Adapting to Climate Change in the Agricultural Sector in Thailand – Prioritising the Most Pressing Measures

In 2017, PlanAdapt supported the Thai Government in building capacities for the application of appraisal and prioritisation techniques for climate change adaptation, such as multi-criteria analysis. The initiative was part of the FAO and UNDP-led programme “Integrating Agriculture into National Adaptation Plans (NAPs-Ag)”, funded by the German International Climate Initiative (IKI), that aims to safeguard agricultural GDP and related livelihoods as well as strengthen and reinforce the national adaptation planning (NAP) process.

Which climate risks and impacts threaten crop productivity the most? What capacities are most pivotal to strengthen among farmers and other sector stakeholders, to cope with likely changes? What measures and projects should be promoted on a priority basis to respond to future needs? Which criteria are most relevant to consider when prioritising these adaptive responses?

These questions are front and centre of adaptation planning in Thailand’s agricultural sector, a sector already seeing the impacts of climate change in the form of shifting temperatures and more unpredictable rainfall. According to a 2012 study undertaken by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the total economic impact of climate change on agriculture in Thailand is predicted to range between US$300 million to US$420 million (9.8 to 13.9 billion Thai Baht), with yields of major crops such as rice, maize and sugarcane falling by 3.6 percent – and up to 15 percent – by 2050.

PlanAdapt, in collaboration with the UNDP and FAO,  developed a method to identify and prioritise adaptation activities as part of the portfolio of Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC).

Two UNDP-hosted workshops were held in June and October 2017 – attended by over 70 officials from departments under MoAC – have focused on prioritization tools for adaptation planning, using Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) and the development of a screening system to rank and fine-tune ongoing climate-sensitive projects and programmes.

The workshop in June focused on providing an overview of MCA as a tool to prioritise actions. Participants gained a better appreciation of the process and key steps involved, as well as its strengths and limitations in the context of climate adaptation planning. Feedback and key insights were also gained by MoAC on how MCA could be used in the context of implementing Thailand’s new sectoral climate change strategy (ACCSP).

In a follow-up workshop in October, participants learned the key steps to apply tools and methods in the context of their work. Following the prioritisation of key activity areas based on the revised five-year Agricultural Climate Change Strategic Plan 2017-2021, MoAC will be integrating the respective actions in the Ministry’s annual budgetary cycle and put forward respective proposals to international climate funds.