In the developing parts of Asia, more than 60 percent of the economically active population and their dependents—2.2 billion people—rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Several studies have identified adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture in the Asia-Pacific Region. These include decreased yields which could threaten the food security of 1.6 billion people in South Asia.
Three of the top goals of research and development institutions in the world are poverty alleviation, food, and nutrition security. Many issues must first be addressed in achieving these goals, and climate change may be considered both a hindrance and an opportunity to further agricultural and rural development. A unified and integrated agenda for collaborative research, capacity development, and knowledge management on climate change adaptation and mitigation in the region would ensure climate change impacts are addressed effectively.
The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia joined the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Studies in Agriculture and Natural Resources (University Consortium) and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in an umbrella program on climate change.
The Umbrella Program on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation for Southeast Asia (CChAM, 2015-2020) provides a platform for collaborative research on climate change on the regional and sub-regional levels. It aims to identify priority areas of research that institutions and organizations could work on together.
These priority research areas are categorized into four themes: (1) assessing climate change impacts and risks for policy, plans and investments; (2) advancing low-carbon agriculture and rural development; (3) enhancing proactive adaptation to climate change, variability and extremes; and (4) enabling policies (including processes) and governance for climate-resilient agriculture and rural communities (cross-cutting theme).
In developing the themes, the collaborating institutions conducted a scoping study of the different frameworks, initiatives, and publications on climate change in Southeast Asia. The resulting framework was then presented for validation during their Regional Consultation Workshop attended by representatives from the government, academe and research institutions, non-government organizations and international organizations.
The synergy of the involved institutions would be most welcome as CCAFS SEA, CIAT, SEARCA and the University Consortium all recognize that no individual institution or organization could solve all the problems, more so those related to climate change. Resources could be pooled together in addressing the gaps and issues on climate change to bring better and timelier solutions to the communities.
All these efforts would contribute to greater inclusive and sustainable agriculture and rural development, especially through the integration of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.