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Climate Change and Land Governance

Climate Change and Land Governance

In debates about appropriate climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, plans and actions, the implications for land governance are rarely a central focus. However, there is a need to examine how land governance ambitions and arrangements shape and conflict with climate change ambitions; how land related livelihoods and bio-diversity are considered in climate change debates; and how the land governance landscape is responding to climate change challenges.

Similarly, we need to better understand the impacts of land transfers and transformations under the guise of climate related disaster risk reduction; and examine how climate change might become a rationale for lowering the ambitions of good land governance. A concern is that lessons learnt about due diligence and the need to protect rights become ‘unlearnt’ under the pressure of climate change and associated challenges of food security and disaster risk reduction.

Land Governance Challenges and Climate Change

A first and major concern relates to the land foot print that is to be expected from climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. Both alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar energy, and infrastructural interventions for e.g. flood protection, translate into claims on land and will compete with existing rights or other potential uses of the land. We expect to see more instances of disaster-capitalism after floods, and land grabbing as part of climate change adaptation measures. Crucial questions here are the way these claims are dealt with and whether principles of ‘good governance’ are upheld in the face of the climate imperative.

A second concern relates to the shifts in land use patterns and people’s mobility (from and between rural and urban areas) in response to differential effects of climate change, as this translates, among others, into extreme weather events and unpredictability of rainfall. We may expect this to increase land scarcity in some places while potentially reducing it in others. How will this shape landscapes? What land governance institutions and instruments are in place to deal with the pressures this generates and support sustainable land use and food security? How to avoid that smallholders loose out?

Finally, we are concerned with how the land governance landscape will respond to these challenges. How is the governance of climate change adaptation foreseen and who will jump in the governance gaps that undoubtedly will occur? What will be the relevance of due diligence instruments as the VGGT and FPIC? What lessons can the land governance community offer after a decade of addressing land grabs and regulating investment and who is willing to listen to these?


Learn more: LANDac Resources

LANDac Online Encounter 2020

Between the 29th June and 3rd July 2020, LANDac brought the global land governance community together to reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to other crises, such as climate change. Key notes Prof Jun Borras spoke about ‘Changing the Climate of Global Land Politics’, whereas Prof Doreen Stabinsky and Peter Riggs outlined the possible pathways to reduce global warming, with a focus on the land sector. Read the conference report here.


LANDac Seminar on Climate Change Displacement (2018)

Around 25 experts from academia, civil society and the public sector gathered in Utrecht on the 4th of October 2018, for a seminar on climate change displacement.  The seminar was kicked off by Scott Leckie (Displacement Solutions), and was followed by speakers Hugo Hooijer (Oxfam Novib) and Annelies Zoomers (Utrecht University / LANDac) Read the full report here.


LANDac Seminar Adapting to Climate Change: Community-based Adaptation in Multi-stakeholder Landscapes (2017) 

This report details the proceedings of the seminar “Adapting to Climate Change”, held in Utrecht on the 7th of December 2017. The conference was co-organised by LANDac, Utrecht University and NWO’s research programme “Towards more inclusive, cooperative and participative climate change interventions in Kenya, Ghana and Burkina Faso”. Keynoye speakers: Arun Agrawal and Jun Borras. Read the full report here.


LANDac Conference: Climate change interventions as a source of conflict, competing claims and new mobilities (2016)

On the 24 and 25th of November 2016 LANDac, NWO and Utrecht University organised this conference on climate change interventions, with the aim to better understand the impacts of climate change-related investments and exploring how to prevent and resolve conflicts, both in urban and rural settings. Read the full conference report here.


LANDac conference: Climate-smart development in the South (2010)

On the 5th of November 2010, International Development Studies (IDS) of Utrecht University organised its 7th annual “knowledge for development conference” for experts and students in development policy, practice and research. This year’s topic was ‘climate smart development’. The seminar aimed to give an overview of climate change policies that are currently implemented by developing countries, and to discuss the implications of these policies for equitable and sustainable development. This report gives a summary of the presentations and discussions during the day.


Other Resources

More resources will be added soon!

IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land

This IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) addresses greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in land-based ecosystems, land use and sustainable land management in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation, desertification, land degradation and food security. Read more here.


CLARA: Missing Pathways to 1.5°C. The role of the land sector in ambitious climate action

This report provides an alternate response to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s request to the IPCC to analyse impacts of warming to 1.5°C and related greenhouse gas emission pathways. Prepared by representatives of the Climate Land Ambition and Rights Alliance (CLARA), the report responds specifically to the concern that many IPCC pathways rely heavily on untested mitigation approaches. CLARA’s report confines solution pathways to low-risk land-sector approaches.


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