“In Nicaragua, ‘no-regrets’ adaptation started with the details that science could provide, which is more than enough to keep policy-makers up at night,” said Peter Laderach, a climate scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), based in Managua. “In planning for climate change, we face all of these variables and uncertainties, but sometimes what we do know matters most. By embracing these certainties, we can help these farmers weather the coming storm and protect a vital source of income.”
Other Nations Step Forward as Vulnerabilities Take Shape
As short-term and long-range agriculture forecasts reveal disturbing trends, especially in developing countries, many decision-makers acknowledge the critical importance of moving forward with climate adaptation.
For example, in Kenya, rain-fed agriculture contributes more than one-quarter of the GDP. Recent droughts have left millions without access to adequate food and slowed the nation’s economic growth by an annual average of 2.8 percent between 2008 and 2011. In March 2013, after an extensive consultation process that engaged most sectors of society, Kenya formally launched its national climate change action plan.
“In Kenya, as well as in many countries in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, climate change is a critical policy priority,” said James Kinyangi, Regional Program Leader for CCAFS in East Africa. “It is imperative for developing nations to embrace the adaptation planning process and for industrialized countries to unlock much-needed funding support so that this planning fast tracks climate adaptation actions.”
“Some farmers and countries are going to need to make big transitions in what food they produce,” concluded Vermeulen. “Science is now reaching a point where it will be able to provide advice on when – not just whether – major climatic shifts relevant to agriculture will happen. Helping governments and farmers plan ahead will make all the difference in avoiding the food insecurity and suffering that climate change threatens.”
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The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is a strategic partnership of Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and Future Earth, led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). CCAFS brings together the world’s best researchers in agricultural science, development research, climate science and earth system science, to identify and address the most important interactions, synergies and trade-offs between climate change, agriculture and food security. For more information, visit www.ccafs.cgiar.org.