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Opportunities for linking adaptation and mitigation in agroforestry systems

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There is increasing acceptance that even very ambitious climate change mitigation measures, which would go beyond the current international climate agreements, would not be sufficiently effective to halt the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations in the medium term and that therefore adaptation measures are as needed as mitigation measures. The impact of climate change will be affecting developing countries more severely than developed countries not the least because of their generally low adaptive capacities (IPCC, 2003). In these countries, the agricultural sector will be among the most vulnerable putting rural populations at large risks. At the same time, we recognise that climate change is yet an additional threat to urgent rural development demands including food security improvement, poverty reduction and provision of an adequate standard of living for growing populations. Much effort will be needed to integrate what is known about climate change response measures into national development planning (Abeygunawardena et al ., 2003). Within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiation process, the development of mitigation and adaptation activities has been dealt with largely as separate matters (see Forner, this volume). Carbon sequestration through land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) as a measure for mitigating climate change has been a very contentious issue during recent international climate negotiations. However, agreements have been made on the modalities and procedures for LULUCF climate projects, which offer, inter alia, opportunities for agroforestry activities under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Adaptation, on the other side, was only recently given more recognition as an important and self-standing topic as expressed, for instance, in the ‘Delhi Ministerial Declaration on Climate Change and Sustainable Development’ of UNFCCC COP-8 in 2002. The discussion on the potential synergies between adaptation and mitigation measures is therefore just only starting and the debate is all too often for political reasons reduced to a discussion of the costs of global adaptation versus global mitigation. A practical understanding of the link between adaptation and mitigation measures particular in LULUCF does not yet exist. However, research in the agricultural sector has focused for some decades now on the need to cope with adverse and irregular climatic conditions including rainfall variability or shifting weather patterns, in particular in the world’s arid and semi-arid areas. Equally, years of agricultural research have focused on improving the productivity of agricultural systems leading to the understanding that increasing, for instance, soil carbon stocks is essential for an enhanced productivity.

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