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Land and Climate Interactions: Shared Findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) Reports

Climate change is arguably one of the greatest challenges of the twenty first century. Understanding the relationship between land and climate vulnerability is required for an appropriate, coordinated and timely response.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change – recently launched the Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems at its 50th Session held between August 2-7, 2019.

In May 2019, the GLTN, whose secretariat is hosted by UN-Habitat, in collaboration with a well established Partner, RMIT University in Melbourne Australia, released a landmark publication, Land Tenure and Climate Vulnerability (2019).

These two reports both examine the inter-relationships between land tenure and climate vulnerability. Some of the shared findings include:

  • Varying degrees of tenure security in urban informal settlements complicate disaster mitigation and response. Climate risks increase the requirements for effective land use planning and settlements that boost tenure security, with direct involvement of residents, improved use of public land, and innovative collaboration with private and traditional land owners.
  • The climate change-human mobility nexus heightens tensions over scarce resources, a further destabilising influence in fragile states experiencing socio-economic and political unrest.
  • Inclusive governance for sustainable development is crucial, with a focus on equity and a human right to access to social and ecological resources. Women have unique challenges surrounding land rights and capacity to respond to climate hazards and need to be included in sustainable land management processes.
  • Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) can play a key role in understanding climate processes and impacts, adaptation to climate change, sustainable land management across different ecosystems, and enhancement of food security.
  • The over-exploitation of forests is an ongoing trend, and secure rights to land and forest resources can facilitate efforts to stabilise shifting cultivation and promote more sustainable resource use if appropriate technical and market support is available.
  • Smallholder farmers are often reluctant to make long-term investments that could improve their climate resilience because of tenure insecurity. Landscape governance and resource tenure reforms at farm and community levels can facilitate and incentivise planning for landscape management and enable the integration of adaptation and mitigation strategy.
  • Pastoralists face challenges from the erosion of traditional communal rangeland tenure, which increases vulnerability to climate change and perpetuates dryland degradation. Strengthening communal land tenure rights and collective action that permits mobility results in greater capacity to withstand climatic volatility.

We invite you to read these two critical reports and learn more about why climate-resilient land governance is a critical component in enhancing community resilience towards environmental variability. The two reports can be found at  https://www.ipcc.ch/report/srccl/ and https://gltn.net/download/land-tenure-and-climate-vulnerability/.