Climate Change

Climate Smart Territories organize communities to manage the ecosystem

By Marianela Arguello and Mary Coffman 

Ultimately, success in conservation efforts largely depends on decisions and actions by communities that live in and benefit from different ecosystem services.

Farmer Field School in the Trifinio Territory; participative learning mechanisms are key elements of Climate Smart Territories. Photo credit: Maicon BarreraClimate Smart Territories (CSTs) are social and geographical spaces where actors collaboratively manage ecosystem services to equitably improve human well-being. They do so by continuously optimizing land use and engaging in activities to both stop/prevent further emissions and also adapt to climate change effects. This calls for collective efforts within a highly organized society.

The concept of CSTs is elaborated in chapter 6: Climate Smart Territories (CST): An integrated approach to food security, ecosystem services, and climate change in rural areas of the new book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice.

 CST approach is championed by CATIE (Tropical Agricultural and Higher Education Center) – an institution where decades of experience and commitment in the field have resulted in an integral vision for work in the territories. The book chapter brought together contributions from researchers and implementers in CATIE as well as strategic partners in Colombia.

The main objective of the chapter is to clearly explain the importance of the CSTs, their key elements and characteristics, as well as the way they differ in comparison to other territorial management approaches. The article presents clear examples of CSTs that have been carried out and are in the process of implementation in Huila, Colombia, and the Central American region, where the Mesoamerican Agro-Environmental Programme (MAP) works in the Trifinio and NicaCentral area.

Bastiaan Louman, leader of CATIE’s Climate Change and Watershed Programme, coordinated the study, and understands in great depth the essential aspects that need to be recognized in the CST approach; among them, that each farm or forest is part of something larger, making collaborative actions fundamental.

 “The CST approach gives great importance to the organization of society, so that everything feels like part of the territory,” Louman says. He explained that through CATIE’s experience working in the field, it has been possible to see how the CSTs have helped to emphasize governance factors and the growth of people’s capacities to analyze their situation, and define answers to problems that they find and face through mutual contributions. The farmer field schools (FFS) where farmers learn from each other, the systematization of experiences, applied and collaborative research and the multi-stakeholder platforms are key elements in this process of strengthening capacities.

 “Capacities that combine technical and local knowledge need to be strengthened, but also, the organizational part needs to be strengthened so that in the future, residents can respond to new challenges, such as the ones faced every day with more force and frequency due to climate change,” added Louman.

In the example of the work being carried out by CATIE/MAP in the Trifinio and NicaCentral region many constructive results have evolved from local level collaborations with the farmers, learning in conjunction with researchers, change agents, and producers, and making use of established local and regional platforms. These processes have strengthened the capacities that are needed to address critical issues at different geographical scales (such as ecosystem services) as well as increasing climate-smart practices.

Using this and other examples, the authors show that CST can be implemented successfully by first strengthening the communities resolve to CST so that the required changes can begin to take place. This implies the need for joint planning, monitoring and leadership; negotiation mechanisms; and, the use of systems to generate and share information related to climate and other natural resources.

Complex political and economic realities of being REDD ready

Scientists with the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forests Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre have published a special  issue in Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6, that focuses on the Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+, guest edited by Dr Peter Minang and Dr Meine van Noordwijk.  All articles in this special issue are available for free as “open access” publications.

According to the special issue, the process of REDD+ readiness is shaped by a host of complex political and economic factors largely influenced by the national environment, history and circumstances specific to each country.

“The game changes at country level, and the process has to account for complex political and economic realities involving multiple actors, institutions, political and sectoral ideologies that require an iterative, rather than a simple linear, global process,” says Dr Peter Minang, one of the special issue editors.

Read entire blog from Climate Strategies and climate policy journal blog.

Evidence on adaptation-mitigation synergy at UN climate talks

By Elizabeth Kahurani

At the ongoing UN climate talks in Lima, Peru, the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD), Ministry of Agriculture and The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) joined hands at an official side event to provide scientific evidence and guidance on the issue of synergy between adaptation and mitigation.

In defining the synergy concept, Dr Lalisa Duguma of ICRAF said that usually, “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” thus reaching for optimal benefits derived from the two interventions in a way that neither would have achieved independently.

From a study that developed a framework for assessing potential areas for synergy, and applied in developing countries, Dr Duguma noted that most countries were moving towards synergy with a high score on institutional setup although much remains to be seen in terms of implementation for most countries. Read related article

Indonesia is among the exception. The country is implementing several strategies to link adaptation and mitigation in agriculture and peatlands. One of this is the Integrated Crop -Livestock Farming System (ICLS) that is being applied in a rainfed lowland rice  area  of Central Java. According to Dr. Wihardjaka of IAARD, the system significantly improves the productivity of rainfed lowland rice, provides higher  profits and increases resilience of agriculture to climate change. It at the same time reduces greenhouse gas emissions particularly carbon dioxide and methane.

Activities to implement ICLS include “use of direct seeding technique, recycling of organic wastes, crop planting calendar, pest management control, efficient use of fertilizer, water management and control, and high yielding rice variety with low methane emission,” says Dr Wihardjaka. It also involves utilizing natural resources such as biogas for household use, biocompost as fertilizer and  biopesticides that effectively use solar radiation.

“An integrated cropping calendar helps farmers to adapt to unpredictable weather patterns as it acts as a tool for rainfall forecast, provide recommendation for planting time, planting area, risk areas to flood, drought, pests and diseases,” says Mr Fadhlullah Ramadhani also from IAARD. “In fact, it helps to make decisions on fertilizer, seed and pesticide distribution as well as water requirements. We administered multi-channel delivery system including the use of facebook, android, SMS, and Google+” added Mr. Ramadhani. “With the multi-faceted climatic threats, cropping calendar is one among the many adaptation actions being developed and implemented in Indonesia. Other actions include development  of hardy high- yielding varieties, soil and water conservation and crop rotation” added Dr Fahmuddin Agus from IAARD.  

Another source of emissions in Indonesia is degraded peatland. It covers around   25% of the 15 Mha Indonesian peatland area and their high emission potential is exacerbated by the risk of fires. However, this land can profitably be converted for crop production without worsening the environment.

Dr Fahmudin Agus of IAARD and his team conducted a study on viability of agricultural production on peatland. “We found that when properly managed, crop production on peatland is comparable to that of mineral land, and it is quite profitable with an estimated net present value of USD 315 to 4421 per hectare per year,” he says. However, initial investment can be tall order for smallholder farmers. He therefore urges for policy measures that provide incentives to these farmers that could include, “secure and  (semi) permanent land tenure; subsidies for initial investment, especially for smallholder rubber plantation; infrastructure, including drainage canals and water table control system; high quality planting materials and fertilizers; and technical support. Rehabilitation of degraded peatland must be coupled with strict regulatory measures for conserving the remaining  peat forest”.

To objectively determine how such climate change actions as those in Indonesia can be scaled up and applied to different contexts, it is important to know the extent to which countries are ready to implement through policy frameworks provided by the UN processes such REDD.

Dr Peter Minang of ICRAF led a study that developed a framework for assessing REDD readiness in different countries and that can be used to objectively make cross-cutting comparisons. When applied to four countries –Peru, Cameroon, Indonesia and Vietnam, all the countries seem to have adopted most of the UN climate commitment REDD processes and made the required submissions. However, only Indonesia had backed this up with a national policy on REDD linked to the country’s economic strategy, although Vietnam also seem to be making progress with a benefit sharing framework in place. “Most countries scored poorly on benefit sharing; monitoring, reporting and verification; audit and financing,” says Dr Minang. Read related article

Peru is making progress with the launch of their national adaptation and mitigation plans (NAMAs) at the UNFCCC COP 20. Dr Valentina Robiglio of ICRAF was involved in providing technical support to the process. At the IAARD-ICRAF event, she described the NAMA process and how this can be locally adapted especially to cacao production. See presentation.

The Director General of ICRAF, Prof Tony Simons, was moderating the session and concluded by emphasizing the importance of having evidence feed into the official UNFCCC negotiations particularly to influence the formal inclusion of agriculture in these debates.


See presentations

Integrated crop-livestock farming system (ICLS) on rainfed lowland rice for sustainable agriculture

Synergies between Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: National Level Experiences

Improving   the profits   from peatland without exacerbating the environmental impacts

Integrated cropping calendar for adapting to erratic rainfall pattern

Climate-smart landscapes make business sense to the private sector

By Elizabeth Kahurani

The private sector is an important actor with great potential to inject financial resources, technology and expertise into climate smart initiatives that target sustainable development.

These private companies are looking into ways and strategies for effective engagement out of realization that their existence depends on finite ecosystem services; and also due to an increase in awareness among consumers who demand environmental accountability in the production process, as well as the need to maintain good company reputation through social responsibility.

This not withstanding, their main drive is to make profit, and as such, rules of engagement with these private entities have to make business sense.Vision for Change demonstration plots in Kragui in Côte d’Ivoire. The project aims to revitalise cocoa using a landscape approach that also targets to improve the environment, social aspects and livelihoods. Photo credit: World Agroforestry Centre

In a new book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice to be released this week on the sidelines of UNFCCC COP 20 in Lima, Peru, three chapters expound on private sector involvement in landscape approaches using case studies that highlight among others the need to i) present business case studies to motivate the private sector, ii) enhance sustainability in agriculture supply chains and iii) use production standards and certification as a means to private sector engagement in integrated landscape management approach.

Presenting a business case will entail a shift from the current focus of analyzing environmental costs exclusively, to developing analytical tools, methodologies and frameworks that account for both the natural capital and the business financial goals. It is a process that involves integrating ecosystem services analysis with frameworks that drive corporate decision making strategies.

Examples of initiatives making strides in this direction include the Natural Capital Coalition guide that recommends ways accountants can frame risks and opportunities in business terms and embed natural capital into corporate decision-making. “There is also the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership that has developed the Biodiversity Risk and Opportunity Assessment (BROA) tool to assess risks and opportunities of depending on biodiversity and ecosystem services at the landscape scale for companies with agricultural supply chains,” says Dr Namirembe.

“However, to remain viable, such holistic analysis of both natural and business capital needs to be accompanied by conducive policy regulations and institutional frameworks,” says Dr Sara Namirembe of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

She explains this in the context of Sasumua water shed in Kenya.  “Although a conducive business case exists (about $122,924/year Net Present Value) for Nairobi City Water Company (NWCS) to use payment of ecosystem services with upland farmers to reduce sedimentation of the Sasumua reservoir, it cannot be operationalized because of barriers in existing legal and institutional frameworks. NWCS already pays watershed management fees to the Water Resource Management Authority. Although a section of consumers in Nairobi were willing to pay more in their water bill to finance watershed conservation, the mandate to increase tariffs and is not the NWSC, but with the water services regulatory board.”

Sustainable business agricultural supply chains

A Landscape approach can be useful in promoting sustainability in business supply chains particularly within the agriculture sector. Supply chains refers to all those factors, processes and actors involved from the production, all through to the consumption of goods and services. A landscape approach to such a system would make the businesses involved look beyond their unit area of production and the profits thereof to encompass economic, environmental, social and other livelihood aspects. It would mean balancing the need for high production with reducing negative impacts on the environment; avoiding child labor; and ensuring farmers get higher wages for their produce.

“Business supply chains should seek a landscape approach as it not only assures sustainability but it also helps them mitigate reputational and operational risks,” says Dr Amos Gyau of ICRAF. “By supporting a sustainable ecosystem from the production source, they gain consumer confidence and promote continuous supply of high quality products. Failure to maintain natural capital at source leads to poor quality and eventual depletion of raw materials,” he adds.

Another important benefit of embracing landscape approach in supply chains is that it creates space to form new partnerships and establish collaborations with the public sector and other players in a way that spreads risks and complements efforts.

The Vision for Change (V4C) project financed by Mars Inc. and implemented by ICRAF is one model using landscape approach towards business supply chain sustainability. It aims to revitalize the cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire while at the same time addressing environmental concerns by promoting trees on farms; and social aspects by eliminating child labor and making cocoa production more attractive to younger farmers through income diversification.

Dr Gyau and his colleagues recommend tools for implementing a sustainable landscape approach in business supply chains. These include: regional producer support programmes with activities such as risk assessment, information sharing on one or more commodities that require going beyond the farm level. There are also multistakeholder dialogues like the UN Global Compact, which is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that commit to uphold principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.  Tools on certification standards can be used to implement both vertical integration through buyer-supplier relationship in which contracted farmers meet certain standards in production and horizontal integration whereby businesses handling similar commodities merge to enjoy economies of scale.

In a related chapter, Gabrielle Kissinger of Lexeme Consulting and his colleagues expound on the use of certification standards to integrated land management and explore methodologies using various case studies. They highlight product certification standards as useful because they require evaluation of a business performance beyond production to its impact on the surrounding environment. But the main challenge is that most systems are designed for assessment within the property boundary.

Read more on these case studies in Part 4 of the book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice: Involving the Private Sector

Landscape democracy to capture complexity



Contact - (Lima, Peru) +254 721 537627;

Contact – (Lima, Peru) +254 708 159934

Contact – (Nairobi, Kenya) +254 717718387;; ; 

Managing landscapes effectively in the face of climate change means untangling a host of complications

Today, scientists are looking at the world in terms of landscapes, which are units of the environment with some common theme. It is no good studying a lake unless the forest above it that supplies water is considered, along with the people that fish in the lake and use its water for agriculture. Landscapes can be small, like a valley, or enormous, like the Serengeti plains. But even the simplest landscape can have many different populations, uses and values, all of which might be competing with each other.

How can all these needs be satisfied, while conserving the landscape for the future? A book entitled ‘Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality In Practice’ which will be launched by the World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya, on the fringes of the Global Landscapes Forum in Lima, Peru on 7 December, goes some way towards answering the question.

To feed a projected population of more than 9 billion by 2050, food production must grow by more than 50 percent. Growing competition over fixed land resources means that economically attractive land uses triumph over those that are more valuable from a society perspective, but less profitable for a private land user.

Landscapes in the tropics and subtropics are at the heart of this competition for land, partly because they have the highest population growth as well as increases in agricultural land. As a result, planning of land use can no longer be the business of single interests, but needs to involve all interested parties. Hence, the increasing requirement for an approach to the landscape that will satisfy everyone’s needs yet maintain the different functions going on in the landscape while conserving it for the future, that is, making it sustainable.

This is already a complicated challenge. Traditionally, scientists would address a complex problem by breaking it down into its component parts and addressing them one at a time. This does not work in a landscape, which typically has any number of stakeholders with different perspectives, interests, power and ambitions, which can often be conflicting. “Multifunctionality’ in a landscape is about seeking to achieve many different objectives at the same time,” said Peter Minang, one of the editors of the book and Global Coordinator of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. “Planning land use can no longer be the business of single interests, but needs to involve all interested parties. Hence the increasing requirement for a landscape approach.”

Complicating this situation even further is the problem of climate change. Agriculture produces a lot of ‘greenhouse’ gases that speed up climate change. There is a worldwide movement now to create ‘climate-smart’ agriculture, which reduces the amount of greenhouse gases produced yet still allows farmers to grow food and make a profit, while preparing for the effects that climate change might have on them, like rising temperatures that increase diseases in their crops.

“Sustainable multifunctional landscapes is a common destination that can be reached from many possible starting points,” said Meine van Noordwijk, Chief Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre. Once the wider range of options and perspectives are understood, it is possible to influence the various tradeoffs between functions and stakeholders in different and potentially better ways.”

“In the tea-growing landscape of Kericho in Kenya, governmental bodies, farmer and community organizations, and private sector tea producers, have come together to define key investments for a climate-smart landscape,” said Jeffrey C. Milder, the Rainforest Alliance’s lead scientist and chief advisor for biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. “This process identified landscape planning and coordination as among the most strategic opportunities, requiring modest investment while aligning existing activities across the landscape to improve tea productivity, watershed health, and biodiversity.”

“Despite evolving institutions governing land and trees in Cameroon, disputes over land and forest rights have grown rather than diminished, leading to changing land use patterns and in some cases increasing land degradation,” said Divine Foundjem-Tita, a marketing scientist based at the World Agroforestry Centre’s Yaounde office. “The main message in this case study is that formal, informal or hybrid institutions are indispensable features in landscapes, and are crucial to landscape management, as they shape the patterns and functions of landscapes.”

“For current landscapes to move towards their full potential, all the interested parties have to agree on a vision for change,” summed up Peter Minang. “This democratic approach will allow climate-smart landscapes to contribute meaningfully to sustainable development.”


The book, Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multi-functionality in Practice will be launched on the sidelines of the UNFCCC COP 20 in Lima, Peru during the Global Landscapes Forum on Saturday, 6 December 2014 at 12.15pm, MEDIA ROOM


About the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) 

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is a leading, international science-based research and development institution in the tropics, and a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).  For 30 years, the World Agroforestry Centre and its partners have worked with poor rural farmers throughout the tropics to develop innovative agroforestry-based practices that help them manage their limited resources.  The Centre’s vision is the transformation of lives and landscapes across the developing world through massive use of trees and agroforestry innovations. Its mission is to generate science-based knowledge about the diverse role trees play in agricultural landscapes and use its research to advance policies and practices to benefit the poor and the environment. For more information, go to or follow ICRAF on Twitter @ICRAF 


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