Does strengthening land governance align with fair climate transitions? | Land Portal

Communities in developing countries are increasingly exposed to the effects of climate change. Although they contribute little to greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are at the forefront of climate change and the associated extreme events. They are faced with events that undermine their food security, such as droughts and floods, but also increased pressure on land due to climate-induced migration. In this session, we delved into the nexus of climate change and land governance. We explored if and how the impact of climate change and other transitions can be incorporated into land governance instruments and processes in a fair and just manner. We unpacked how LAND-at-scale project interventions address climate change in the implementation of land governance tools to make local communities climate resilient.


Key Takeaways

  • Context is important in terms of climate hazards, community vulnerability and levels of extent of exposure.
  • There are encouraging stories, but there are also risks.
  • Community engagement in planning processes and decision-making is vital to capture their knowledge, create awareness, and empower them.
  • Main land governance tools used for building climate resilience are land-use/city planning, wetland management planning, and increasing tenure security for indigenous communities who apply sustainable land practices.


Presentation 1

Framing the land governance – climate transition nexus

Richard Sliuzas, Professor Urban Planning and disaster risk reduction, University of Twente


LAND-at-scale is conducting a thematic study on land governance and climate resilience. The main research question is How can land governance (through improved tenure security and (urban) land use planning) contribute to effective climate change mitigation and adaptation and increased climate resilience but also vice versa How can increased climate resilience (through climate change mitigation and adaptation) contribute to land governance. It starts from the IPCC AR5 framework depicting how Climate (natural vulnerability and anthropogenic climate change) and socio-economic processes (adaptation and mitigation actions and governance) impact hazards, vulnerability, and exposure. Climate change and poor land governance have different direct effects, but they result in similar secondary effects such as displacement, conflict, food insecurity and loss of biodiversity. Responsible land management is to mutually align tenure security and planning instruments. Land use and land tenure can mitigate climate hazards as well as serve as adaptation measures.


Presentation 2

Land governance to improve climate resilience of IDP communities - the case of Somalia Karel Boers, Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator, IOM


“Somalia has contributed to less than 0.003% of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet it is at the forefront of climate change and climatic shocks.”


Climate change is the main driver of the immense stream of internal displacement in Somalia. The ‘decision’ to leave the host community should not be seen as a rational choice. Rather, it should be seen as an accumulation of negative parameters, which make life and survival in the communities of origin difficult and then impossible. Due to the irreversible land degradation in the IDPs areas of origin, in Somalia displacement is characterised by a permanent nature: return cannot be considered a solution. When coping capacities are exhausted, people migrate from rural areas to primary or secondary urban centres, accelerating unplanned urbanisation which generates or increases social inequalities, unemployment, poverty and gender discrimination: without proper urban management, maladaptive short-term mitigation strategies make DACs even more vulnerable to adverse climate impact in the future. Using urban management laws and city strategies, government can implement durable plans for site development of, and tenure security for, IDPs. 


Presentation 3

Climate resilient land-use planning for joint adaptation and mitigation at community level Borges Chivambu, Centro Terra Virma (CTV)


The objective of our intervention is to scale legal literacy at community and district level. Climate change awareness is low, and communities do not act to adapt or mitigate. In the last few years local adaptation plans have been introduce as new tool. But, these plans focus on social aspects and don’t talk about climate change. We want to bring the issue of climate change and resilience to the local government. How do you react to cyclones, droughts using the local adaptation plans? Govt does not know the answer. They also don’t know how to implement the local adaptation plans. We can help with implementing but integrate this with climate change. Resilience is about how you bounce back. After the cyclones, people are more aware. The question is now, how do you react?

A second tool are district land use plans. These are outdated and expensive to draw up and maintain. We help districts to revive and update these plans, going into the field to understand the realities of the communities. One of the elements we point out is to reserve areas of land for resettlement of people who had to relocate due to climate events.


Presentation 4

Community based approach for sustainable wetland management; Experiences from LAND-at-scale Uganda

Jordana Wamboga, Human Rights Lawyer, Uganda Community Based Association for Women and Children’s Welfare (UCOBAC)


LAND-at-scale applies a community approach in Butaleja district where 40% of land is wetland. It implements two aspects: land registration and wetland management. Wetlands are important resource for the local population through agriculture and fishing. But the status of wetlands is suffering due to floods, drying, loss of biodiversity due to severe degradation, and conflicts over wetland use. Ugandan law keeps wetlands as state property for communal benefit, but in practice landlords use this as private ownership with rental agreements. The project assists the community with the application for a communal wetland user permit, which is to promote wise use of wetlands. It is an elaborate process that involves the community in every step of the way. Also empower the communities to resolve their own issues (e.g., penalties have been determined by the communities themselves) and involve government officials.  Through this community-based approach the community is empowered and buys in to conservation of the wetland. The main challenge is interference by government, and thus working closely with them is important. A successful wetland management plan requires a mindset among community, leaders, and government.


Presentation 5

Livelihood opportunities using natural resources in harmony with indigenous knowledge in Colombia

Maria Clara van der Hammen (Tropenbos) and Andres Bernal (ICCO Colombia)


LAND-at-scale works with Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities who have the right to communal lands to establish their boundaries. The indigenous communities need to increase their land for their livelihoods and together they explore opportunities to expand their territories. Firstly calculate the seize of collective land titles to support their livelihood strategies. Second intercultural agreements for management of shared territories to manage scarce water supply. Third land ordering plans of municipalities that can articulate proposals from communities.

These communities have a lot of climatic knowledge captured in calendars. These calendars no longer apply, so the communities are very aware that the climate is changing. The first example of how livelihood opportunities are using natural resources in harmony with indigenous knowledge is the Koreguaje women who are not part of any governance structure. They highlighted the lack of diversity of seeds, following which they made inventories and exchanged seeds between each other. The second example is an area where indigenous people moved back to their original land. After a few decades the land has been regenerated, reforested and new micro-climate established that allows coffee growing.

Scaling takes place through empowerment and through policies. Documenting their own knowledge to start.



This session showed encouraging stories but there are risks. Indigenous resources: how do we treat such knowledge and protect them from external threats?


“Land is alive, but also LAND-at-scale is alive.”

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