Why Land-Use matters

According to the UN Secretary-General, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (2021) is a “code red for humanity”: human-induced climate change is already affecting our life on earth with increasingly frequent extreme events in every region of the world. It is, thus, essential to work for a climate-resilient society while mitigating climate change aiming to reach a climate neutral planet.

The land sector plays a crucial role to reach the ambitious European Union (EU) climate targets by 2050, as set under the framework of the EU Green Deal strategy. Land, with its various uses including cropland, grassland, wetlands, forests, and settlements, can serve as a carbon sink when absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits, or a carbon source when releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Reaching climate neutrality means achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions in EU countries. This can be achieved mainly by cutting emissions. However, since not all emissions from all sectors can be neutralised, enhancing the carbon sink of the EU land sector is a needed strategy.

Implementing sustainable land-use and land management solutions as well as virtuous behavioural and lifestyle changes is critical to achieve climate change mitigation targets, positively affecting the role of land as a carbon sink. These solutions can also increase the resilience and adaptation capacity to extreme events, such as flooding, drought and water scarcity, which is crucial to reduce our vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change.

In this context, it is important for the actors involved in the land sector, including farmers, land-owners, researchers, policy-makers and citizens, to have access to information and knowledge on the most effective sustainable land-based solutions and behavioural changes.

The LAMS Catalogue

To this end, for RethinkAction, we created a catalogue of Land-based Adaptation and Mitigation Solutions (LAMS) to tackle climate change. Our aim was to include biophysical, environmental, and socio-economic information together with social and behavioural factors related to climate change, to make it suitable for multiple users and purposes.

The LAMS catalogue contains 60 solutions, identified from the analysis of policy documents at EU and local level (in the RethinkAction six case studies), combined with stakeholder and expert consultations. These solutions are related to land management (such as agroforestry, integrated water management, improved cropland, grazing and forest management), sustainable land use planning (including management of urban sprawl, the deployment of infrastructure for the use of renewable energy on land, the development of new sustainable transportation or afforestation practices), and behavioural change (like dietary change, reduced food waste, reduced energy use, or enhanced urban food systems).

The Methodology

Starting from the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land (2019) and other relevant scientific literature, the 60 LAMS included in the catalogue were further analysed and characterised according to the policy sector(s) they can be referred to (e.g., Agriculture, Biodiversity and ecosystem, Forestry, Energy, Building, Water, etc.), the level application in supply (solutions implemented for influencing how a certain demand for goods and/or services is met) and/or demand (solutions implemented for influencing the demand for goods and/or services like reducing the demand for electricity or shift in people’s diet), their main scope (i.e., adaptation and/or mitigation), the actors involved that have a direct contribution for a successful LAMS implementation (such as consumers, farmers, policymakers, national governments, citizens’ associations) and the needed institutional support.

Furthermore, each solution is characterised according to its adaptation and mitigation potential, cost of implementation, geographical (e.g., land use, elevation, slope, soil texture, climate conditions), regulatory (e.g., natural protected areas, areas of special protection for birds), sustainability (e.g., distance to protected habitats, distance to settlements and urban areas, industrial, and transport infrastructure) and techno-economic (e.g., proximity to ignition sources) suitability factors, synergies and trade-offs considering their environmental, social and economic impacts, and technical, environmental, institutional and economic resources required for their implementation, as well as their drivers and barriers to implementation. For example, agroforestry solution is associated with a high mitigation and high adaptation potential, and can contribute to facing risks such as flooding, compound and extreme weather, nitrogen leaching and soil erosion. The installation of photovoltaic plants has a high mitigation potential and address risks like overdependence on fossil fuels.

As such, the LAMS catalogue provides a reliable science-based tool useful for different users’ needs, to extract information and implement the LAMS following the indications provided. In the RethinkAction framework, these solutions will be simulated in EU and local models, to evaluate their performance over time and in different scenarios.


[1] EU Green Deal. https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en

[2] IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-i/

[3] IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land: https://www.ipcc.ch/srccl/

[4] CMCC: https://www.cmcc.it/