Climate Adaptation, Land Acquisition and Security: the Gendered Politics of Dispossession in Pakistan

Principal Investigators

Dr Amiera Sawas (Grantham Institute – Imperial College London) and Nausheen Anwar (IBA – Karachi).


Aradhana Sharma (Wesleyan University).

Civil Society Partner

Shehri – Citizens for a Better Environment (Pakistan)

Project Summary

This research investigates the impacts of land acquisition for climate (adaptation) related development projects on the security of vulnerable and marginalised citizens and communities. Using a gender lens it uncovers how citizens face differentiated experiences of development, dispossession and access to legal mechanisms of accountability and redress. Two categories of land acquisition that are being developed in response to climate change are investigated at sites across two provinces: (1) Corporate Agriculture Farms (CAF); and (2) climate-related development projects. The primary concern is to investigate how local security and livelihoods are supported and/or impacted by these processes. Secondly it focuses on how various actors and institutions use diverse transparency, accountability and litigation mechanisms.

The research is conducted in two provinces of Pakistan –Sindh and Punjab- which have diverse histories of development, governance and land use, offering important analytical and comparative avenues. The research is produced in collaboration with indigenous citizens, using ethnography, action research and participatory photography. The case studies reinforce the importance of the rural-urban nexus by bringing to the fore the complex interplay between international investment, governance regimes, land acquisitions, and differentiated forms and impacts of development. Two mechanisms to be investigated are, first, the expectation that climate adaptation developers obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent from local citizens. Secondly, the role of The Right to Information Ordinance 2013 (RTI) which was designed to enable ordinary citizens access to official government documents and approach a court if access is denied concerning any project, scheme or development.


There is very little evidence on the inclusion processes and impacts of climate related development, or ‘adaptation’ in Pakistan. This research uncovers how citizens are engaged in climate adaptation development processes and if/how they access their rights to legal mechanisms and accountability. One of the biggest barriers to equitable development in Pakistan is the lack of inclusion of vulnerable and marginalised populations in policy making. In fact, such populations have great difficulty in accessing the state and public services altogether. However, since the devolution process, formalised by the 18th amendment in 2010, the federal government, donors and civil society have actively sought to promote greater engagement between local governments and citizens. This project provides valuable data on how citizens – women, men and transgenders – interface with the state in this new context. It will highlight any gaps in the legal process, and opportunities for more inclusive development processes. The researchers and partners will provide capacity building for citizens, development actors and the government to foster greater participation of citizens in climate related development, and seek legal resolutions where needed.

Contact Information

For further information, please email Amiera at or Nausheen at