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The IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land: What’s in it for South Asia?

This publication offers a guide to the IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land prepared for decision makers in South Asia by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), ICLEI-South Asia and SouthSouthNorth. This is not an official IPCC publication.
Growing Beans, Western Nepal


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Climate Change and Land: An IPCC Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems in August 2019.

The Special Report was a response to proposals from governments and observer organisations to the IPCC. It assesses the existing science to date on how greenhouse gases are released and absorbed by land-based ecosystems, and the science on land use and sustainable land management in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation, desertification, land degradation and food security. The findings are of great importance to decision-makers across Africa and the world.

This publication unpacks the Special Report for decision-makers in South Asia.The publication also includes supplementary material from recently published research that extends and explains the points made in the IPCC’s Special Report. This guide responds to widespread demand among CDKN’s South Asian partner networks for region-specific information.

*Download the full publication from the right-hand column. The key messages from the publication are provided below. See the full text for much more.

About this publication

This is not an official IPCC publication. The IPCC’s own Summary for Policy-Makers focuses principally on global issues and trends.

This report distils the richest material available on South Asia from the 1,300 pages of the Special Report. The publication has not been through the comprehensive governmental approval process that IPCC endorsement requires. However, the expert research team has benefited from review by IPCC lead authors in their personal capacities and other expert reviewers to ensure fidelity to the original report (see Acknowledgements in the full text).

In a few places in the report, the authors have included supplementary material from recently published research that extends and explains the points made in the IPCC’s Special Report. The authors have clearly labelled this supplementary material ‘Beyond the IPCC’.

Explore a summary presentation of this publication:

IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land: What’s in it for South Asia? from Climate and Development Knowledge Network

Lessons Learnt

Some of the IPCC’s key messages, which are explored in the guide include:

  • The climate and land interact with and influence each other.
    • Climate change affects the land and conditions on land affect the climate.
    • Unsustainable land management contributes to global warming.
    • Climate change reduces the productivity of land.
  • Dryland areas are expected to become more vulnerable to desertification in South Asia.
  • Desertification has implications for food security and poverty in South Asia.
    • Lives and livelihoods depend on healthy land.
    • Desertification has implications for development in Asia.
  • Community and policy responses can combat and degradation.
    • See page 14 of the full text for approaches to reversing land degradation, and for combatting desertification and erosion in drylands.
    • See page 14 of the full text for specific measures to combat soil erosion.
  • Managing land, value chains and climate risks can deliver climate adaptation, mitigation and development benefits.
    • See page 17 of the full text for some actions that can minimise pressure on land.
    • Some actions increase competition for land. See page 19 of the full text for ‘best practices’ that can reduce the pressure.
    • Coordinated action on climate change and food can address dangerous climate change and end hunger.
  • Insecure property rights and lack of access to credit and agricultural advisory services hamper progress – especially by women.

  • The skills and knowledge of women and marginalised groups are not yet sufficiently recognised.

  • Integrated governance is needed to maximise the benefits of land and water.

  • Emissions reductions in other sectors are vital to relieve pressure on land.

In summary, if we care for the land, it will care for us. If we nurture healthy soils and productive and diverse ecosystems the land can more effectively regulate the local, regional and global climate. It is possible to manage land responsibly to provide food, fibre, fuel and the other benefits that sustain human resilience and wellbeing directly. However, sustainable land management needs to happen in the context of cross-cutting policies and governance that relieve pressure on the land and enable human society to pursue its range of vital development goals in less ‘land hungry’ ways.

Suggested citation

Dupar, M. (2019). IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land: What’s in it for South Asia? Cape Town: Climate and Development Knowledge Network, Overseas Development Institute, ICLEI-South Asia and SouthSouthNorth

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