Day 1 | Dec 6   10.45 - 12.15

A rights-based approach to comprehensive land use planning

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)


There are clear and evidenced links between climate change, human rights, land use changes, and natural resource governance. The session explored these connections while discussing what a rights-based framework means for comprehensive land use planning and landscape issues, particularly in the context of ongoing UNFCCC negotiations on how land should be addressed in future international climate legal regimes.

Land and natural resources are central to providing livelihood security for a majority of the world’s population.Climate action involving land and forests must take these issues into account in a comprehensive way, focusing both on mitigation and on adaptation. The Cancun Agreements signified an important first step towards applying a rights-based approach in the climate regime. However, emerging negotiations on land sector present an opportunity to move from a recognition of human rights, to an approach led by human rights. This rights-based approach requires a framework that is based on fundamental principles of ambition; food security and equity; and rights.

Representatives from civil society, governments, academia, indigenous peoples’ and  local community groups discussed what this approach means to them and how the different interpretations are influencing the land sector discussions in the REDD+ negotiations and in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). Audience participation during the discussion was welcomed.

Presentations focused on:

  • Principles for a rights-based approach to climate finance and comprehensive land use planning
  • Case studies on land use issues (e.g. land use conflicts, participating in decision-making, negotiating indigenous land use agreements)
  • Existing principles for existing land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and how they tie in with the proposed human-rights approach to land use.

Key questions addressed:

  1. What does a “Rights-Based Approach” to land use mean?
  2. How do you evaluate such a rights-based approach? Is there a framework that can be applied?
  3. What needs to happen at the policy level to ensure that a rights-based approach is adopted?

Background reading:

Comprehensive land-use planning: A rights-based approach: Discussion paper for addressing the land sector under the ADP

Frequently Asked Questions on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Development Cooperation; OHCHR, 2009

A Human Rights-Based Approach to Climate Finance, International Policy Analysis 20102

Bucki, M., et al. 2012. Assessing REDD+ performance of countries with low monitoring capacities: the matrix approach. Environmental Research Letters 7, 014031.