Land Investments and Climate Change

Lead PI:

Unit Affiliation: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI)

Unknown start date - Ongoing
Project Type:

DESCRIPTION: The impacts of climate change, which stand to affect all of humanity, create a dire need for innovations in how humans access energy, food, and other resources, and in how the earth’s natural resources are used and preserved for climate change mitigation. Such innovations will regularly lead to changes in how lands and resources are used.

Investments in natural resources, including for food, energy, and other purposes, frequently require shifts in land use. These shifts can have detrimental climate impacts. For example, investment for agricultural commodities is a significant driver of deforestation, releasing carbon and contributing to climate change. Land use shifts also can have significant impacts on the people who rely on those lands. CCSI has prepared a blog explaining three key takeaways on the interactions between resource investments, land use, land rights, and climate change.

In addition, other land-intensive investments aimed at climate change mitigation, such as carbon finance/emission reduction projects, are becoming increasingly prominent. While potentially positive for the climate, these projects can also negatively affect individuals or communities and their rights to access lands and resources. At the same time, strengthening land rights, particularly for indigenous forest users, is arguably one of the most effective ways to limit deforestation and attendant climate impacts. In this context, CCSI’s work includes investigating how to apply better practices on sustainable investment and responsible business conduct to land-intensive investments aimed at climate change mitigation

OUTCOMES: A second blog prepared by CCSI explores how the potential impacts of renewable energy projects on the rights of local individuals and communities can be properly addressed.

These themes were also explored at CCSI’s 2016 Conference, on Climate Change and Sustainable Investment in Natural Resources: From Consensus to Action, and are discussed in a detailed outcome document from that conference, in a section on Land Use Transformation.