At the end of last month, the U.N. held a one-day Climate Summit in New York City. The day was a pre-curser to next year’s 21st Conference of the Parties on Climate Change 2015 that will take place in Paris. From what I understand, the NYC summit focused on identifying the major challenges we’re facing with climate change and mentioned some possible solutions. The longer Paris summit will attempt to provide more solutions and specific ideas on how to implement them.

In conjunction with the NYC summit, the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture held its inaugural meeting. Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is not a new term, but it’s not one I’ve heard used often until now. That will be changing, so it’s probably a good idea to get a handle on what it is.

CSA has specific goals to improve agriculture, food security and nutrition. The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart’s Action Statement begins with facts about food insecurity. It points out that while there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, one in eight people on our planet is undernourished. It also sets up food security and good nutrition for everyone as an urgent challenge as well as a human right.

There’s a relationship between climate change and food security, and so the task at hand, says the Alliance, is “to dramatically scale up efforts to make agriculture more resilient.” The efforts will be focused on agriculture of all types and scales, and there are three specific goals.

  • Sustainable and equitable increases in agricultural productivity and incomes
  • Greater resilience of food systems and farming livelihoods
  • Reduction and or/removal of greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture (including the relationship between agriculture and ecosystems), wherever possible
Countries, organizations and businesses from around the world signed the action statement, including the United States. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack were there for the launch, and Vilsack made a statement about the need for CSA at the inaugural meeting.
Farmers, ranchers and other producers in the U.S. and around the world are feeling the impact of climate change now. They are experiencing production challenges from extended droughts, more severe flooding, stronger storms, and new pests and diseases. The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture offers the opportunity to collaboratively share knowledge, make investments and develop policies that will empower all producers to adapt to climate change and to mitigate its consequences. Long term global food security depends on us acting together now.”
In a nutshell, Climate-Smart Agriculture has to do with: investing in new farming methods to make them efficient yet environmentally sound as climate change happens; improving the livelihoods of farmers; making sure everyone has adequate, nutritious food; and curbing the effects that agriculture has on the climate. Ambitious, but worthy and important, goals.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.