Land Rights

The purchase and lease of vast tracts of land from poor, developing countries by wealthier nations and international private investors has led to debate about whether land investment is a tool for development or force of displacement.

The Facts: 

Over the last four years, there has been a significant increase in land-based investment, both in terms of the number of investment projects and the total land area allocated. Industrialized nations and private foreign investors have driven demand for arable land in developing regions, particularly in Africa, but also in South America, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. Governments are interested in the lands for purposes of food security and biofuel production. Both governments and private investors are attracted by policy reforms that have improved the investment climate in developing countries, as well as arbitrage opportunities afforded by the extremely low cost of leasing land in these regions.

While only fractions of arable land in developing regions are being used for agriculture, demand for strategic swats next to irrigation and shipping sites is growing with greater investment. These areas and other lands are frequently in use even though occupants’ have no legal rights to the land or access to legal institutions. As demand for land assets increases and governments and multilateral institutions promote investment in national lands, displacement and affected livelihoods are becoming serious sources of international concern.

What we are doing about it: 

Media coverage of land acquisitions has been sparse and lacking in investigative detail. The Oakland Institute is committed to increasing transparency about land deals including the terms of negotiation, theoretical consequences of investment, real impact on the ground, and ultimate impact on development in several African countries.

Le présent rapport dénonce les contradictions flagrantes entre, d’une part, la façon dont l’entreprise présente son projet au grand public et, d’autre part, le discours qu’elle tient aux investisseurs et créanciers potentiels. Il révèle également des communications internes qui contredisent les perspectives optimistes pour le projet d’huile de palme présentées par l’entreprise aux investisseurs.
The aviation industry has high hopes for biofuels. As its profits are increasingly threatened by erratic fossil fuel prices, and as consumers are more and more concerned with the role of aviation in climate change, biofuels are being billed as the path to both profitability and sustainability. Unfortunately, emerging evidence suggests that as airlines rush to procure biofuel, they do so at the expense of people and the environment.
The Lower Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia is internationally renowned for its unique cultural and ecological landscape. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lower Omo Valley contains two national parks and is home to approximately 200,000 agro-pastoralists made up of some of Africa’s most unique and traditional ethnic groups, including the Kwegu, Bodi, Suri, Mursi, Nyangatom, Hamer, Karo, and Dassenach, among others.

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June 30, 2014
For Immediate Release June 30, 2014 Contacts: Frédéric Mousseau, The Oakland Institute, +1 (510) 512 54 58, fmousseau@oaklandinstitute.orgMaureen Penjueli, Pacific Network on Globalisation + (679) 3316722, coordinator@pang.org.fj Rosa Koian, Bismarck Ramu Group, + (675) 4233011, rkoian@online.net.pg   
June 25, 2014
Arrested, assaulted, and then charged with libel: this is just some of what land and environmental activist Nasako Besingi has faced while helping communities from the southwest region of Cameroon stop US company Herakles Farms from grabbing their lands for the development of a 20,000 hectare palm oil plantation.
Quick Facts: 

56 million – total hectares of land (nearly the size of France) acquired in the developing world by international governments and investors since 2008.

70% of the population – in sub-Saharan Africa lives on their traditional lands that, because of colonial heritage, are classified as state lands in independent Africa. This is why governments believe that they can give away their land without consultation or legal redress.

$1 per hectare per year – the cost to private investors and foreign governments of leasing land in Ethiopia in 2008.