A man in a hat holding a yellow mango stands in front of a large white sign in a field of mangos.
A local farmer in Myanmar poses in front of a mango field that is a part of a Climate Smart Village.

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) (or climate resilient agriculture) is an integrated approach to managing land to help adapt agricultural methods, livestock and crops to the effects of climate change and, where possible, counteract it by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, while taking into account the growing world population to ensure food security.[1] The emphasis is not simply on carbon farming or sustainable agriculture, but also on increasing agricultural productivity.

CSA has three pillars: increasing agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing or removing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.[2] There are different actions listed to counter the future challenges for crops and plants. For example, with regard to rising temperatures and heat stress, CSA recommends the production of heat tolerant crop varieties, mulching, water management, shade house, boundary trees, carbon sequestration,[3] and appropriate housing and spacing for cattle.[4] CSA seeks to stabilize crop production while mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change while maximizing food security.[5][6]

There are attempts to mainstream CSA into core government policies, expenditures and planning frameworks. In order for CSA policies to be effective, they must be able to contribute to broader economic growth, the sustainable development goals and poverty reduction. They must also be integrated with disaster risk management strategies, actions, and social safety net programmes.[7]


CSA has three components: increasing agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing or removing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

Carbon farming

Carbon farming is one of the components of climate-smart agriculture and aims at reducing or removing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. .

Carbon farming is a name for a variety of agricultural methods aimed at sequestering atmospheric carbon into the soil and in crop roots, wood and leaves. The aim of carbon farming is to increase the rate at which carbon is sequestered into soil and plant material with the goal of creating a net loss of carbon from the atmosphere.[8] Increasing a soil's organic matter content can aid plant growth, increase total carbon content, improve soil water retention capacity[9] and reduce fertilizer use.[10] Carbon farming is one component of climate-smart agriculture.

Carbon emission reduction methods in agriculture can be grouped into two categories: reducing and displacing emissions and enhancing carbon sequestration. Reductions include increasing the efficiency of farm operations (e.g. more fuel-efficient equipment) and interrupting the natural carbon cycle.

Climate-smart agriculture and gender

See also: Climate change and gender

Woman picking peas in the Mount Kenya region, for the Two Degrees Up[11] project, to look at the impact of climate change on agriculture.

Men, women, boys, and girls are affected by climate change in different ways. To increase the effectiveness and sustainability of CSA interventions, they must be designed to address gender inequalities and discriminations against people at risk. Gender gap in agriculture implies that men and women farmers have varying access to resources to prepare for and respond to climate change. Women farmers are more prone to climate risk than men are. It has been reported that in developing countries, women have less access compared to men to productive resources, financial capital, and advisory services. They often tend to be excluded from decision making which may impact on their adoption of technologies and practices that could help them adapt to climatic conditions. A gender-responsive approach to CSA tries to identify and address the diverse constraints faced by men and women and recognizes their specific capabilities.[12] Climate-smart agriculture presents opportunities for women in agriculture to engage in sustainable production. There is need to level the field and CSA is an opportunity for women in agriculture to engage more productively.[13]

Methods and assessment

Food and Agriculture Organization

Strategies and methods for CSA should be specific to the local contexts where they are employed. They should include capacity-building for participants in order to offset the higher costs of implementation.[14]

CSA ... is in line with FAO’s vision for Sustainable Food and Agriculture and supports FAO’s goal to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and more sustainable.[2][15]

FAO has identified several tools for countries and individuals to assess, monitor and evaluate integral parts of CSA planning and implementation:[16]

  1. Modelling System for Agricultural Impacts of Climate Change (MOSAICC)
  2. Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model (GLEAM)
  3. Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture (SAFA) system[17]
  4. Economics and Policy Innovations for Climate-Smart Agriculture (EPIC)
  5. Ex-Ante Carbon-balance Tool (EX-ACT)
  6. Climate Risk Management (CRM)
  7. Gender mainstreaming
  8. Monitoring and Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Potential in Agriculture (MAGHG) project

European Union

The EU has promoted development of climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices[18] as part of the EU Green Deal Policy.[19] Contradictions surrounding practical value of CSA among consumers and suppliers may be the reason why the EU is lagging here compared to other areas of the world.[20] A critical assessment of progress was carried out using different multi-criteria indices covering socio-economic, technical and environmental factors.[21] The results indicated that the most advanced CSA countries within the EU are Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands while Cyprus, Greece and Portugal have the lowest levels of CSA penetration. Key factors included labor productivity, female ownership of farmland, level of education, degree of poverty and social exclusion, energy consumption/efficiency and biomass/crop productivity.

Global initiatives

AIM for Climate

The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate/AIM4C) is a 5-year initiative to 2025, organized jointly by the UN, US and UAE.[22] The objective is to rally around climate-smart agriculture and food system innovations. It has attracted some 500 government and non-government organizations around the world and about 10 billion USD from governments and 3 billion USD from other sources.[23] The initiative was introduced during COP-26 in Glasgow.[24]

Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)

The CGIAR as part of the AIM4C summit in May 2023 called for a number of actions:[25]

1. Integration of initiatives from the partner organizations

2. Enabling innovative financing

3. Production of radical policy and governance reform based on evidence

4. Promotion of project monitoring, evaluation, and learning

Global Roadmap to 2050 for Food and Agriculture

Global food systems GHG emissions in 2020 for different agriculture sectors in terms of gigatons of CO2 equivalents.

Several actors are involved in creating pathways towards net-zero emissions in global food systems.[26]

Four areas of focus relate to:

1. lowered GHG-emission practices by increasing production efficiency

2. increased sequestration of carbon in croplands and grasslands

3. shifting of human diets away from livestock protein

4. taking on "new-horizon" technologies within the food systems

Livestock production (beef, pork, chicken, sheep and milk) alone accounts for 60% of total global food system GHG emissions.[26] Rice, maize and wheat stand for 25% of the global emissions from food systems.


The greatest concern with CSA is that no universally acceptable standard exists against which those who call themselves "climate-smart" are actually acting climate smart. Until those certifications are created and met, skeptics are concerned that big businesses will just continue to use the name to ‘greenwash’ their organizations—or provide a false sense of environmental stewardship.[27] CSA can be seen as a meaningless label that is applicable to virtually anything, and this is deliberate as it is meant to conceal the social, political and environmental implications of the different technology choices.

In 2014 The Guardian reported that climate-smart agriculture had been criticised as a form of greenwashing.[28]

See also


  1. ^ "Climate-Smart Agriculture". World Bank. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  2. ^ a b "Climate-Smart Agriculture". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2019-06-19. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  3. ^ Das, Sharmistha; Chatterjee, Soumendu; Rajbanshi, Joy (2022-01-20). "Responses of soil organic carbon to conservation practices including climate-smart agriculture in tropical and subtropical regions: A meta-analysis". Science of the Total Environment. 805: 150428. Bibcode:2022ScTEn.805o0428D. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150428. ISSN 0048-9697. PMID 34818818. S2CID 240584637.
  4. ^ Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). "What is Climate Smart Agriculture?" (PDF). Retrieved 2022-06-04.
  5. ^ Gupta, Debaditya; Gujre, Nihal; Singha, Siddhartha; Mitra, Sudip (2022-11-01). "Role of existing and emerging technologies in advancing climate-smart agriculture through modeling: A review". Ecological Informatics. 71: 101805. doi:10.1016/j.ecoinf.2022.101805. ISSN 1574-9541. S2CID 252148026.
  6. ^ Lipper, Leslie; McCarthy, Nancy; Zilberman, David; Asfaw, Solomon; Branca, Giacomo (2018). Climate Smart Agriculture Building Resilience to Climate Change. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. p. 13. ISBN 978-3-319-61193-8.
  7. ^ "Climate-Smart Agriculture Policies and planning". Archived from the original on 2016-03-31.
  8. ^ Nath, Arun Jyoti; Lal, Rattan; Das, Ashesh Kumar (2015-01-01). "Managing woody bamboos for carbon farming and carbon trading". Global Ecology and Conservation. 3: 654–663. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2015.03.002. ISSN 2351-9894.
  9. ^ "Carbon Farming | Carbon Cycle Institute". www.carboncycle.org. Archived from the original on 2021-05-21. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  10. ^ Almaraz, Maya; Wong, Michelle Y.; Geoghegan, Emily K.; Houlton, Benjamin Z. (2021). "A review of carbon farming impacts on nitrogen cycling, retention, and loss". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1505 (1): 102–117. doi:10.1111/nyas.14690. ISSN 0077-8923. S2CID 238202676.
  11. ^ "Two Degrees Up: climate change photofilms". ccafs.cgiar.org. 2013-06-18. Retrieved 2023-08-14.
  12. ^ "How to integrate gender issues in climate-smart agriculture projects" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-10-21.
  13. ^ World Bank Group; FAO; IFAD (2015). "Gender in Climate-Smart Agriculture".
  14. ^ The State of Food and Agriculture Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (PDF). Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2016. pp. 43–66. ISBN 978-92-5-109374-0.
  15. ^ "CLIMATE-SMART AGRICULTURE Sourcebook" (PDF). Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations. 2013.
  16. ^ "Climate-Smart Agriculture Methods & Assessments". Archived from the original on 2016-04-07.
  17. ^ "Sustainability Pathways: FAQ".
  18. ^ https://ec.europa.eu/eip/agriculture/sites/default/files/eip-agri_brochure_climate-smart_agriculture_2021_en_web_final.pdf
  19. ^ "European Green Deal". climate.ec.europa.eu. 14 July 2021. Retrieved 2023-08-13.
  20. ^ Long, Thomas B.; Blok, Vincent; Coninx, Ingrid (2016-01-20). "Barriers to the adoption and diffusion of technological innovations for climate-smart agriculture in Europe: evidence from the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Italy". Journal of Cleaner Production. 112: 9–21. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.06.044. ISSN 0959-6526.
  21. ^ Morkunas, Mangirdas; Volkov, Artiom (2023-06-01). "The Progress of the Development of a Climate-smart Agriculture in Europe: Is there Cohesion in the European Union?". Environmental Management. 71 (6): 1111–1127. doi:10.1007/s00267-022-01782-w. ISSN 1432-1009. PMID 36648532. S2CID 255941160.
  22. ^ "AIM for Climate". www.aimforclimate.org. Retrieved 2023-08-13.
  23. ^ National, The (2023-05-11). "Biden hails UAE partnership for advancing agricultural innovation and improving lives". The National. Retrieved 2023-08-13.
  24. ^ Service, SME News (2023-07-18). "Insight: AIM4C – Revolutionising Agriculture for Climate Resilience and Food Security". Sustainability Middle East News. Retrieved 2023-08-13.
  25. ^ "Enabling innovation for breakthroughs in agriculture: Key recommendations as the AIM for Climate Summit kicks off". CGIAR. Retrieved 2023-08-13.
  26. ^ a b Costa, Ciniro; Wollenberg, Eva; Benitez, Mauricio; Newman, Richard; Gardner, Nick; Bellone, Federico (2022-09-05). "Roadmap for achieving net-zero emissions in global food systems by 2050". Scientific Reports. 12 (1): 15064. Bibcode:2022NatSR..1215064C. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-18601-1. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 9442557. PMID 36065006.
  27. ^ "The Debate Over 'Climate-Smart' Agriculture". Archived from the original on 2016-04-28.
  28. ^ Anderson, Teresa (17 October 2014). "Why 'climate-smart agriculture' isn't all it's cracked up to be". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-07-26 – via www.theguardian.com.