Towards adaptive property: legal design for a climate-affected future

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The 21st century poses new challenges for property law due to climate change and mass movements of people. There is emerging interest in adaptive law, which describes regulatory approaches that avoid rigid ex ante solutions to complex socio-ecological problems. The advantages of adaptive laws are said to include flexibility, risk diversification, and learning from innovation. But how can such a regime apply to property in land? Conventional formulations of property law seek stability of expectations through state-sanctioned entitlements that set out permitted and proscribed uses of resources. When, therefore, should property law allow for flexibility rather than certainty in the face of current risks such as climate change? Is there a case for re-visiting orthodox formulations of stability/flexibility trade-offs in property law to meet the challenges of environmental disruption? This chapter considers these questions as a contribution to broader debates over adaptive law for a climate-affected future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Adaptive Governance
EditorsSirkku Juhola
Place of PublicationCheltenham UK
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781800888241
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

Publication series

NameElgar Handbooks in Energy, the Environment and Climate Change


  • Adaptive law
  • Property law
  • Regulation
  • Migration
  • Climate change
  • Land tenure

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