MORE THAN LAND
LAND AND PEACEBUILDING
Land is often at the core of conflict. Changes relating to land-rights and land-use systems – for example in agriculture – can lead to competition and exclusion, and can play a major role in causing (sometimes violent) conflict. Alternatively, people displaced by conflict may want to return to their land. In many conflict situations, there is a lack of clarity over the land rights of displaced people, and a lack of equitable remedy where land has been unfairly acquired. This leads to higher risks of further destabilizing already fragile states.
LAND RIGHTS IN THE HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE
In the aftermath of both natural disaster and conflict, reconstruction and resettlement policies and programmes must be inclusive of women and those who are landless – some of the poorest and most marginalized people in the country. Especially in the case of climate-related disasters, such as storms or floods, it is important that authorities ensure that affected communities become stronger and more resilient in the face of future events.
Unless the fundamental issue of security of land tenure is addressed, the poorest and most vulnerable people – those most affected by climate-related disasters – are at risk of being left out of any lasting recovery and rehabilitation.
CLIMATE CHANGE RESILIENCE
Land rights are an important factor for climate change action
The economist and climate change expert, Nicholas Stern stated that securing Indigenous land tenure in Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia could avoid the release of an estimated 42.8–59.7 Mt CO2 (Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide) per year through avoided deforestation. This is equivalent to taking between 9 and 12.6 million cars off the road.
Land rights are also crucial for climate change adaptation and resilience. Climate change impact is very visible in many developing countries. Rainy seasons are changing or failing entirely, droughts are becoming more persistent, crops are failing because of higher temperatures and sudden rainfall can be so intense that it destroys crops. Without secured land rights, small-scale farmers (particularly women) are not able to invest in changes that are crucial for climate change adaptation and therefore local food security.
In addition to highlighting the importance of land rights in climate change debates, Oxfam designs, implements and promotes integrated approaches to managing and governing land and water resources. Oxfam strongly beliefs that sustainable development can only succeed if poverty eradication and environmental sustainability are pursued together, and always from an angle of social justice; be it between rich and poor countries or between corporate interests and those of local communities.
The Integrated Landscape Management is an approach that aims to balance competing demands on land through the implementation of adaptive and integrated management systems. An integrated landscape management involves long-term collaboration among different groups of land managers and stakeholders to achieve their multiple objectives and expectations within the landscape. This not only addresses the physical characteristic features of the landscape itself, Oxfam also frames a landscape approach in terms of social justice and human rights. This highlights that we need to approach land-use hand-in-hand with tackling the inequality and injustice that make poor women and men more vulnerable to climate risks in the first place.