Adrian Muller, Andreas Gattinger, Matthias Meier (left to right)

15.06.2015

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Adaptation to climate change in agriculture is a hot topic, but what exactly does it mean? Our authors suggest to take a step back before embarking on adaptation work in rural development, and to carefully clarify the goals of adaptation and scrutinise the role of rural development organisations in adaptation processes.

Adaptation to climate change is of paramount importance for agriculture and for rural communities. It is high on the agenda in rural development, both on a conceptual level and in daily project work. However, is it clear what adaptation to climate change in agriculture means? Is it clear how to measure the success of adaptation strategies? We argue that formulating the goals and designing measurements for adaptation success in agriculture is much more challenging than commonly thought. In fact, adaptation to climate change brings neglected dimensions of rural development work to the fore, calling for a thorough reassessment of how to best engage in this work.

The challenge

Predictions of climate change impacts on agriculture entail increases in weather extremes such as droughts and floods, shifts in cropping seasons and increased pest and disease pressure. Adaptation to climate change aims at decreasing the vulnerability of rural communities to these changes, thus seeking to maintain or improve their agricultural production capacities despite increasingly unfavourable conditions.

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