The drylands are home to 2.3 billion people and cover around 40 per cent of the Earth's land surface. They play an important role in trade, tourism, migration and environmental services, such as carbon sequestration. Dryland communities have learnt to exploit their environment, including the cycles of flood and drought, leading sustainable livelihoods. But policymakers hold many misconceptions about drylands, and there are few government policies, investments or planning processes to support dryland communities' own strategies. We aim to challenge those misconceptions, help local and national governments make their development planning for drylands more resilient to climate change, and advocate at the global level for policies and laws that support climate adaptive management.