In recent years, various actors, from big foreign and domestic corporate business and finance to governments, have initiated a large-scale worldwide enclosure of agricultural lands, mostly in the Global South but also elsewhere. This is done for large-scale industrial and industrial agriculture ventures and often packaged as large-scale investment for rural development. But rather than being investment to benefit the majority of rural people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, this process constitutes a new wave of land and water ‘grabbing’. It is a global phenomenon whereby the access, use and right to land and other closely associated natural resources is being taken over - on a large-scale and/or by large-scale capital – resulting in a cascade of negative impacts on rural livelihoods and ecologies, human rights, and local food security.
The time has come for a transformation of Europe’s food systems. Small-scale food producers, peasants, community groups, environmental justice activists and others have been calling for years for a shift towards agriculture that nourishes communities, regenerates ecosystems, and provides decent and sustainable livelihoods. The concept of agroecology encompasses these ambitions, referring to the science, movement, and practice of working with nature to build food sovereignty. The climate crisis and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have only made it clearer how urgent such a transformation is.
As land is grabbed and earmarked in Africa for supposed development, there are nearly always implications for the water nearby, for local people's land and water rights and environmental sustainability.
The island of Bali is home to a rich and unique system of agriculture, based around traditional water management systems developed over the last 1200 years. However, growing pressure from the expansion of the tourist trade as well as the effects of climate change are putting these systems at risk. Farmers are fighting to preserve their livelihoods and maintain a base for local food sovereignty in Bali, but significant changes to policy and practice are needed to protect their rights to land, water, and seed.
The rapid pace of the land rush by foreign investors in Laos has prompted significant concern by international observers, Lao civil society, and certain sections of the government, regarding the impacts upon farmers that are dispossessed of their land and communal resources.
In the face of violent dispossession and incorporation into an exploitative labor regime, indigenous peasant families in northern Guatemala are struggling to access land and defend their resources as the basis of their collective identity.
Are EU countries guilty of human rights abuses related to land grabbing? How do EU countries contribute to land-grabbing outside of Europe? Our analysis identifies the key mechanisms through which human rights challenges emerge from land grabbing and points to the obligation of the EU and its Member States to implement a set of policy regulations.
A briefing paper jointly published earlier this month by the Netherlands-based think tank groups has asserted that new ceasefires that have been signed since 2011 have further facilitated land grabbing in conflict-affected areas where large development projects in resource-rich ethnic regions have already taken place.
Across the world, peasants, pastoralists, fishers, and indigenous peoples are losing their once effective control over the land, water, wetlands, pastures, fishing grounds and forests on which they depend including the right to decide how these natural resources will be used, when and by whom, at what scale and for what purposes, often for generations to come.
Nyeleni Europe and Central Asia, Transnational Institute (TNI)
28 May 2020
The handbook is published by the Nyéléni Europe and Central Asia platform for Food Sovereignty to help nourish the food sovereignty movement with ideas that support local struggles for land. It also tries to connect different experiences and is an invitation to build collective intra-European support mechanisms for land struggles.
A new phase of ‘foreignization’ and land grabbing is occurring via value-chain relations in Bolivia. Exogenous forces from some BRICS and MICs are penetrating Bolivia’s countryside and drastically changing social relations of production, reproduction, property and power.
Global pressure on land and natural resources is mounting, with mainstream narratives about climate change often intensifying pressure to replace so-called "inefficient" users of land, including small farmers and pastoralists with market-based dynamics and actors. This dynamic makes the pursuit of socially just land policy ever more important and urgent, while at the same time creating new challenges. The fundamental connections and tensions between agrarian and climate justice must be reckoned with, and movements on both sides must deepen their understanding.
The way that ownership and control of land and resources is managed and understood is changing globally, even as changes in financial markets and the climate catastrophe are putting increasing pressure on land and land-based resources. The changes taking place can appear progressive and positive - for example, more and more governments and other actors now recognize collective ownership of land. But the way change is taking place is less transformative than it looks and is in fact creating new opportunities for corporations to profit from land and natural resources, to the detriment of local communities. Our latest report explores how and why this change is taking place, what actors are helping to shape our understanding and management of land and natural resources, and who stands to benefit and to lose from these changes.
As Brazil and China become the world’s leading exporter and importer of soybeans respectively, Chinese companies have sought investments in Brazil to wrest greater control over the flows and profits of the international soybean trade from North Atlantic-based transnational companies. While some promote these as positive “South-South cooperation”, many others condemn them as neocolonial “land grabs” that displace peasants, cause environmental degradation, and deindustrialize the Brazilian economy.
Jun Borras, Jennifer Franco, Clara Mi Young Park, Mads Barbesgaard, Yukari Sekine, Ye Lin Myint, Thant Zin
02 March 2018
Dominant approaches to climate change mitigation are putting new pressures on small farmers and village dwellers, justifying dispossession by powerful actors who cast villagers' traditional ways of life as ecologically destructive or economically inefficient. In order to address the twin challenges of agrarian justice and climate justice, it is critical to understand the way new conflicts and initiatives intersect with old conflicts and the way they are compounded by undemocratic settings, and inequality and division along fault-lines of gender, ethnicity, class, and generation.
Land politics – who controls what land, how is it used, for how long, for what purposes and to whose benefit – is a central pillar of this debate. As politicians across Europe struggle to balance the urgent need for climate action with the need to strengthen equity and popular support for new policies, the risk of societal discord looms large, fuelled by farmer protests, perceptions of ‘agri-bashing,’ and long-running tensions between conservation movements and agricultural communities. This has been made more complicated by the interweaving of questions of land and national identity and an apparently increasing disconnect between those living in rural and urban areas.