Oxford Long-Term Ecology Lab

Long-Term Ecology, Biodiversity Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship Technologies

During the Farms of the Future programme in May- August 2012, Nepali farmers from Rupandehi district (East) visited a community in Dang (West) to discuss land management options to adapt to the monsoon rainfall season arriving one month later, affecting maize crops harvests.  (Image: Jessica Thorn, July 2012)


Systemic Integrated Adaptation (SIA) Framework is a three-year, multidisciplinary research initiative exploring the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems to climate change. Employing systems-thinking, the program brings together different philosophical, methodological and theoretical assumptions through social, environmental, political and economic lenses to climate adaptation planning. The research adopts a grounded-theory approach to implement integrated field research studies in small-holder farming environments in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (Terai Plains of Nepal) and West Africa (North Western Ghana), followed by in-country and Oxford-based pluri-disciplinary dialogues. The research is supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which aims to overcome the threats posed by a changing climate to achieving food security, enhancing livelihoods and improving environmental management.

We hope the produce site-specific contextual insights as well as draw out scalable and replicable features which can guide regional, national and international policy, planning and decision-making processes. In particular, the research program aims to:

(a)clarify whether, and if so what, differences in meanings, principles, methods and tools are being realized in planned and autonomous adaptation practice and why;

(b)reveal implications for diagnosing and building resilience and adaptation through capacity development interventions; and

(c)identify implications for the development of meta-theory and meta-methodology for adaptation planning

The ultimate outcome is a systemic framework for integrated adaptation planning.

Over the last three years researchers have employed systems thinking and strength-based approaches to climate adaptation planning with small holders. Novel methodologies  have been piloted at various geographic scales, including  experiential learning and farmer exchanges to plan using downscaled models, as well as  diagnostic workshops  and backcasting, and multi-level national workshops using rich picturing methodologies to identify disconnects and bottlenecks between stakeholders. Participatory Action Research supports the implementation of plans with local partners to promote resiliency , such as  demonstration trials of early maturing varieties, integrated pest management, and volunteer agricultural extension agent training.

Particularly, the research also involves cross-cutting activities such as the Farms of the Future Exchange Program (FOTF) .  FOTF aims to practically apply the CCAFS developed Climate Analogues tool to facilitate farmer exchanges between possible climate futures sites. In Nepal 2012, this approach as piloted, where an ensemble of 24 downscaled General Circulation Models were used to identify precipitation and temperature analogues for the reference village of Beora in Rupandehi district for the year 2030. Researchers also aimed to locate analogues considered environmental covariates such as hydro-sheds and soil quality, developmental aspirations of farmers, and socially, linguistic and cultural appropriateness. The exchange program was embedded in a diagnostic and planning program which identified community perceptions and values, strategies and tools available for coping with environmental change, visions for development and social, cultural and gender specific barriers to adaptation.

Project webpage: http://ccafs.cgiar.org/systemic-integrated-adaptation#.U5MdCl6p31o

Links to the Climate analogues tool used in sampling for space-for-time substitution with other environmental covariates:

Online platform: http://gismap.ciat.cgiar.org/Analogues/

Working Paper: http://ccafs.cgiar.org/sites/default/files/assets/docs/ccafs-wp-12-climate-analogues-web.pdf)


Project Details



CGIAR Climate Change Agriculture Food Security research programme


Nepal, Ghana

Additional Researchers

Ariella Helfgott, Chase Sova, Meghan Bailey, Abrar Chaudhury, Thomas Thornton