Project on climate change, land grabbing and resource conflict

Climate change mitigation policies, land grabbing and conflict in fragile states: understanding intersections, exploring transformations in Myanmar and Cambodia
13 January 2014

TNI's Agrarian Justice Work Area and TNI's Burma Project are starting a major research on climate change mitigation policies, land grabbing and conflict in Burma and Cambodia, 2014-2017.

The interplay between climate change mitigation initiatives and land grabs

The social impacts of climate change mitigation strategies (biofuels, REDD+) and large-scale land acquisitions (land grabs) have captured the attention of scholars, practitioners, government and civil society actors. Most relevant research, however, investigates these processes separately and within discrete areas such as particular landholdings where dispossession or competing land resource claims occur.

This project expands the boundaries of the problem to the landscape level, believing that the intersection of these phenomena can produce social and ecological spill-over effects and chain reactions which in turn ignite new or aggravate old sets of competing claims and conflicts over resources within a much larger area. Through collaborative, case study action research, the project seeks to understand the interplay between climate change mitigation initiatives and land grabs from a landscape perspective – including spatial, social, ecological and institutional dimensions – and resulting trajectories of conflict and cooperation in two fragile states: Myanmar and Cambodia.

Capacity building

The project also seeks to influence these trajectories by helping to build capacity for development interventions that promote socially just and sustainable conflict management strategies in the case study areas and beyond.

These interventions will emerge through the collaboration of grassroots social movements, NGO and academic partners. They will reflect local understandings of justice, and they are likely to include actions at multiple scales. Analyzing international governance instruments to identify leverage points for action will inform these conflict management efforts in the two selected countries.

International knowledge network

Beyond the case study countries, the project seeks to contribute to theory about the more general conditions under which inclusive, landscape-level strategies for preventing or transforming resource conflicts can be achieved.

Contributing to building an international knowledge network will be an important step toward this goal. The project will achieve this partly through annual knowledge sharing workshops involving partners with experience resolving disputes over resource control in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as by sponsoring and linking with emerging research in other countries and regions.

Anticipated outcomes

The anticipated project outcomes are:

  • nuanced understanding of the spatial and institutional interplay of climate change mitigation initiatives, land grabbing and conflict; 
  • enhanced capacity of grassroots and civil society groups and local researchers to address resource conflicts through strategic collective action aimed at influencing policy and practice;
  • an emerging network of knowledge and practice dedicated to enabling more socially just and ecologically sustainable outcomes of the intersecting processes examined in the project.

The project is funded by the NWO and DFID through the CoCooN - Conflict and Cooperation in the Management of Climate Change - Integrated Project.

The lead coordinating institution is the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS).

The members of the consortium are: Chiang Mai University, Foodfirst Information & Action Network (FIAN), ICCO Southeast Asia, Paung Ku and Food Security Working Group (FWSG) in Burma CPDS, Equitable Cambodia in Cambodia and TNI.

For further information, please get in touch with Jenny Franco (jennycfranco [at] and Kevin Woods (woodsyk  [at]


photo by Ethan Crowley