Agriculture

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Is There a Human Right to Land?

For people around the world, land is a source of food, shelter, and livelihoods. Given their importance, land rights are surely human rights—right?

Replacing production of rice with other, less water-intensive crops is one of the factors that could feed more people using farmland that already exists. Photo: Amol Hatwar via Flickr

Swapping Where Crops are Grown Could Feed an Extra 825 Million People

It could also reduce water stress, according to a new study that includes 14 major food crops from around the world.

by |November 6, 2017
Kiro samples the walls of the cave.

In Biblical Land, Searching for Droughts Past and Future

Human-influenced climate warming has already reduced rainfall and increased evaporation in the Mideast, worsening water shortages. Up to now, climate scientists had projected that rainfall could decline another 20 percent by 2100. But the Dead Sea cores suggest that things could become much worse, much faster.

by |October 31, 2017
Near the foot of Israel's Mount Sodom, Lamont geoscientist Steven Goldstein (left) and Mordechai Stein of the Geological Survey of Israel inspect a salt cave thought to be 6 million to 7 million years old.

Photo Essay: The Dead Sea, Living Waters and Megadrought

Thousands of years before Biblical times, during a period when temperatures were unusually high, the lands around the Dead Sea now occupied by Israel, Jordan and surrounding nations suffered megadroughts far worse than any recorded by humans. Warming climate now threatens to return such conditions to this already hard-pressed region.

by |October 31, 2017
PixaBay (corn field under blue sky)

3 Uses for OpenLandContracts.org

Kaitlin Cordes from the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment shares some of the ways she uses this repository of investor-state contracts.

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Reflecting on OpenLandContracts.org’s First Two Years

Kaitlin Cordes from the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment looks back at the progress made by the repository of land investment contracts—and looks ahead to the challenges that await.

In the chilly 24-hour daylight of a spring night, Lamont-Doherty climatologist William D’Andrea surveys Borgpollen, an inland bay on the island of Vestvagoya. Connected to the Atlantic Ocean by a series of passages, the bay once was home to Vikings and their seagoing ships. Some of the islands’ best crop and grazing land is in surrounding hills and valleys, but it was often marginal, depending on weather.

Photo Essay: Climate Change, Sea Level and the Vikings

A thousand years ago, powerful Viking chieftans flourished in Norway’s Lofoten Islands, above the Arctic Circle. In an environment frequently hovering on the edge of survivability, small shifts in climate or sea level could mean life or death. People had to constantly adapt, making their living from the land and the sea as best they could.

by |September 26, 2017
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Lorenzo Cotula and Thierry Berger On Transparency around Land Investment Contracts

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) spoke with Lorenzo Cotula and Thierry Berger about OpenLandContracts.org, the challenges and opportunities stakeholders face in promoting greater transparency around land investments, and how effective use of disclosed information can be promoted.

TZ arb blog - from pixabay

Not So Sweet: Tanzania Confronts Arbitration over Large-Scale Sugarcane and Ethanol Project

The legal battle underscores the challenges that arise when governments, international investors, and the rights of local communities are at odds.

Africa's Sahel region could suddenly get far more rainfall as global warming proceeds, says a new study. Here, farmers in Mali, one of the countries potentially affected, harvest okra. (Francesco Fiondella/International Research Institute for Climate and Society)

Warming Climate Could Abruptly Increase Rain in Africa’s Sahel

Climate change could turn one of Africa’s driest regions wet, according to a new study. Scientists have found evidence in computer simulations for a possible abrupt change in the Sahel, a region long characterized by aridity and political instability. In the study, just published in the journal Earth System Dynamics, the authors detected a self-amplifying… read more

by |July 5, 2017