CCAFS Report Focuses on Genetic Diversity in Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change

August 2012: Considering the importance of genetic diversity to successful agricultural adaptation, the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Program (CCAFS) has released a working paper that outlines the experience of eight centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) with reorganizing their activities to work on climate change adaptation.

The report, titled "Flows Under Stress: Availability of Plant Genetic Resources in Times of Climate and Policy Change," examines how the collection, use and distribution of plant genetic resources by CGIAR centers are influenced by international and national policies. It concludes that climate change has not changed how CGIAR approaches plant genetic resources, but has increased the urgency of many of its activities. Explicit climate change adaptation efforts related to plant genetic resources have been influenced by demand from the donor and development community. Scientists also continued to note concern about access to plant genetic resources, stressing that recent new rules and regulations have increased challenges in accessing plant genetic resources for their crop improvement and research activities.

In terms of recent adaptation responses, many of the CGIAR centers have been breeding improved plant materials in response to climate stresses, including through participatory crop improvements and new technologies. Some centers are trying to diversify the portfolio of crop species being improved and disseminated. Another area of particular interest has been collection and characterization of wild relatives of some crops. Finally CGIAR centres have begun to link gene banks directly to farmers. [Publication: Flows Under Stress: Availability of Plant Genetic Resources in Times of Climate and Policy Change]