Land Matters was a month-long global conversation on Devex during September 2013. While this particular campaign to raise awareness about land rights for global development has since come to a conclusion, the importance of land remains a key issue for all development practitioners working toward a more sustainable future.

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for the environment

People need the right incentives to safeguard the environment. And with concerns over climate change mounting, there is greater interest in carbon storage through reduced deforestation, climate-smart agriculture and other innovative solutions. For resource users to participate in projects designed to combat climate change, compensation schemes must be based on clear property rights and land ownership.

How to use land sustainably

How to use land sustainably

Securing land rights encourages the sustainable stewardship of land — not just to protect the biodiversity of a fragile ecosystem. Here’s why.

Who owns nature? A case study from Kenya

Who owns nature? A case study from Kenya

Natural resources are at the heart of many conflicts — including in Kenya's Mau highlands, where an internationally funded development project has helped to bring peace and safeguard the environment while encouraging villagers to take advantage of the country's new land rights. A guest opinion by Tetra Tech's Ian Deshmukh.

Land matters for the environment — especially the commons

Land matters for the environment — especially the commons

Instead of relying on big government or private interest to manage vital resources, let local communities take the lead, writes Jagdeesh Puppala, chief executive at the Foundation for Ecological Security.

Climate change and land use: Making the difficult choice

Climate change and land use: Making the difficult choice

How can we mitigate natural disasters and climate change through better land use? Governments now in denial must change their mindset and adopt cohesive disaster risk reduction policies, writes Rolinda Co from World Vision.

Mapping the Future of Land Rights for Global Development

Mapping the Future of Land Rights for Global Development

Land matters for sustainable economies, livelihoods, human rights, and the environment- the development community cannot afford for land to be a trend. Expert panelists from DAI, Chemonics International, USAID, and Omidyar Network sat down with Devex to discuss what land rights mean for the future of global development.

Must reads

Tetra Tech's leadership on global land issues

Land tenure and property rights, which have been on the development agenda for decades, are now gaining more traction as they are increasingly recognized as cross-cutting for a broad spectrum of development challenges.

Emerging REDD+ programs need additional emphasis on land tenure

Stronger commitments and strategies are needed to address land and forestry tenure challenges, according to the World Resources Institute. A lack of clear strategies to address land tenure challenges could significantly hinder efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Here's why.

Post-2015: Why is the water-energy-land nexus important for the future development agenda?

What are the linkage between water, energy and land to balance social, economic, and environmental concerns? An issue brief from the German Development Insitute.

Ecoagriculture: Strategies to feed the world and save wild biodiversity

A groundbreaking look at innovative ways in which the rural poor can produce food without wrecking the environment. A book by Jeffrey McNeely.

China’s polluted farmlands carry the seeds of change

This article talks about soil pollution in China and how it is adversely affecting food production. A substantial amount of the soil has failed to meet national soil quality standards. The reason: China's farmers are now the largest consumers of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, according to the article, because without land tenure rights, they lack the incentive to farm sustainably.

Tenure, governance, and natural resource management: Contributions to USAID development objectives

This USAID issue brief explains how secure land tenure and resource rights are key drivers of biodiversity and sustainable natural resource management. Where these rights are poorly defined and/or poorly enforced, natural resources and ecosystems can be quickly degraded because incentives to protect resources are weak or absent. This insecurity can lead to overgrazing of pastureland, poaching of wildlife, deforestation, ineffective watershed management, and poorly planned extractive industry investments, among other outcomes.

Regenerating agriculture: Policies and practices for sustainability and self-reliance

In this book, Jules Pretty, who helped to set up the University of Essex's Centre for Environment and Society, describes 25 policies that help farmers become more self-reliant and sustainable.

A stronger UNCCD for a land-degradation neutral world

This issue brief from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification talks about the importance of land and soil to food security and poverty reduction and calls on the international community to create a “land-degradation neutral” world.

The land governance assessment framework: Identifying and monitoring good practice in the land sector

Seventy-five percent of the world's poor live in rural areas, and most are involved in agriculture. The World Bank's agriculture and rural development publication series presents analysis of issues that affect the role of agriculture, including livestock, fisheries and forestry, as a source of economic development, rural livelihoods and environmental services.

Rights and wrongs in Cameroon's community forests

Forests support the livelihoods of many Cameroonians, yet people’s rights to use and benefit from forest products are tenuous, as legal protections for their customary rights have been weak. In conjunction with national NGOs and international organizations, the government of Cameroon is working to improve forest management, registration and financing to benefit communities.

Palm oil expansion threatens Congo Basin forests

This story tells of the destruction to the environment caused by the cultivation of palm oil. First in Southeast Asia and now in the Congo basin, palm oil projects have resulted in the deforestation of millions of hectares in Malaysia and Indonesia and endangering Sumatra tigers. Despite this, government in the Congo have invited palm oil companies in, believing it will lead to jobs.

Climate change, property rights, and resource governance: Emerging implications for USG policies and programming

A USAID issue brief explains how climate change will provoke adjustments in the value of land and other natural resources and simultaneously intensify human migration and displacement. These forces have the potential to destabilize governance and property rights regimes, spur the evolution of both statutory and customary tenure arrangements, and open the door for powerful actors to expand their claims on land and other natural resources.

Improving livelihoods by conserving mangroves

More than 900 families in Ecuador depend on crabbing in the mangroves of the Gulf of Guayaquil. Here's how the Ministry of the Environment is working with local and international partners such as Chemonics to protect $60 million in crabbing-related activities while preventing mangrove deforestation.

Rights to trees and livelihoods in Niger

Beginning with the French colonial government, laws and regulations in Niger made all trees state property, and penalized farmers who felled or pruned trees. The result: trees were abandoned, and people became more vulnerable to the droughts that periodically swept across the Sahel. More recently, though, things have been changing.

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Cover photo by: Vasily Merkushev