the challenge

Climate change is expected to pose new challenges to the task of achieving food security worldwide.

Agriculture is one of the most economically vulnerable sectors to the impacts of climate change and its losses will be unevenly distributed across the world. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that climate change is affecting all aspects of agriculture and that its impacts on crop yields are already manifesting across the world. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) lists agriculture as one of the domains in particular need of adaptation.

Objectives of the current and future EU’s common agricultural policy are to enhance the climate change resilience of European agriculture, increase climate change adaptation and protect biodiversity.

Agrobiodiversity is increasingly regarded as a key component for the future adaptation of agriculture to a changing climate. Agrobiodiversity conservation at the global, regional and farm levels can provide natural adaptation and insurance to farm households as well as resilience to farming communities and sustainability. Notwithstanding, there is a general lack of attention to the role that agrobiodiversity can play into building greater resilience of production systems.

Adaptation, resilience and biodiversity conservation are all priorities of the current and future CAP policy. Our project aims to widen Europe’s knowledge core on the economic resilience of the agriculture sector to climate change and on the potential of policy favoring agrobiodiversity conservation. Climate change and Resilience of Agricultural Systems (CRAS) aims, through an econometric and computational analysis, to better understand the contribution of agrobiodiversity to the resilience of agroecosystems and to the mitigation of the impacts of climate change.  The focus is on southern European countries, which have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

CRAS contributes to the following intertwined research areas: the resilience of the agricultural systems area, the climate change impacts area, the agrobiodiversity conservation policies area. Objectives of the project analysis are the assessment of:

  1. the empirical relation between agrobiodiversity and the adaptive capacity of the agriculture sector.
  2. the macro-economic (general equilibrium) implications of agrobiodiversity as a damage smoothing opportunity.
  3. the benefits of policies for the conservation of agrobiodiversity.

The Ricardian approach, first pioneered by Robert Mendelsohn in 1994, is used to estimate the contribution of agrobiodiversity to farms values and the long run stability of the net revenues of the agriculture sector. Land revenue elasticities to agrobiodiversity estimated applying the Ricardian model will be used to improve the description of the agricultural sector in the Global Energy Environment Economics Appraisal model (GE3AR), explicitly including the role of agrobiodiversity, and to assess the change in gross damage and the efficacy of adaptation policy of biodiversity conservation.

The GE3AR model is a top-down recursive dynamic general equilibrium model whose main purpose is to assess the final welfare implication of climate change impacts on world economies. The results of the analysis will eventually enable to measure the change in gross damages (lost agricultural output, and country GDP) that arise from accounting for a greater adaptive capacity of the agricultural sector and to assess the effectiveness of the different policies for agrobiodiversity conservation.

  • Increasing of the methodological and core knowledge on climate impacts and adaptation in the agriculture sector.
  • Advancing the economic assessment of the role of agrobiodiversity in lessening the impacts of climate changes coupling econometric and macroeconomic models.
  • Improving the empirical foundation of IAMs for simulating climate change impacts in the presence of adaptation, combining the econometric approach of the Ricardian model with the computational tools of GE3AR. This will enhance the modelling and assessments of climate change impacts on agriculture and of the efficacy of adaptation policy of biodiversity conservation.
  • Exposing the debate on biodiversity conservation and climate change from the research area to the policy arena and non-scientific audience.

CRAS at glance


Lea Nicita

Lea Nicita is Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Research Fellow at Yale School of Forestry and Environmnetal Studies and Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici.

Her current research emphasis is on sustainable and diversified agricultural landscapes, climate change impacts on agriculture, and climate perceived risks and adaptation in agriculture. Lea has co-authored papers in the field of economics of climate change and non-market valuation of environmental resources.

Lea holds a PhD in economics from University of Venice; she had worked as researcher assistant at the University of Catania and as senior researcher at Eni Enrico Mattei Foundation and Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici. She is a passionate mom and traveller.