Implementing Climate-Smart Agriculture with CSA 101 online Guide

Climate-Smart Agriculture 101 gateway will help you get started to plan your food productivity, to support equitable increases in your farm incomes, food security and development, and guide you right through to implementation on the ground, connecting you with all the resources you need to dig deeper.

“There are still about 800 million undernourished and 1 billion malnourished people in the world. At the same time, more than 1.4 billion adults are overweight and 1/3 of all food produced is wasted. Before 2050, the global population is expected to swell to more than 9.7 billion people” (United Nations 2015) and it is estimated we will require 60% more food production by 2050 (World Agriculture Towards 2030/2050).

“Agriculture is uniquely placed to propel people out of poverty. Agricultural growth is often the most effective and equitable strategy for both reducing poverty and increasing food security (CCSFS, FAO, 2014)”.

“Partners of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative call for political leaders at COP21 to make the most obvious data open; "farmers need weather data in order to adapt to climate change” (GODAN, Climate Smart Agriculture and Open Data at COP21). 

The FAO defines climate-smart agriculture  (CSA) as “agriculture that sustainably increases agricultural  productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation) [of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels], reduces/removes greenhouse gas/GHGs (mitigation) where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”.

(Source: Climate smart agriculture)

In this definition, the principal goal of  CSA is identified as food security and sustainable agriculture development (including crops, livestock and fisheries). Productivity, adaptation, and mitigation are identified as three interlinked pillars necessary to achieve this goal while aiming at reducing/removing GHG  emissions and tackling the new challenges of climate change. In particular:

Productivity: CSA aims to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes from crops, livestock and fish, without having a negative impact on the environment. This, in turn, will raise food and nutritional security. A key concept related to raising productivity is sustainable intensification

Adaptation: CSA aims to reduce the exposure of farmers to short-term risks, while also strengthening their resilience by building their capacity to adapt and prosper in the face of shocks and longer-term stresses. Particular attention is given to protecting the  ecosystem services which ecosystems provide to farmers and others. These services are essential for maintaining productivity and our ability to adapt to climate changes.

Mitigation: Wherever and whenever possible, CSA should help to: reduce and/or remove GHG emissions for each calorie or kilo of food, fibre and fuel that we produce; to avoid deforestation from agriculture; to manage soils and trees in ways that maximizes their potential to acts as carbon sinks and absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) 101 provides all supporting information necessary to get started to implement CSA.

In particular, CSA 101 is a web portal (licensed  under a Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial–NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License) that presents CSA Guide to food security and sustainable development. The website was developed by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) for the World Bank in collaboration with a range of other partners and institutions, included  the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

CSA Guide is aimed at practitioners, decision-makers and researchers who work with or are interested in CSA.

An extensive portfolio of content, a highly visual design, and user friendly interface will allow users to find specific points of interest or follow the flow of information from the basics section, over entry points to CSA, CSA plan, CSA finance, a resource library and case studies.

All supporting information necessary to get started to implement  CSA has been carefully gathered and distributed into the following five clusters:

In particular,


 Section addresses the following issues:

What is climate-smart agriculture?

Why climate-smart agriculture?

How is CSA different from other sustainable agriculture approaches?

Besides, it is possible to have free access to Introductory Reading Material and Videos covering different facets of the CSA.


 Section provides free access to

numerous entry points for initiating CSA programmes or enhancing existing activities regarding productivity, mitigation and adaptation actions that can take place at different technological, organizational, institutional and political levels. These entry points are grouped under three Thematic Areas: (i) CSA practices, (ii) CSA systems approaches, and (iii) Enabling environments for CSA, as follows:






Soil management

Crop production

Water management

Livestock management

Forestry and agroforestry

Capture fisheries and aquaculture

Energy management



Landscape management

Value chains



Index-based insurance

Climate information services


Policy engagement

Institutional arrangements

Gender and social inclusion


Each entry point is then described and analysed in terms of productivity, adoption and mitigation potential and is illustrated with cases studies, references and internet links for further information.

Section  provides a guide for

CSA planning, implementation and monitoring at scale. CSA plan consists of four major components: (1) Situation Analysis, (2) Targeting And Prioritization, (3) Programme Support, (4) Monitoring, Evaluation And Learning.


In particular, Situation Analysis could be carried out using data that can be found in global databases (FAOSTAT, World Bank Data, European Data Portal), national databases, and agricultural sector and climate change policies such as National Action Plan for Adaptation (NAPAs), Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) and other national agricultural development and food security plans, national development plans, poverty reduction strategy papers, and natural resource management plans (where reference to the agricultural sector is made), etc. For many countries, detailed climate impact assessments can be found on the World Bank’s Climate Change Knowledge Portal. Identifying and evaluating both ongoing and promising agricultural practices can be done through literature reviews and inetrviews with key stakeholders.

This section provides also access to the information concerning a case study Climate-Smart Agriculture Country Profiles for Latin America and the Caribbean and to a number of tools, such as:

Targeting and Prioritization approaches narrow an extensive list of possible practices, services, and policies down to a range of best-bet options that can be scaled out, and which may serve to attract investment and funding.  The CCAFS-CIAT CSA Prioritization Framework (CSA-PF) - designed for channeling CSA investments and divided into four phases - has the objective to help decision makers identify best-bet CSA investment portfolios that achieve gains in food security, farmers’ resilience to climate change, and low-emissions development of the agriculture sector.

The Targeting and Prioritization section provides also access to the information concerning a case study Climate-Smart Solutions for Mali based on the adoption of the CSA-PF, and provides information to the following tools:

Programme Support – advocating five principles of co-design to ensure credibility, salience, and legitimacy of resulting products - describes selected approaches that exemplify the process or end products of CSA Plan:

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (ME&L) approach uses a simple three-step process to help determine which type of metrics, indicators, and monitoring approaches are suitable for a given context.

(Source: Simple decision tree to determine which use- case to select)


The “simple decision tree to determine which use- case to select” helps to determine the categories of relevant CSA indicators for the project lifecycle: (1) Readiness indicators; (2) Process indicators; (3) Progress/impact indicators. The ME&L section also describes select approaches, tools and cases that guide and exemplify an entire process or to facilitate specific elements of the project lifecycle.


 Section  offers an overview of 

potential sources of funding for activities in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) at national, regional and international levels and for a number of different potential ‘clients’ including governments, civil society, development organizations and others. Additionally, it includes options to search among a range of funding opportunities according to CSA focus area, sector and financing instrument.


 Section offers links to references and key resources

that allows for further investigations and understanding of specific topics of interest. References, Tools, Key terms, Frequently asked questions (FAQ) are gathered in one place for a quick overview and easy access that can be used as a part of or independently of the other sections of the website.

Last but not least.

Did you know that CSA is one of the 11 Corporate Areas for Resource Mobilization under the FAO’s Strategic Objectives? In particular, CSA “is in line with FAO’s vision for Sustainable Food and Agriculture and supports FAO’s goal to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and more sustainable"  (FAO, Climate-Smart Agriculture).

According to the FAO, actions to implement a CSA approach include:

  • Expanding the evidence base;
  • Supporting enabling policy frameworks;
  • Strengthening national and local institutions;
  • Enhancing financing options;
  • Implementing practices at field level.

(Source: Climate smart agriculture)

Ultimately, “data will be instrumental in the support of concepts such as CSA. To be able to achieve investments in managing climate risks, understanding and planning adaptation and exploring ways to reduce GHG emission there is a need for information and knowledge exchange... Investments in sourcing critical data sets and in making them open will be instrumental in achieving the CSA goals (GODAN).

And what is your opinion regarding this and other matters related to CSA?

AIMS would appreciate your ideas and suggestions!


Climate-Smart Agriculture 101

Might also be of your interest:

Open Data and Climate Smart Agriculture (GODAN online document, 2016)

Barriers, incentives and benefits in the adoption of climate-smart agriculture (FAO report, 2015)

What You Need to Know About Climate Smart Agriculture and Why It Matters (Feed the Future blog, 2015)