By Elizabeth Kahurani
combating climate change, interventions have mainly been channeled through two
approaches – mitigation and adaptation. Activities to mitigate climate change
include actions that reduce greenhouse gases and prevent further emissions. Adaptation
refers to activities geared towards helping vulnerable communities already
affected by climate change cope and build resilience.Pioneers of Ngitili system in Tanzania discuss how it works. Synergy between adaptation and mitigation ensures various stakeholders and sectors are involved.
having intertwined objectives, the two practices were initially framed and have
largely been pursued separately, leading to a lack of effectiveness and
efficiency in concerted climate change actions.
to link the two interventions have been through a complementary approach
whereby if mitigation is the main intervention, a project ensures there are
adaptation co-benefits alongside. But according to Dr Lalisa Duguma and his
colleagues from the ASB Partnership at
the World Agroforestry Centre,
these attempts are only halfway through the journey to effectively address the
just released journal article with the title, Climate
Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the Land Use Sector: From Complementarity
to Synergy, published in Environmental
Management, the scientists argue that it is not just enough for the two climate
approaches to complement each other. To achieve efficiency and effectiveness,
it is important to have synergy between the two interventions.
What is synergy?
study describes two forms of synergy: i) Additive
synergy where in our case, the
outcome would be realized from the individual independent effects of the
mitigation and adaptation interventions; and ii) Non-additive synergy that can further be achieved in three categories,
but here we focus on the super additive
category that would be achieved if the outcome from interactions between the
two interventions is greater than that gained from having the interventions act
independent of each other. In this case, ‘the
whole is greater than the sum of the parts.’
Synergy in mitigation and adaptation measures allows for use of resources that are related and complementary, particularly in the land use sector where the resource is limited in certain regions such as in the developing nations.“We
recommend the super-additive synergy
model in climate change as it increases efficiency, and it is cost effective. It
takes advantage of the fact that resources involved in mitigation and
adaptation measures are related and complementary, particularly in the
land use sector where the resource is limited in certain regions like in the
developing nations,” says Dr Duguma.
further explains that the model is a step forward from the co-benefit based
complementary approach as it targets to address priority problems of a
particular area through a system-wide overhaul lens.
gives critical attention to system integrity and functionality necessitating
the involvement of various stakeholders and sectors in an effort to reduce the
possible tradeoffs due to their varying activities. This is in contrast with
the top-down approach of having mitigation and adaptation complement with one being
a co-benefit of the other.
and climate smart agriculture are among given examples of avenues to pursue synergy
in agricultural landscapes, while those with a complementary approach would be
in instances where a forest is established/conserved to sequester carbon or
reduce emissions due to deforestation, but with other benefits of regulating
climate and or being a habitat for wildlife.
Achieving mitigation-adaptation synergy
Peter Minang’, a co-author in the study notes that the study developed four
elements needed to move from complementarity to synergy.
there is need to identify practices
such as agroforestry that have strong interconnectedness of adaptation and
mitigation; then move to understanding
the processes needed to activate synergy such as having the right
institutions and funding mechanisms in place, as well as involving various
measure involves addressing tradeoffs
between mitigation and adaptation. This is best illustrated in a case where
tree species used in reforestation consume a lot of water, limiting availability
of the commodity to the surrounding communities.
national and local policies that
provide a framework to actualize these measures and give necessary incentives
for private sector and community involvement are proposed as the basis for actualizing
synergy in a holistic, system-wide approach.
Tanzania, the Ngitili system, a
national intervention to deal with desertification through tree regeneration
and conservation is one example where climate change has been addressed through
a multifunctional approach without looking at the intervening efforts as either
being mitigation or adaptation. The system has also had significant economic
benefits to the local communities. Read
can realize synergy in adaptation and mitigation at a global scale, however
certain challenges have to be addressed,” says Dr Meine van Noordwijk, who is
also a co-author in the study. These challenges include the current
international framing of mitigation and adaptation as separate interventions,
the view that mitigation is the best way to achieve adaptation, the lack of
proper methodologies for analyzing the synergy approach, and uncertainties on
which practices can be optimized to give maximum synergy benefits. He is quick to add though that these are
challenges to be addressed through continuous dialogue at global, national and
subnational policy levels and increased research studies on the subject.
the article on open access:
Duguma, L. A.,
Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M. 2014. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
in the Land Use Sector: From Complementarity to Synergy. Environmental
Management. DOI: 10.1007/s00267-014-0331-x
more on a framework of conditions necessary for synergy
This work is linked to the
CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry