By Marissa Van Epp, Global Communications and Knowledge Manager, CCAFS


The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and partners developed a guide website introducing multiple dimensions of the climate-smart agriculture (CSA) approach to food security and sustainable development. The website aims to help practitioners, researchers and decision-makers working with or interested in CSA. It provides guidance on how to get started, as well as all the resources you need to dig deeper. For countries following up on their commitments under the Paris Agreement, the CSA Guide is a useful tool for setting up mitigation and adaptation initiatives in agriculture.

What is climate-smart agriculture?

The most commonly used definition of climate-smart agriculture is provided by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), which defines CSA as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation), reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) where possible (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals.”

CSA can help agriculture initiatives become climate-resilient. The approach is effective because it addresses a number of important challenges simultaneously:

  • Food security, misdistribution and malnutrition
  • The relationship between agriculture and poverty
  • The relationship between climate change and agriculture

The Guide

The Guide presents the CSA approach to food security and sustainable development in a user-friendly format. It offers a combination of practical tools and guidelines and in-depth resources that can support the planning, implementation and assessment of CSA initiatives.

The Guide is divided into six parts:

1. The basics: This section provides users with crucial information about what climate-smart agriculture is, how it helps address important challenges, how it is different from other sustainable agriculture approaches and suggests introductory reading materials and videos.

2. Entry points: This section gives an introduction to the numerous entry points for initiating CSA programmes. To help users navigate among them, they are presented under three thematic areas: practices (e.g. soil management), systems approaches (e.g. value chains) and enabling environments (e.g. climate information services).

3. Develop a CSA plan: The Guide also presents the CSA plan, which is an approach for planning, implementing and assessing CSA projects and programs. The CSA plan supports the operationalization of CSA planning, and implementation and monitoring at scale, through its four major components: situation analysis; targeting and prioritization; program support; and monitoring, evaluation and learning. The Guide provides a step-by-step approach to developing a CSA plan and presents useful tools and resources for each component.

4. Finance: This section offers an overview of potential sources of funding for CSA activities 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.

5. Resource library: The resource library provides quick and easy access to all the references, key resources, key terms and frequently asked questions related to CSA.

6. Case studies: This section brings together all the specific projects that are detailed in other sections of the Guide. An interactive map allows users to view all case studies at once or filter the search by entry points.

Further resources

The CSA Guide 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. The Guide is available in EnglishSpanish and French.


*The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the position of the World Farmers’ Organisation.


As Global Communications and Knowledge Manager for CCAFS, Marissa Van Epp is responsible for communications and knowledge management strategy and implementation across the program, and for coordination with other CGIAR centers and programs in these areas.
She holds an MPhil in Social Anthropology from Oxford University and an MSc in Sustainable Development from the London School of Economics.