Future scenarios to guide policy on food security in Cambodia

Climate and socio-economic scenarios developed by the Scenarios project of the CGIAR’s Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security program (CCAFS) feature in Cambodia’s Climate Change Priorities Action Plan for Agriculture (CCPAP).

The CCAFS Scenarios project is a global, cross-cutting activity developing “what-if” accounts of the future, told in words, numbers, images and maps. The scenarios don’t try to offer future predictions to decision-makers but offer a way to test plans and investments under widely different future conditions.

The scenarios for Southeast Asia began with a workshop in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, in 2013. Government decision-makers, researchers, and private sector and civil society stakeholders from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos met to develop scenarios that look at future socio-economic developments and potential climate impacts across Southeast Asia.

The Mekong Delta is set to face more extreme weather conditions; Photo by G. Smith (CIAT)

Following the workshop, the scenarios were quantified using agricultural economic models, providing quantitative information on agricultural commodities, calorie availability, land use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Region-specific scenarios have also been similarly developed for East and West Africa, South Asia, the Andes and Central America.


The Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries expressed strong interest in using these scenarios for priority setting and internal capacity building as they developed their Climate Change Priorities Action Plan for Agriculture.

The CCAFS Scenarios team established a collaboration that brought in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Economics and Policy Innovations for Climate-Smart Agriculture (UN FAO EPIC) programme, and the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP WCMC). They worked alongside the Cambodian Ministry to provide internal training on scenario-guided policy development and to facilitate a public dialogue on key elements of the CCPAP with representatives from funding and research organisations.

CCAFS/FAO/UNEP WCMC Scenarios Workshop Southeast Asia; Photo: Elisabeth van de Grift

With careful facilitation, the scenarios were used to create “safe spaces” to think freely about different policy futures which led to collaborative work on policy and budget design. They became a source of questions for decision-makers: What do the Southeast Asia scenarios mean for Cambodia specifically? What are the key trade-offs, for example between agricultural investment and climate impacts? Where do the synergies lie with policy makers?

Climate smart village, northern Vietnam;
Photo: G. Smith (CIAT)

With scenario-guided planning as a part of the CCPAP, Cambodia is better prepared to deal with the uncertainties of climate change, in a society where 85% of the labour force is still engaged in agriculture. The CCAFS Scenarios team is now supporting implementation of the plan and facilitating inclusion of non-state partners into the process.

Wider Interest

CCAFS Scenarios have been used to develop and test content for the Bangladesh Planning Commission’s 5 Year Plan and for agricultural climate adaptation policy in Honduras. Scenario-guided policy processes are underway in Ghana, Colombia, Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Uganda.

Globally, the UN FAO and UNEP WCMC are using the process developed by CCAFS to fund scenarios development exploring climate-smart agriculture and the trade-offs between agricultural development and conservation under climate change in Southeast Asia, East Africa and the Andes region. Regionally, the project has connected with ASEAN in Southeast Asia and ECOWAS in West Africa to plan policy guidance meetings using CCAFS scenarios.

The CCAFS Scenarios project offers governments an innovative and effective capacity development process for long-term strategic planning on climate change and food security.


Core funding comes from the CGIAR CCAFS program, with additional funding from FAO, UNEP WCMC and Oxfam Great Britain.

Read more

Scenarios page on the CCAFS website

CCAFS Blog Book

All photos by CGIAR Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Program