Uneven ground: land inequality at the heart of unequal societies

Publication date: 24 November 2020
Authors: Ward Anseeuw, Giulia Maria Baldinelli

In most countries, land inequality is growing. Worse, new measures and analysis show that land inequality is significantly higher than previously reported. This trend directly threatens the livelihoods of an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide involved in smallholder agriculture.

The “uneven ground” alluded to in the title of this synthesis report is where the majority of rural people are increasingly finding themselves. They are the focus of this report and of the work of the International Land Coalition. Smallholders and family farms, indigenous peoples, rural women, youth, and landless rural communities are being squeezed into smaller parcels of land or forced off the land altogether, while more and more land is concentrated in fewer hands, mainly serving the interests of corporate agribusiness and distant investors, utilizing industrial models of production that employ fewer and fewer people.

Beyond its direct effects on smallholder agriculture, it is clear that land inequality undermines stability and the development of sustainable societies, affecting all of us in almost every aspect of our lives.