Globally, the impacts of climate change and society’s response are significantly affecting resource tenure governance, the rights of communities and people, and their livelihoods. In turn, resource tenure and property rights issues are widely recognized as crucial in the success of many climate change-related initiatives. Interventions that strengthen resource tenure and property rights governance can help reduce vulnerability; increase the resilience of people and ecosystems in the face of climate impacts; and promote resource use practices that achieve adaptation, mitigation, and development objectives.
Using policy engagement, pilot interventions, in-depth case studies, and quantitative and qualitative analysis, the USAID Tenure and Global Climate Change project is advancing knowledge and practice on how land tenure and resource rights relate to global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Through work in over ten countries, common themes have emerged related to: using mobile applications to secure tenure (MAST); supporting the recognition and documentation of customary rights; using pilot activities to inform national policy discussions in an iterative fashion; and supporting the clarification of government and local resource rights and responsibilities in areas where there are overlapping or ambiguous laws and customs, such as coastal and marine zones, wildlife management areas and forested areas.
USAID is supporting communities and households in the Eastern Province of Zambia to document their customary rights to agricultural land and communal resources, as well as supporting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) extension activities. Project work in Zambia is being evaluated through a randomized-control impact evaluation to better understand how tenure activities influence CSA adoption. CSA practices rely on sustained commitment to land stewardship. Yet, for farmers to be willing to invest time and energy into these long-term land management practices, they need tenure security. Additional work across a rural chiefdom is exploring the impacts of tenure security on reducing deforestation and improving wildlife management. The project activities are engaging with civil society, government, and donors to promote the integration of lessons learned from customary land rights documentation into national processes.
TGCC is also helping ensure the clarification and respect for rights related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and incentivizing afforestation/reforestation (REDD+). Guidance and national legal analyses in Guatemala, Honduras, Nepal, and Panama are helping governments, the private sector, and intergovernmental partners clarify who has rights to participate in, and benefit from, forest carbon activities, and how to design successful activities that account for tenure.
In Burma, the project is contributing to the development of a National Land Use Policy (NLUP) and its subsequent implementation. TGCC’s support has been central to the ground-breaking multi-stakeholder consultative process that led to adoption of the NLUP, even at a time of historic government transition. To advance lessons for policy implementation, TGCC developed models for documenting and protecting customary and communal rights, and approaches that build constructive relationships between local communities and local government on land management. In particular, the project is addressing the importance of women’s tenure rights, including rights to access, use, and manage forest resources.
TGCC is collaborating with private sector actors to support social and environmental goals under Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 commitments. This emerging work with cocoa companies in Ghana, and the beef sector in Paraguay is exploring the deforestation risks related to smallholder and community tenure insecurity in commodity supply chains. In 2017 TGCC will focus on actions that companies can take to mitigate the risks of insecure tenure and deforestation in their supply chains.
Finally, building on lessons from USAID’s deep history in land tenure and property rights, TGCC project staff are supporting USAID missions to assess marine resource tenure systems and develop interventions that lead to achievement of biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, and resource productivity objectives. The governance of marine resources affects the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally. The application of secure tenure and property rights to coastal and marine systems has the potential to strengthen programming and build the resilience of the people and institutions who rely on these resources. Within this coastal ecosystem, mangrove forests hold immense carbon stocks and face unique threats as they often have ambiguous and overlapping governance regimes among communities, government agencies and private sector actors. TGCC is supporting resource tenure analyses of mangrove systems alongside the development of pilot intervention activities in Vietnam.
- Pilot land tenure interventions that strengthen land rights as an enabling condition for promoting the adoption of “climate smart” land-use practices
- Clarify legal and regulatory rights to benefits derived from environmental services under REDD+ and other Payment for Environmental Service (PES) schemes
- Research and scope studies on tenure, property rights and GCC mitigation and adaptation
- Strengthen women’s property rights under REDD+
- Support national and local organizations engaged in strengthening land tenure and property rights