This was one of the findings from the 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Montpellier, France, this week.
More than 700 participants coming from 75 different countries around the world convened at the conference to share their experience and agree on global and specific research agendas.
The conference gathered representatives from scientific organisations, national and international governmental organizations, farmers’ associations, industries, NGOs and civil society.
The conference concluded that Climate-Smart Agriculture offers the opportunity to design best options to tackle food security as well as to reach a resilient agriculture that also contributes to mitigating climate change.
The scientists said that there is a need to involve all stakeholders, to connect science and policy.
They said that today, agriculture is at a crossroad.
Climate change already affects negatively food production while expectations for the sector are to meet a demand for food that will change tremendously within only 40 years, and strongly reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are largely embedded in the biological processes of agricultural production.
“Failure to reach this target would further reduce food security and degrade the climate” comments Jean-François Soussana, Scientific Director for Environment at INRA, and Chair of Scientific Committee of the conference.
Climate smart agriculture (CSA) is a concept launched five years ago to mobilise the scientific and stakeholder communities to tackle simultaneously the climate change adaptation and mitigation, the food security challenges and to address future trade-offs.
Based on the evidence that climate change already seriously impacts agriculture and will particularly affect vulnerable farmers and countries, and because of the many unknown factors in the world, scientists said there is a need to mobilise all relevant knowledge to act now to prepare the future.
They also called for the questions that will be central in 20 to 30 years’ time and which require research and foresight investments now to be identified.
Delegates from the conference also stress that CSA solutions already exist and can be implemented provided there is a clear commitment from relevant stakeholders.
“Let’s keep in mind that agricultural transition will act as one of the main levers for other sectors, because of its linkages with employment, energy, food, health, nutrition and environment,” said Patrick Caron, Director General at CIRAD, and Chair of the Organising Committtee of the conference.
During the conference, the French Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Stéphane Le Foll announced public subsidies will be available for an international research project on the restoration of degraded soils and soil carbon sequestration, a major option that can support the three pillars of CSA (adaptation, mitigation, food security).
He announced the establishment of an international research programme, the "4 for 1000", which aims to develop agricultural research to improve organic matter stocks soil in by four parts per 1000 per year.
He said that carbon sequestration in agricultural soils is one of the contributions that agriculture can make with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
He said the European Union has set a reduction target at EU level of at least 40 per cent of emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030 compared to 1990.
During his speech, the Minister reiterated that agriculture should be taken into account in the specific context of the "Climate Conference Paris 2015".
The conference heard that climate negotiations are gradually recognising the potential for transitions in agriculture.
Through CSA, the scientific community can engage beyond frontiers developing the interfaces with stakeholders and policy makers and promoting scientific diplomacy.
Science can actually help in changing the perception of a burden into evidence-based conviction that there are feasible solutions.
The priority given to agricultural transitions should be a head start for policy action on climate change.