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Governing Land for a Dynamic Earth (GLADE)

2021- Now

Property rights play a central role in shaping urban land governance, yet their impact on adaptation to climate change remains under researched, theorized, and debated. Our ongoing research examines how dominant property regimes constrain large-scale, collective adaptation that is socially just and ecologically restorative. Can the systems of property rights that helped produce climate change and inequitable vulnerability also enable transformative adaptation? If existing rights regimes produce undesirable or perverse outcomes, what alternatives would enable settlements to move towards more just outcomes? 

            Dominant western privatized property rights regimes, globalized through colonialism and hegemonic models of liberal development and urbanization, pose three major difficulties as settlements seek to adapt to climate change. First, the assumption that land is stable and unchanging forms the basis of land governance institutions geared towards property value maximization, land use fiscalization, and infrastructure development. Second, these regimes atomize land ownership by privileging individual property rights, suppressing cooperative tenures, and constraining collective action. Third, these regimes focus on land commodification and reduce the myriad cultural, social, and ecological ties among human societies and between human and non-human groups into the single indicator of capital.

            This project, a collaboration with Dr. Zachary Lamb (UC Berkeley) and Dr. Robert Olshansky (University of Illinois Urbana Champaign), seeks to theorize the relationship between property rights and adaptation. It aims to develop a network of collaborators who study these issues around the world and develop an empirical basis for examining how property rights regimes and land tenure shape climate vulnerability and adaptation.


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