/2014)   


The Economics of Climate Change in the Pacific

The Asian Development Bank identifies in this comprehensive report the effects and quantifies the costs of the adverse outcomes of climate change to the Pacific island economies, with details provided for selected key sectors including agriculture, fisheries, tourism, coral reefs, and human health. It presents policy recommendations and action steps for the countries to minimise or mitigate these impacts. Some of the report's findings include the following: the combination and interaction of geographic, economic, environmental, and demographic factors are expected to make the Pacific region particularly sensitive to climate change; mainstreaming climate change actions in development planning is crucial to minimise the impacts of climate change; an adaptation strategy is key to addressing the multitude of climate change impacts. This publication is available for a fee as well as free download.   (ADB, 11/2013)


Managing drought risk in a changing climate: The role of national drought policy

In this open-access article in Weather and Climate Extremes, Donald A. Wilhite, at the School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, USA, and colleagues address the growing worldwide concern about the ineffectiveness of current drought management practices. Most in-country policy and practices related to drought management are based on the principles of crisis management, resulting in the ‘reactive’ treatment of the ‘symptoms’ of drought. The authors argue that a comprehensive drought management plan must address the causes for the vulnerabilities associated with this type of extreme climatic event. They further show that through the adoption of national drought policies that are focused on risk reduction and complemented by drought mitigation or preparedness plans at various levels of government, the coping capacity of nations to manage droughts can be improved. In their paper they discuss the underlying concepts of drought, the principles and objectives of national drought policies and a drought planning process that has been effective in the preparation of drought mitigation plans.   (Weather and Climate Extreme, 18/03/2014)


East African agriculture and climate change, a comprehensive analysis

East African Agriculture and Climate Change: A Comprehensive Analysis, the second of three volumes in IFPRI's Climate Change in Africa series, examines the food security threats facing 10 countries in East and Central Africa and explores how climate change will increase the efforts needed to achieve sustainable food security throughout this region. Through the use of hundreds of scenario maps, models, figures, and detailed analysis, the editors and contributors of East African Agriculture and Climate Change present plausible future scenarios that combine economic and biophysical characteristics to explore the possible consequences for agriculture, food security, and resources management to 2050. They also offer recommendations to national governments and regional economic agencies already dealing with the vulnerabilities of climate change and deviations in environment.   (IFPRI, 09/12/2013) 


Climate Change and Agriculture in Jamaica

‘Climate Change and Agriculture in Jamaica’ is a report by the Investment Centre Division (TCI) of the FAO and discusses options for improvements to current policy on climate change and agriculture in Jamaica. It presents current information on the vulnerability of agro-ecosystems and food production systems, past trends in climate, and impacts of climate variability on sub-sectors such as fisheries, crop suitability, water resources and erosion. The discussion addresses broader policy directions, technical alternatives and investment priorities in relation to climate change adaptation. Examples of innovative agricultural practices and policy (such as: strengthening of Research & Development links; development of agriculture weather risk management; use of traditional and local knowledge to speed up adaptation planning; strengthening of data collection, monitoring and forecasting) are presented as coping strategies, along a detailed list of ongoing and completed projects/initiatives related to climate change and agriculture in Jamaica., 09/2013)


South African food security and climate change: agriculture futures

In a recent report, published in a special issue of Economics, the projected changes in planted area, yield per area, net exports/imports and prices for five major agricultural crops in South Africa were simulated using the projections of four Global Circulation Models (GCMs) under three socio-economic scenarios. The results indicate slightly rising to stable yields per unit area up to 2050, despite climate change, largely due to the inbuilt assumption of ongoing agronomic and genetic improvements. Policies to increase local agricultural production in South Africa, decrease climate sensitivity and access to international markets are highlighted.     (Economics eJournal, 02/09/2013)


Developing high-quality meteorological data for East and West Africa from merged sources

This CCAFS project, completed by Princeton University scientists J. Sheffield and N. Chaney, developed a daily dataset of meteorological variables for 1979–2008 for West and East Africa using  global gridded monthly observations merged with high temporal resolution data and scaled down in space to 10 km resolution. The dataset was improved by assimilating daily station data where available. The final dataset was used to calculate indices of extreme daily values and potential evaporation, in order to demonstrate its potential, which is real, for use in climate change studies and for forcing crop models.      (CCAFS Working Paper 45, 22/08/2013)