Understanding trade-offs in upscaling and integrating climate-smart agriculture and sustainable river basin management in Malawi

Marije Schaafsma*, Henri Utila, Mark A. Hirons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper presents an assessment of the potential trade-offs between social, economic and environmental objectives when upscaling and integrating climate-smart agriculture (CSA) with integrated catchment management (ICM) at landscape level, with a case study in Malawi. In a workshop, government and NGO representatives and experts assessed trade-offs between the goals of ICM and CSA under four different scenarios of climatic and economic changes. The paper presents a novel combination of scenarios and a trade-off matrix exercise to critically evaluate trade-offs between CSA and ICM and link these to policy challenges and interventions. Our analysis shows that the compatibility of CSA and ICM policies depends on future climatic and economic developments, with a higher prevalence of perceived trade-offs in futures with low economic growth and high climate change. CSA was expected to have limited effect on reducing inequalities and investment in literacy and skills development are critical to ensure that marginalised groups benefit from CSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Climate-smart agriculture
  • Malawi
  • Poverty
  • Scenarios
  • Trade-offs

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