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The IPCC’s special report on climate change and land: What’s in it for Latin America?

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About this report

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 2019 (www.ipcc.ch/srccl). We refer to the IPCC’s report in short here as the Special Report on Climate Change and Land. 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 Latin America and the world.
This publication offers a guide to the IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land prepared for decision makers in Latin America by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano and SouthSouthNorth. This is not an official IPCC publication.

The IPCC’s own Summary for Policy-Makers, www.ipcc.ch/srccl, focuses principally on global issues and trends. This report distils the richest material available in the reports from Latin America 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, CDKN has benefited from review by IPCC lead authors and other expert reviewers to ensure fidelity to the original report (see Acknowledgements).

We have extracted the Latin America-specific data, trends and analysis directly from the Special Report on Climate Change and Land for this guide. In a few places, we have included supplementary material from recently published research that extends and explains the points made in the IPCC’s Special Report. We have clearly labelled this supplementary material ‘Beyond the IPCC’. This guide responds to widespread demand among CDKN’s Latin American partner networks for regionspecific information.


  • The climate and land interact with and influence each other.

  • Dryland areas are expected to become more vulnerable to desertification in Latin America.

  • Desertification has implications for food security and poverty in Latin America.

  • Community and policy responses can combat and degradation.

  • Managing land, value chains and climate risks can deliver climate adaptation, mitigation and development benefits.

  • 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.