The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shared its annual letter recently, thoughtfully responding to some "tough" questions the organization is often asked. One of those was on the topic of climate change, and why Gates does not give money toward fighting against it.

Melinda responded that in fact they do address and fund climate change efforts. Through the foundation's agricultural portfolio, "we invest to help farmers be more productive, so that they’ll have more buffer to withstand lean years when they come. We also invest in climate-smart crops." In doing so, the Gates Foundation aims to support those hardest hit by climate change: smallholder farmers in developing countries. These are the people who depend most on land for their livelihoods for food and income to sustain their families’ basic needs, and they are therefore most vulnerable to the impacts of climate-induced droughts and other extreme weather patterns.

"Hundreds of millions of people in developing countries depend on farming for their livelihoods. They had almost nothing to do with causing climate change, but they will suffer the most from it," the letter reads.

We could not agree more. We have been working with those smallholder farmers around the world for more than 50 years. Through our recent work on the ground, we are witnessing those vulnerabilities among rural farmers as they try to cope with the changing climate.

Additionally, these same smallholder farmers, particularly women, often lack secure rights to their land. Underlying Melinda’s comment — and something the Gates Foundation has a history of supporting — is the important role of land rights in climate adaptation and resiliency. Without tenure security, the women, men, and communities who increasingly depend on adaptation strategies for their survival may face additional obstacles.

Read the full article about land rights and climate adaptation strategies for smallholder farmers by Jennifer Duncan and Karina Kloos at Devex International Development.