We stand at the confluence of three of the greatest challenges that humanity faces in the 21st century: achieving global food and nutrition security; climate change; and agriculture’s environmental footprint. A business-as-usual approach to agriculture will not effectively address these challenges and feed and nourish the world’s growing population while protecting the planet. Only an integrated holistic approach that preserves vital natural resources such as water, land, forests and fisheries will enable us to achieve our development goals. At the heart of this solution is ‘climate-smart agriculture’, which seeks to address challenges head-on by pursuing a triple win: sustainably increasing productivity; enhancing resilience and farmers’ capacity to adapt; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon storage. Climatesmart agriculture is at the heart of a paradigm shift in the food system and how we manage the fragile ecosystems that sustain rural livelihoods. It combines sustainable intensification – producing good quality food with fewer inputs – with a landscapes approach, so that progress on farms does not come at the expense of forests, streams, and biodiversity, the loss of which will have impacts on farmers’ productivity and resilience down the line. Diverse farming systems also provide more diverse and nutritious diets. This will have to be accompanied by a reduction in food waste and significant changes in the nitrogen cycle. Capitalising on the potential of climate-smart agriculture requires broad, strategic partnerships and significant investment in research – particularly the global public goods that CGIAR and its partners may uniquely provide – to generate the scientific, political, financial and technological innovations needed to transform agriculture for the benefit of poor people and the planet.