We spoke to smallholder farmers about how to mitigate climate change. They want to help.

Communities in the Global South are often perceived as passive victims of the North’s development who will be pushed further into poverty by climate change. In this worldview, smallholder and forest communities lack the agency and resources to take action, except as climate refugees. This narrative is disempowering and perpetuates a worldview in which smallholder farmers and forest communities are grateful beneficiaries of Northern actions.

Limiting global warming requires urgent action, and it is achievable. To roll back the impacts of anthropogenic climate change and sustainably address poverty, we cannot afford to forego the agency, voice, and actions of millions of farming families whose livelihoods depend on ecosystems and the environment. For climate solutions to work, we must partner with and benefit the farming and forest communities of the Global South. 

The CASH Coalition believes we must shift the conversation. To better understand how smallholder farmers perceive their agency to mitigate climate change, we surveyed over 1600 farmers working with our member organizations. 

The results of our Farmer Voice Survey support a new message: 

Smallholder farmers and forest communities are intimately connected to their lands. They are primary caretakers of the earth’s precious soil, water, and forest resources, and they are concerned about climate change and are willing and ready to take action.

Key takeaways:

Smallholder farmers and forest stewards in the Global South 

  • Recognize the realities of climate change; 
  • See the impacts of climate change in their fields and forests; 
  • Are concerned about declining yields and a degraded natural endowment; and 
  • Want to act to adapt and mitigate climate change. 

The Climate Action for Smallholders Coalition (CASH Coalition) is a collaborative initiative comprised of thirteen organizations working with smallholder farmers, indigenous communities, and other local populations in the Global South. We work directly with 9 million land managers who collectively steward 16 million hectares of land. We aim to make regenerative agriculture and climate solutions profitable for smallholders, and strengthen farmers’ participation in climate financing markets. Through a shared research platform, the Coalition encourages innovation and the transmission of local and indigenous knowledge to enhance and replicate climate solutions that work for farmers and the planet.