Frequently Asked Questions

Victorian Climate-Smart Agriculture Fellowship and Masterclass 2018


What is climate-smart agriculture (CSA)?

CSA is a way of transforming and readying agricultural development for the new realities of climate change and a low-carbon world. It is also a way of thinking that promotes adaptation and resilience for both farmers and rural communities, reduces agriculture’s contribution to climate change, and improves productivity and sustainable incomes.

Climate-smart agriculture has been developed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to promote sustainable food security internationally. For more information, see here and here.


What is the opportunity for CSA Fellows?

Fellows will have a unique chance to:

  • Strengthen their grasp of climate science and related policy, and to discuss what these mean for agriculture and rural communities
  • Explore examples of cutting-edge agricultural mitigation and adaptation strategies, supporting farmers and rural communities to manage climate risk, deal with uncertainty, and take up opportunities.
  • Learn from and talk directly to leading researchers, thinkers, and practitioners, as well as each other.
  • Develop skills in media and communications, advocacy, community organizing, and planning.
  • Become part of a new, enduring, mutually supportive Fellowship that will grow in years to come.


What are FCA’s selection criteria for CSA Fellows? 

FCA will select a variety of producers from different industries, districts, and backgrounds who:

  • Show at least a budding interest in the relationship between climate change, agriculture, and food security.
  • Are willing and able to devise and take on a new—or carry forward an existing—CSA-inspired project (see below).
  • Are passionate about telling their story and engaging their peers, decision-makers, and the wider community to make a difference.
  • Are well-regarded by their community and industry with good networks.
  • Are willing and able to travel to Seymour to attend the retreat for three nights and three days, 19–22 February, 2018.

Please note that for the purposes of the CSA Fellowship, a ‘farmer’ includes any commercial producer of food, fibre, and/or flowers, and senior agriculture students intent on farming. Farm, vineyard, etc. managers and their staff may also apply.


How and when should candidates apply?

Applicants should submit an expression of interest via email, briefly outlining their background and what makes them a good candidate for the CSA Fellowship. They may also include a résumé and referees.

Please make all applications via email no later than 5:00 p.m., Friday, 15 December, 2018. Tuesday, 19 December, 2017. 

FCA may contact candidates for further information.


Who will be there to help me in the masterclass?

FCA is pleased to confirm the following session facilitators:

  • Professor Richard Eckard, Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, a joint research initiative between the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Government.
  • Professor Mark Howden, Director of the Climate Change Institute, Australian National University and Honorary Professor at the School of Land and Food, University of Melbourne.
  • Dr Karl Braganza, Manager of Climate Monitoring, Environment and Research Division at the Bureau of Meteorology.
  • Mr Graeme Anderson, Specialist Seasonal Climate, Agriculture Victoria.
  • Ms Anna Rose, Myer Foundation Innovation Fellow, author, environmental leader, and co-founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
  • Mr Erwin Jackson, Strategy Director, Energy Transition Hub, University of Melbourne
  • Mr Charlie Prell, Farmer and Renewable Energy Consultant.


What subjects will I learn about in the masterclass?

The masterclass comprises a tightly packed programme centred on 90–120-minute tutorial-style sessions in which experts will present and facilitate discussion. The programme is designed to give Fellows time to ask questions, raise issues, exchange ideas, and contribute to each other’s learning in a relaxed environment away from routine and interruptions. Fellows will also have time to socialise and enjoy excellent food in a secluded setting.

The programme includes:

  • Global climate change and climate change in rural Victoria
  • Managing carbon and emissions on farms
  • Climate change adaptation in rural industries and communities
  • Renewable energy on farms
  • Climate and energy policy
  • Carbon markets
  • Communications and media skills
  • Community organizing and advocacy skills

We do not expect Fellows to leave the masterclass fully fledged experts. Rather, we hope they’ll develop a good grasp of the foundations of climate science, climate risks and climate-smart opportunities, and some basics skills to help them make change for the better, on farm and more broadly.

Fellows will have the skills, tools, contacts and confidence to find out more to suit their needs. They will be able to work with experts and each other to promote climate-smart agriculture and similar endeavours. And they will leave inspired—with a good experience and a good network with which to work and continue learning.


What is a CSA-inspired project?

The scope of CSA is broad. A project might focus on new and significant technical changes to production or land management, for instance (e.g. carbon sequestration with productivity benefits, a renewable energy innovation, resilience-building on one or more farms, herd management to reduce emissions, etc.).

A CSA project might also involve a social, technological, or economic innovation (e.g. community organizing, education and training, policy advocacy, community development, use of big data, a new marketing initiative, etc.).

Or it could combine elements of these in some way. Crucially, a CSA project should yield demonstrable benefits for agriculture, rural landscapes and communities, and food security in a time of rapid climate change.

It should be grounded in good evidence and involve adaptation and/or mitigation. It may involve partnerships with other farmers, industries, researchers, government, and/or non-governmental organizations. And it should be something that can be scaled up and become mainstream or at least applied more widely.


What expenses will FCA cover?

With the generous assistance of our major donors (see below), FCA is able to cover accommodation, catering, and travel costs for 20 CSA Fellows.


When will I be notified of FCA’s decision?

All applicants will be notified by email by Friday, 22 December, 2017.


What if my application is unsuccessful?

FCA knows that time is short and that not everyone who wants to attend the masterclass is able to do so. We nevertheless encourage all who are interested to forward an application to us.

All applicants, whether successful or not, will have access to all masterclass materials, be added to FCA’s network, will receive regular updates, events, news, useful information, resources and opportunities, and will automatically receive an invitation to apply to the 2019 masterclass.

Fellows will be expected to proactively support and extend their knowledge to others in the FCA network and beyond.


Who supports the FCA CSA Fellowship?

The CSA Masterclass and Fellowship is made possible by the generous support of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the William Buckland Foundation’s Advancing Agriculture Programme.