CARD: Assessing Data for Climate-friendly Action in Rural Contexts

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CARD: Assessing data for climate-friendly action in rural contexts

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Investing in rural development requires reliable and accurate data about agriculture, the preeminent economic activity outside of urban areas. Datasets on crop production increasingly need to take climate change into consideration, given its potentially profound repercussions for agriculture. Equipped with such adequate information, public and private investors can better assess specific field contexts, and thus commit their resources more appropriately.

As a UN agency specializing in rural investments, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has recently launched the Climate Adaptation in Rural Development (CARD) Assessment Tool, an investment-friendly platform with historical data and projections for major crops under changing climate scenarios. The tool has been implemented through workbooks in Microsoft Excel and is freely available online.

What is new?

The CARD tool simplifies datasets from results published in academic journals. It is an instrument that eases the quantitative integration of climate-related risks into investments and strategies, food security studies and rural development policies. The tool provides easy access to historical data and projections of climate change effects on agricultural yields at the national and subnational levels for administrative regions and agro-ecological zones. Currently available data cover 17 major crops in most countries in Africa, and data for all regions will be made available over the course of 2019.

With its user-friendly interface, CARD is intuitive to use and practical, having been designed for non-expert public and private investors and decision makers wishing to better account for climate risks in their investment decisions. The initiative also aims to foster evidence-based policy dialogues on the issue of rural development, agriculture and climate change. This will ultimately contribute to the promotion of investing in sustainable rural development, mainly targeting SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 13 (climate action).


The data provided in CARD are derived from peer-reviewed publications that assess crop yield changes under climate change using gridded crop-climate models based on long-term simulations. This model ensemble, called the Inter-Sectoral Impacts Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP), is constantly updated by scientific groups.

The general idea underpinning CARD is the use of a group of models under the same climate scenario to gauge possible levels of risk. The tool relies on the RCP8.5 scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (see User Guide for details). The range of future crop yields from the model ensemble is then summarized in the form of simplified statistical indicators (the median and percentiles) in the Excel interface. Assessments were conducted in two areas to ascertain robustness: (i) verification of the processing of the simulation data itself; and (ii) verification of the Excel-based tool. The details of these checks and data assessments are available in CARD’s User Guide.

Achieving the 2030 Agenda

Both historical data and projections available in CARD consider climate change factors, thereby facilitating climate adaptation strategies and planning in line with SDG 13. By easily assessing climate change effects on agriculture, policymakers and development organizations who use the tool can take more appropriate climate action when designing and implementing policies and development initiatives.

As CARD offers a more in-depth assessment of risks, it gives investors the confidence required to allocate resources to crops with more potential to grow well and succeed sustainably. By investing strategically in agriculture, CARD users can indirectly support the production of and access to food by local populations, thus enhancing food security and promoting efforts towards the achievement of SDG 2. Improved crop production fosters local economic growth and employment (SDG 8) and helps address poverty in rural areas (SDG 1).

Increased confidence

By offering peer-reviewed data on key crops, CARD aims to ensure that effective measures are being implemented to safeguard the positive development impacts of agricultural and rural investments, and, consequently, returns for smallholders, society and governments.

IFAD aims to keep improving the data and adding new functionalities to the tool, hence new funds will be imperative. The initiative began with initial funding from the second phase of IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme(ASAP 2), a flagship endeavor promoting climate change adaptation in agriculture through innovative approaches. The CARD team also calls for new scientific contributions relevant to decision making in agricultural and rural development within the context of climate change.


This article was originally published on SDG Knowledge Hub