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Open letter from civil society on the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture

In this open letter a large number of civil society organisations present a critique of the use of ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’, a concept that is gaining increasing attention among governments, NGOs, academics, corporations and in international policy. They state that they have concerns around the aims of the 'Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture' to establish policies to enable farming to deal with the impacts of climate change.

The concept of ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ was developed by the FAO and the World Bank, claiming that ‘triple wins’ in agriculture could be achieved in mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation (supporting crops to grow in changing climate conditions), and increasing crop yields. But these organisations argue that there is growing confusion and debate over what the term really means, what it can achieve, what is new about it, and whether it really can benefit food systems in the face of climate change. They are afraid that the term can be used to green-wash agricultural practices that will harm future food production, such as industrial agriculture practices or soil carbon offsetting.

Signatories include organisations such as Oxfam, ActionAid, Third World Network and Greenpeace.

Read the open letter here and see the report from ActionAid titled Clever Name, Losing Game? - How Climate Smart Agriculture is sowing confusion in the food movement, here. You can also find more information from FAO and CCAFS on the need for Climate-Smart Agriculture here and here.

The official launch and inaugural meeting of the Global Alliance will be held September 23-24th, at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit. See more information on this here and here.  You can also read more about what to expect on Agriculture at the UN climate conference here.

For discussion of similar debates around sustainable intensification see this FCRN report “Sustainable intensification of agriculture – premises and policies” together with a summary of responses to the report here.

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