Organizing anarchy: The food security-biodiversity-climate crisis and the genesis of rural land use planning in the developing world


Shortfalls in global food production, coupled with the growing visibility of climate change's disruptive effects, have underlined for many observers the importance of devoting rural lands to their 'optimal' use, where they can make maximal contributions to the global imperatives of feeding the human population and maintaining vital environmental services. In this context observers have endorsed rural land use planning as a way to insure that, at least in theory, lands get devoted to their best uses. In practice, land use planning in the developing world has resembled 'organized anarchy'. Small landholders with insecure land tenure, overseas investors seeking large land deals, NGOs representing indigenous peoples, government officials, and staff from international environmental NGOs and multilateral organizations have come together in strategic action fields to struggle over and sometimes negotiate land use plans for contested landscapes. These plans represent a strategic, spatially explicit response to the climate change-biodiversity-food security crisis. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Land Use Policy
Patrick Meyfroidt
Patrick Meyfroidt
Professor of Land Systems and Sustainability Science

My research focuses on how land systems can contribute to sustainability.