In an era of global warming, long-standing challenges for rural populations, including land inequality, poverty and food insecurity, risk being exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Innovative and effective approaches, such as Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), are required to alleviate these environmental pressures without hampering efficiency. In countries with unequal distribution of land, where issues of access to and use of land rank high on the policy agenda, policymakers are confronted with the challenge of implementing interventions such as land reforms, whilst endeavouring to ensure that sustainable agriculture approaches be adopted by farm-households. The aim of this study is to investigate how land reforms can provide an opportunity for policymakers, particularly in lower-income countries, to enhance not only equity and efficiency but also environmental sustainability. In particular, this study builds on an extensive review of the theoretical and empirical literature and employs a conceptual framework analysis method to develop and describe a framework that explores how land reforms can be associated with the CSA approach. The resultant “Climate Smart Land Reform” (CSLR) framework contains four driving pillars, namely land redistribution, tenure reform, rural advisory services and markets and infrastructure. The framework disentangles relevant channels through which land reform, via its four pillars, can foster CSA adoption and thus contribute to the attainment of sustainable increases in agricultural productivity, climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation. The framework also includes relevant channels through which more ‘traditional’ objectives of land reformers, including economic, social and political objectives, can be achieved. In turn, the (partial) attainment of such objectives would lead to improvements in agroecological and socioeconomic conditions of rural areas and populations. These improvements are considered within the framework as the ‘ultimate’ objective of land reformers. The CSLR framework represents an innovative way of conceptualising how land reforms can generate beneficial effects not only in terms of equity and efficiency but also of environmental sustainability.
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