The Power of Smallholder Land Rights to Combat Climate Change

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Photo courtesy of Groman123 from https://www.flickr.com/photos/pkirtz/21038826799/
Dec 16, 2015

Last weekend the world rejoiced over the historic, long-awaited climate-change agreement reached at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21). While the cooperation of 190 countries around a singular issue, especially one as pressing as climate change, should be applauded, the COP21 pact is missing something major: the role of agriculture.

This year is on target to be the hottest in recorded history. Just in the past few months, we have watched El Nino, which is likely to be one of the strongest on record, create unpredictable and chaotic weather patterns, taking a tremendous toll on harvests and pushing millions into extreme poverty and emergency levels of food insecurity. Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in decades, with predictions of at least 15 million people requiring emergency food assistance by early 2016. As climate change continues to threaten global stability, it pressures the international community to enact creative solutions. One solution that hasn’t received enough attention is increasing land rights for smallholder farmers, particularly for women in the developing world.

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