Adaptation, resilience and climate smart agriculture - from concepts to action
Meinke, H and Baethgen, W and Meza, F and Campbell, B, Adaptation, resilience and climate smart agriculture - from concepts to action, 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture 2015, 16-18 March 2015, Montpellier, France (2015) [Keynote Presentation]
Issues such as ‘sustainable agricultural production’, ‘food security’ and ‘climate change’ are considered wicked problems, i.e. issues that are innately resistant to solutions and that will only ever be partly resolved. This is exemplified by agricultural practices that often lead to unintended environmental or social consequences due to complex chains of cause and effect. We argue that attempting to advance such issues through the further development of well-considered conceptual frameworks such as ‘adaptation’, ‘resilience’ or ‘climate smart agriculture’ is an important step to ensure rigour and robustness in our thinking but has limited practical application. If practice change is the aim, it might best be achieved through modesty (‘a partial or temporary solution constitutes good progress’), honesty (‘win-win solutions are rare; we must be honest about inevitable trade-offs’) and courage (a willingness to make decisions in the face of uncertainty and unresolved contention). Many on-the-ground constraints are the consequence of imperfect value chains that lack good governance, transparency and equity coupled with imperfect market signals and knowledge systems. Transparency and increased knowledge dissemination throughout the food system value chain will change the dynamics of problems and can provide partial solutions along the way. We will highlight these issues by telling the story of two very different farmer groups: smallholder rice farmers on the peri-urban fringe in Vietnam and dairy farmers in Tasmania. While their socioeconomic and biophysical environments couldn’t be more different, both groups find themselves as the instigators and the recipients of transformational changes. The examples will highlight why and how understanding their innate adaptive capacity, resilience and their ability to act ‘climate smart’ can help in improving these systems. We conclude that while business does not conform to theoretical paradigms, concepts such as ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘innovation’ contain key elements of adaptation and resilience. Mutual understanding and a set of highly context-specific proxy indicators for academic frameworks can improve the transparency and governance of value chains, improve our knowledge systems and hence, lead to impact.