Need for Personal Transformations in a Changing Climate: Reflections on Environmental Change and Climate-Smart Agriculture in Africa

  • Bishal K. SitaulaEmail author
  • Ognjen Žurovec
  • Bal Chandra Luitel
  • Anne Parker
  • Rattan Lal


In this paper, we discuss the need for personal transformation in the rapidly changing environmental context. We also provide a short reflective and analytical framework for climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and its linkages with vulnerability, resilience, and livelihoods and reflect on how CSA can impact positively on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Africa. Furthermore, we stress the importance of reflective thinking on interdependence and the linkages between agricultural and environmental problems that are deeply rooted in human wants/greed and that manifest in various forms such as unsustainable agriculture, biodiversity losses, climate change, and land/soil degradation. To address these problems at their source, we attempt to introduce the idea of personal transformation, which is lacking in current approaches to education and agricultural development. We present a few educational perspectives, where a transformation refers to a change or shift of meaning on dominant ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. We argue that transformation takes place within the self after internalizing the transformative individual views or ideas from different perspectives. In other words, we cannot transform ourselves through the lens of beliefs and assumptions that are taken for granted. It is being aware of one’s own context and development of consciousness that brings changes within the self. We anticipate that education promotes and enhances awareness of personal transformation in various arenas of development, including agriculture.


Transformation Agriculture and climate change Climate-smart agriculture 


  1. Altieri MA, Funes-Monzote FR, Petersen P (2012) Agroecologically efficient agricultural systems for smallholder farmers: contributions to food sovereignty. Agron Sustain Dev 32(1):1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ampaire E, Happy P, Van Asten P, Radeny M (2015) The role of policy in facilitating adoption of climate-smart agriculture in Uganda. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  3. Asopa VN, Beye G (1997) Management of agricultural research: a training manual. Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  4. Bower P (2014) Leadership and the wisdom traditions. Accessed 19 Dec 2018
  5. Bryan E, Deressa TT, Gbetibouo GA, Ringler C (2009) Adaptation to climate change in Ethiopia and South Africa: options and constraints. Environ Sci Pol 12(4):413–426. Scholar
  6. Campbell BM, Thornton P, Zougmoré R, van Asten P, Lipper L (2014) Sustainable intensification: what is its role in climate smart agriculture? Curr Opin Environ Sustain 8:39–43. Scholar
  7. Carney D (1998) Sustainable rural livelihoods: what contribution can we make? Department for International Development, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen S (2013) States of denial: knowing about atrocities and suffering. Polity Press, MaldenGoogle Scholar
  9. Cooper PJM, Dimes J, Rao KPC, Shapiro B, Shiferaw B, Twomlow S (2008) Coping better with current climatic variability in the rain-fed farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa: an essential first step in adapting to future climate change? Agric Ecosyst Environ 126(1):24–35. Scholar
  10. Dethier J-J, Effenberger A (2012) Agriculture and development: a brief review of the literature. Econ Syst 36(2):175–205. Scholar
  11. Devine C, Sparks W (2014) Defining moments: toward a comprehensive theory of personal transformation. Int J Humanit Soc Sci 4(5.1):31–39Google Scholar
  12. DFID (1999) Sustainable livelihoods guidance sheets. Department for International Development, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Dirkx JM (1998) Transformative learning theory in the practice of adult education: an overview. PAACE J Lifelong Learn 7:1–14Google Scholar
  14. Dunlap RE, McCright AM (2010) Climate change denial: sources, actors and strategies. In: Lever-Tracy C (ed) Routledge handbook of climate change and society. Routledge, Abingdon, pp 240–259Google Scholar
  15. Ellis F (2000) Rural livelihoods and diversity in developing countries. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  16. FAO (2013) Climate smart agriculture sourcebook. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  17. FAO (2017) The future of food and agriculture – trends and challenges. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  18. FAO, IFAD, & WFP (2015) The state of food insecurity in the world 2015. Meeting the 2015 international hunger targets: taking stock of uneven progress. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  19. FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP & WHO (2018) The state of food security and nutrition in the world 2018: building climate resilience for food security and nutritio. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  20. Freire P (2005) Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Publishing, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Gallopín GC (2006) Linkages between vulnerability, resilience, and adaptive capacity. Glob Environ Chang 16(3):293–303. Scholar
  22. Gisladottir G, Stocking M (2005) Land degradation control and its global environmental benefits. Land Degrad Dev 16(2):99–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Godfray HCJ, Beddington JR, Crute IR, Haddad L, Lawrence D, Muir JF et al (2010) Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science 327:812. Scholar
  24. Goyal A, Nash J (2017) Reaping richer returns: public spending priorities for African agriculture productivity growth. The World Bank, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hertel TW, Rosch SD (2010) Climate change, agriculture and poverty. The World Bank, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hussein K, Nelson J (1998) Sustainable livelihoods and livelihood diversification. Institute of Development Studies, BrightonGoogle Scholar
  27. IPCC (2001) Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability: contribution of Working Group II to the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, NYGoogle Scholar
  28. IPCC (2007) In: Core Writing Team, Pachauri RK, Reisinger A (eds) Climate change 2007: synthesis report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC, Geneva, p 104Google Scholar
  29. IPCC (2012) Glossary of terms. In: Field CB, Barros V, Stocker TF, Dahe Q (eds) Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation: special report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, New York, p 564Google Scholar
  30. IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014: synthesis report (Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). IPCC, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  31. Irz X, Lin L, Thirtle C, Wiggins S (2001) Agricultural productivity growth and poverty alleviation. Dev Policy Rev 19(4):449–466. Scholar
  32. Jasanoff S (2007) Technologies of humility. Nature 450(7166):33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jones PG, Thornton PK (2009) Croppers to livestock keepers: livelihood transitions to 2050 in Africa due to climate change. Environ Sci Pol 12(4):427–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kabat-Zinn J (2009) Wherever you go, there you are: mindfulness meditation in everyday life. Piatkus Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  35. Kreuter EA, Reiter S (2014) Building resilience in the face of loss and irrelevance: poetic methods for personal and professional transformation. J Poet Ther 27(1):13–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lipper L, Zilberman D (2018) A short history of the evolution of the climate smart agriculture approach and its links to climate change and sustainable agriculture debates. In: Lipper L, McCarthy N, Zilberman D, Asfaw S, Branca G (eds) Climate smart agriculture : building resilience to climate change. Springer, Cham, pp 13–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lipper L, Thornton P, Campbell BM, Baedeker T, Braimoh A, Bwalya M et al (2014) Climate-smart agriculture for food security. [Perspective]. Nat Clim Chang 4:1068. Scholar
  38. Magdoff F, Tokar B (2010) Agriculture and food in crisis: conflict, resistance, and renewal. Monthly Review Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  39. Maponya P, Mpandeli S (2013) The role of extension services in climate change adaptation in Limpopo province, South Africa. J Agric Ext Rural Dev 5(7):137–142Google Scholar
  40. Mezirow J (1990) Fostering critical reflection in adulthood: a guide to transformational and emancipatory practice. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  41. Miller JP, Karsten S, Denton D, Orr D, Kates IC (2005) Holistic learning and spirituality in education: breaking new ground. SUNY Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. Natanasabapathy P, Bourke J, Joshi R (2011) Exploring transformative learning in the open and distance learning environment. In: Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia conferenceGoogle Scholar
  43. Niang I, Ruppel OC, Abdrabo MA, Essel A, Lennard C, Padgham J, Urquhart P (2014) Africa (climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part B: regional aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, NYGoogle Scholar
  44. Norgaard KM (2009) Cognitive and behavioral challenges in responding to climate change: the World Bank, Policy Research Working Paper 4940Google Scholar
  45. Nyamwanza AM (2012) Livelihood resilience and adaptive capacity: a critical conceptual review. Jàmbá J Disaster Risk Stud 4(1):1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. O’Brien K (2012) Global environmental change II: from adaptation to deliberate transformation. Prog Hum Geogr 36(5):667–676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. O’Brien K, Sygna L (2013) Responding to climate change: the three spheres of transformation. In: Proceedings of transformation in a changing climate. University of Oslo, Oslo, pp 19–21Google Scholar
  48. Pachauri RK, Allen MR, Barros VR, Broome J, Cramer W, Christ R et al (2014) Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  49. Palacios-Lopez A, Christiaensen L, Kilic T (2015) How much of the labor in African agriculture is provided by women? The World Bank, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pradhan P, Fischer G, van Velthuizen H, Reusser DE, Kropp JP (2015) Closing yield gaps: how sustainable can we be? PLoS One 10(6):e0129487. Scholar
  51. Pretty J (2008) Agricultural sustainability: concepts, principles and evidence. Philos Trans R Soc London B Biol Sci 363(1491):447–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pretty J, Toulmin C, Williams S (2011) Sustainable intensification in African agriculture. Int J Agric Sustain 9(1):5–24. Scholar
  53. Schmidhuber J, Tubiello FN (2007) Global food security under climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104(50):19703–19708. Scholar
  54. Scoones I (1998) Sustainable rural livelihoods: a framework for analysis (IDS Working Paper 72). BrightonGoogle Scholar
  55. Scoones I (2009) Livelihoods perspectives and rural development. J Peasant Stud 36(1):171–196. Scholar
  56. Sharma M (2007) Personal to planetary transformation. Kosmos Fall/Winter:31–35Google Scholar
  57. Taylor EW, Cranton P (2012) The handbook of transformative learning: theory, research, and practice. Wiley, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  58. UN, U. N., Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017) World population prospects: the 2017 revision, key findings and advance tables (Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP/248)Google Scholar
  59. UN, U. N., Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2018) World population prospects 2017. Accessed 21 Dec 2018
  60. Vermeulen SJ, Aggarwal PK, Ainslie A, Angelone C, Campbell BM, Challinor AJ et al (2012) Options for support to agriculture and food security under climate change. Environ Sci Pol 15(1):136–144. Scholar
  61. Wiggins S (2009) Can the smallholder model deliver poverty reduction and food security. Future Agricultures Consortium, BrightonGoogle Scholar
  62. Yang B (2004) Holistic learning theory and implications for human resource development. Adv Dev Hum Resour 6(2):241–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Young M (2009) A meta model of change. J Organ Chang Manag 22(5):524–548CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bishal K. Sitaula
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ognjen Žurovec
    • 1
  • Bal Chandra Luitel
    • 2
  • Anne Parker
    • 3
  • Rattan Lal
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of International Environment and Development StudiesNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  2. 2.School of Education, Kathmandu UniversityDhulikhelNepal
  3. 3.Department of Environmental SciencesNaropa UniversityBoulderUSA
  4. 4.School of Environment and Natural Resources, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, The Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations