The importance of different land tenure systems for farmers’ response to climate change: A systematic review | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
October 2020
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Climate change increasingly affects agricultural systems, making it necessary for farmers to adapt to changing climatic conditions. An important element shaping farmers’ adaptation decisions and their vulnerability is their respective land tenure system. Especially land tenure security can strongly influence farmers’ incentives for adapting to climate change. We review the literature to understand to what extent tenure security and other land tenure characteristics affect farmers’ ability to withstand climate change and how climate change is operationalised. 106 mostly peer-reviewed studies are examined using thematic network analysis and a network of interactions between land tenure and climate change in farming contexts is devised. The results show that three main interactions link land tenure systems and climate change with regard to agricultural livelihoods: (i) land tenure characteristics influence farmers’ adaptation uptake, type and intensity, (ii) certain tenure settings contribute to vulnerability of different socio-demographic groups in agricultural systems, e.g. women, migrants and indigenous communities, and (iii) the perception of tenure security itself is affected by climate change. Yet, the concept of tenure security is poorly defined in most studies, at times resulting in misleading conclusions and leaving important research gaps with regard to optimal land tenure incentives for farmers’ adaptation response. Climate change is often simplistically integrated into the assessments, without validation and analysis of longer term trends. None of the studies reviewed provides a comprehensive and systematic treatment of the multiple dimensions linking climate change and land tenure. Further exploration and empirical validation of the connection between land tenure and climate change in agricultural systems is thus warranted. This should include a more critical engagement with the exigencies of climate change response for agricultural systems, such as the need for flexible approaches to deal with climatic uncertainty. The results of this review are relevant for informing adaptation policy, where sustainable land governance has an integral role to play. Designing smart land tenure interventions based on improved understanding of (local) interactions between land tenure and climate can support farmers in effectively addressing the

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Lisa Murken 

Christoph Gornott

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