Understanding how, why, and whether the trade-offs and tensions around simultaneous implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals are resolved both sustainably and equitably requires an appreciation of power relations across multiple scales of governance. We explore the politics and political economy of how the nexus around food, energy, and water is being governed through initiatives to promote climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as it moves from the global to the local. We combine an analysis of how these interrelationships are being governed (and ungoverned) by key global institutions with reflection on the consequences of this for developing countries that are being targeted by CSA initiatives. In particular, we look at Kenya as a country heavily dependent on agriculture, but also subject to some of the worst effects of climate change and which has been a focus for a range of bilateral and multilateral donors with their preferred visions of CSA. We draw on strands of literature in global environmental politics, political ecology, and the political economy of development to make sense of the power dynamics that characterize the multiscalar politics of how CSA is translated, domesticated, and operationalized in practice.

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