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3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture. Montpellier, 16-18 March 2015. © INRA

Towards COP21: scientists promote Climate-Smart Agriculture to tackle climate change

Climate-Smart Agriculture offers the opportunity to design best options to tackle food security as well as to reach a resilient agriculture that also contributes to mitigating climate change. This is a common conviction shared by the scientific community that convened at the 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture, held in Montpellier, France on 16-18 March 2015. Scientists agree there is a need to involve all stakeholders; to connect science and policy; that scientists and farmers should liaise, so that the necessary agricultural transitions shall be implemented to face the challenges in the coming years.

Updated on 07/03/2017
Published on 03/18/2015

More than 700 participants coming from 75 different countries around the world convened at the 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Montpellier, France, 16-18 March 2015 to share their experience and agree on global and specific research agendas. The conference gathered representatives from scientific organizations, national and international governmental organizations, farmers’ associations, industries, NGOs and civil society.

Today, agriculture is at a crossroad. Climate change already affects negatively food production while expectations for the sector are to meet a demand for food that will change tremendously within only 40 years, and strongly reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are largely embedded in the biological processes of agricultural production. “Failure to reach this target would further reduce food security and degrade the climate” comments Jean-François Soussana, Scientific Director for Environment at INRA, and Chair of Scientific Committee of the conference.

Climate smart agriculture (CSA) is a concept launched five years ago to mobilize the scientific and stakeholder communities to tackle simultaneously the climate change adaptation and mitigation, the food security challenges and to address future trade-offs. Based on the evidence that climate change already seriously impacts agriculture and will particularly affect vulnerable farmers and countries, and because we enter a world full of unknowns, scientists alert upon the need to mobilize all relevant knowledge to act now to prepare the future. They also urge to identify the questions that will be central in 20 to 30 years’ time and which require research and foresight investments as from today.

Delegates from the conference also stress that CSA solutions already exist and can be implemented provided there is a clear commitment from relevant stakeholders. “Let’s keep in mind that agricultural transition will act as one of the main levers for other sectors, because of its linkages with employment, energy, food, health, nutrition and environment”, says Patrick Caron, Director General at CIRAD, and Chair of the Organizing Committtee of the conference.

During the conference, the French Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Stéphane Le Foll announced public subsidies will be available for an international research project on the restoration of degraded soils and soil carbon sequestration, a major option that can support the three pillars of CSA (adaptation, mitigation, food security).

Climate negotiations are gradually recognizing the potential for transitions in agriculture. Through CSA, the scientific community can engage beyond frontiers developing the interfaces with stakeholders and policy makers and promoting scientific diplomacy.

Science can actually help in changing the perception of a burden into evidence-based conviction that there are feasible solutions. The priority given to agricultural transitions should be a head start for policy action on climate change. The next step is to contribute to the COP 21 in Paris!

The 3rd global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture is organized by Cirad, Inra, IRD and Agropolis International in close partnership with CGIAR, the University of Wageningen, the University of Davis, FAO and GFAR. The conference is financially supported by the French Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, the region of Languedoc-Roussillon, the Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, LabEx Agro and CeMEB.

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