The impacts of climate change affect the most vulnerable. While highly dependent on natural resources, they also often lack institutional frameworks to increase living standards and achieve food security. Ownership of land is a key issue, and providing secure access to land and other natural resources is essential for achieving the World Food Summit Plan of Action and the Millennium Development Goals.
Rural landlessness is often the best predictor of poverty and hunger – the poorest are usually landless or land-poor. Women are one of the groups that often have fewer and weaker rights to land because of biases in formal law, in customs and in the division of labour in society. Improved access may allow a family to produce food for household food consumption, thus helping to ensure food security.
Central to climate change adaptation is resilience – the ability to recover from shocks and adjust to changing circumstances. Sustainable assets like access to land and natural resources help to increase the resilience of the poor. Secure access to land often gives a valuable safety net as a source of shelter, food and income in times of hardship.
Land tenure is also essential for long term land management planning, which is important for mitigating climate change. Farmers are more likely to invest in improving their land through soil protection measures, planting trees and improving pastures if they have secure tenure and can benefit from their investments.
The FAO’s current work on land tenure includes investigations of the land tenure implications of climate change scenarios and of policy options in relation to the rapid growth of land use for bioenergy production; land tenure in emergency and post-emergency work; compulsory purchase of land and compensation; state land management; low-cost land tenure security; good governance in land administration; and making land information accessible for the poor.