What (science for) adaptation to climate change in Colombian agriculture? A commentary on “A way forward on adaptation to climate change in Colombian agriculture: perspectives towards 2050” by J. Ramirez-Villegas, M. Salazar, A. Jarvis, C. E. Navarro-Valcines

A Reply to this article was published on 02 July 2013

The Original Article was published on 30 May 2012

Abstract

Climate change is putting Colombian agriculture under significant stress and, if no adaptation is made, the latter will be severely impacted during the next decades. Ramirez-Villegas et al. (2012) set out a government-led, top-down, techno-scientific proposal for a way forward by which Colombian agriculture could adapt to climate change. However, this proposal largely overlooks the root causes of vulnerability of Colombian agriculture, and of smallholders in particular. I discuss some of the hidden assumptions underpinning this proposal and of the arguments employed by Ramirez-Villegas et al., based on existing literature on Colombian agriculture and the wider scientific debate on adaptation to climate change. While technical measures may play an important role in the adaptation of Colombian agriculture to climate change, I question whether these actions alone truly represent priority issues, especially for smallholders. I suggest that by i) looking at vulnerability before adaptation, ii) contextualising climate change as one of multiple exposures, and iii) truly putting smallholders at the centre of adaptation, i.e. to learn about and with them, different and perhaps more urgent priorities for action can be identified. Ultimately, I argue that what is at stake is not only a list of adaptation measures but, more importantly, the scientific approach from which priorities for action are identified. In this respect, I propose that transformative rather than technical fix adaptation represents a better approach for Colombian agriculture and smallholders in particular, in the face of climate change.

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Acknowledgements

I am grateful to Luis Alfonso Agudelo for ongoing discussions on Colombian agriculture and Claudio Szlafsztein for comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. This work was supported financially by the School of Human and Environmental Sciences and the Walker Institute for Climate System Research at the University of Reading.

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Correspondence to Giuseppe Feola.

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This comment refers to the article available at doi:10.1007/s10584-012-0500-y.

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Feola, G. What (science for) adaptation to climate change in Colombian agriculture? A commentary on “A way forward on adaptation to climate change in Colombian agriculture: perspectives towards 2050” by J. Ramirez-Villegas, M. Salazar, A. Jarvis, C. E. Navarro-Valcines. Climatic Change 119, 565–574 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0731-6

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Keywords

  • Climate Change
  • Adaptive Capacity
  • Colombia
  • Adaptation Measure
  • Climate Change Adaptation