Scientific Publication

‘Triple wins’ or ‘triple faults’? Analysing the equity implications of policy discourses on climate-smart agriculture (CSA)


This paper analyses contrasting discourses of ‘climate-smart agriculture’ (CSA) for their implications on control over and access to changing resources in agriculture. One of the principal areas of contestation around CSA relates to equity, including who wins and who loses, who is able to participate, and whose knowledge and perspectives count in the process. Yet to date, the equity implications of CSA remain an under-researched area. We apply an equity framework centred on procedure, distribution and recognition, to four different discourses. Depending on which discourses are mobilised, the analysis helps to illuminate: (1) how CSA may transfer the burden of responsibility for climate change mitigation to marginalised producers and resource managers (distributive equity); (2) how CSA discourses generally fail to confront entrenched power relations that may constrain or block the emergence of more ‘pro-poor’ forms of agricultural development, adaptation to climate change, or carbon sequestration and storage (procedural equity); (3) how CSA discourses can have tangible implications for the bargaining power of the poorest and most vulnerable groups (recognition). The paper contributes to work showing the need for deeper acknowledgement of the political nature of the transformations necessary to address the challenges caused by a changing climate for the agricultural sector.