Standard Assessment of Mitigation Potential and Livelihoods in Smallholder Systems (SAMPLES)

Our knowledge of smallholder agriculture shows that these activities are both constrained by and impact their surrounding environment. Understanding the feedbacks and interactions among agriculture, the physical environment and socio-economics therefore underscores the ability to promote innovations that generate the range of ecosystem services on which smallholders’ livelihoods depend. Unfortunately, information quantifying these relationships is often non-existent, fragmented, or suspect due to the use of questionable methods.

While the above concerns apply to virtually all environmental impacts of smallholder agriculture, they are particularly acute for climate change. There is a need for consistent, rigorous, and adapted methods, tools, and data capable of assessing the relationships between livelihoods and the climate system to inform sustainable development discussions. SAMPLES was created to develop the infrastructure necessary to evaluate such complex agriculture-socio-economy-climate relationships, specifically aiming to identify pro-poor mitigation options1. SAMPLES applies a multi-element approach that includes protocol development, global priority setting, capacity building, and field-testing and research (Fig. 1). The four elements are implemented concurrently, but mechanisms for cross-fertilization are pervasive throughout the program.