‘Our Land, Our Lives’

Time out on the global land rush

Published: 4 October 2012
Author: 
Kate Geary, Private Sector Policy Advisor, Oxfam GB

In the past decade an area of land eight times the size of the UK has been sold off globally as land sales rapidly accelerate. This land could feed a billion people, equivalent to the number of people who go to bed hungry each night. In poor countries, foreign investors have been buying an area of land the size of London every six days.

With food prices spiking for the third time in four years, interest in land could accelerate again as rich countries try to secure their food supplies and investors see land as a good long-term bet. All too often, forced evictions of poor farmers are a consequence of these rapidly increasing land deals in developing countries. As the world’s leading standard-setter and a big investor itself, the World Bank should freeze its own land investments and review its policy and practice to prevent land-grabbing. In the past the Bank has chosen to freeze lending when poor standards have caused dispossession and suffering. It needs to do so again, in order to play a key role in stopping the global land rush.

Recommendations

World Bank’s freeze will send a strong signal to global investors to stop land-grabbing and to improve standards for:

  • Transparency – ensuring that information about land deals is publicly accessible for both affected communities and governments.
  • Consultation and consent – ensuring communities are informed in advance, and can agree or refuse projects.
  • Land rights and governance – strengthening poor people’s rights to land and natural resources, especially women, through better land tenure governance as set out by the Committee for Food Security.
  • Food security – ensuring that land investments do not undermine local and national food security.

Act now to stop land grabs


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