Oakland Institute: Our Take

Rigorous research and policy analysis on critical world issues from the Oakland Institute.

World Bank's COVID-19 Assistance to Kenya Benefits Multinational Agribusiness and Agrochemical Firms

July 2, 2020

Image: Samuel Phillips The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have committed billions of dollars in loans to help countries respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While some of these loans will be used to strengthen the capacity of health systems, the funding appears conditioned on countries adopting policies favorable to the private sector. World Bank President David Malpass has explicitly laid out the types of policy shifts...

  • Community volunteers from Chllla Khadar. Image: Vikram Singh/ Basti Suraksha Manch

    Conditional Loans, Uncontrolled Misery: Doing Business in India in the Times of Corona

    June 22, 2020 Janhavi Mittal

    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought up the specter of the Indian partition as the country continues to witness the misery of large–scale human migration on foot and in deathly trains . However, the divide that emerges is not of two nation states but a widening gulf between India’s elite and millions of its second-class citizens—poor, toiling migrant workers. In the midst of this crisis, at a press conference on May 17, 2020,...

  • Faith and community leaders held silhouettes of striking workers, unable to attend due Covid-19.

    McDonald's High Tolerance for Inequity, Injustice & Racism

    June 11, 2020 Anuradha Mittal

    Amidst a global pandemic, McDonald's with its estimated net worth of $163 billion, has failed to provide the basic protective gear to keep its workers safe. 33 cooks and cashiers, mainly Latino including 24 women, at its Telegraph Avenue location in Oakland are on a strike for this reason.

  • Image: Essential Workers. Copyright: Dignidad Rebelde

    Ensure Basic Rights of the Working Poor on Cesar Chavez's Day

    March 31, 2020 Andy Currier

    Forced to continue working in conditions that place their lives at risk, the harsh realities these workers face in daily life are coming center stage.

  • President Trump welcomes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Tia Dufour

    Crude Conflict or Climate Justice

    March 26, 2020 Victor Menotti

    As we isolate ourselves physically due to the global Coronavirus pandemic, it is important to recognize real opportunities to convert the current crisis into a viable transition toward social, economic, and climate justice globally.

  • A seed fair in Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: Alexa Reynolds, ACF DR Congo

    Emperor Has No New Clothes

    January 30, 2020

    The EBA program was not created to help farmers. The Bank's claims to support farmers via the EBA is inherently contradictory to the own raison d'être of the program. The best way for the World Bank to assist farmers would be to disband the EBA program altogether.

  • Flooded fields near the Shire and Linkhubula rivers in Malawi. The area is still recovering from the flooding after Cyclone Idai hit the country. Credit: GovernmentZA (CC BY-ND 2.0)

    The Failure of Input Subsidies and a New Path Forward to Fight Hunger in Malawi

    January 23, 2020 Andy Currier

    On October 15th 2019, Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Water Development, Kondwani Nankhuma kicked off the 14th year of the country’s Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP). The program, which distributes vouchers to farmers that subsidize the cost of fertilizer and "improved" seed varieties, has been the dominant response to persistent food insecurity in the country.

  • Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Credit: USDA, Tom Witham

    Feeding the Rich While Starving the Poor: Trump Administration’s Cuts to Food Assistance

    December 26, 2019 Andy Currier

    Early December, the Trump administration finalized a rule that will tighten work requirements to qualify for food stamps; a decision that will strip desperately needed food assistance from an estimated 700,000 people.

  • Maasai villagers, their faces are hidden for their protection. Credit: Oakland Institute

    Tanzania's Withdrawal from the African Court on Human and People's Rights

    December 9, 2019 Anuradha Mittal

    A Wrong Move for the Country and for the Continent Maasai villagers, their faces are hidden for their protection. Credit: Oakland Institute When domestic mechanisms fail and there is no rule of law, independent regional and international mechanisms are essential to ensure accountability and human rights for all. This December 10th, recognized internationally as Human Rights Day, it is necessary to challenge Tanzanian President John Magufuli...

  • Women holding banner reading in hindi, "If there are forests, there will be Adivasis. If there are Adivasis, there will be forests." Credit: Oakland Institute

    Haq Nahi to Jail Sahi

    November 23, 2019 Janhavi Mittal

    “Wildlife ki seva hi karni hai, aur aadmi ki nahi, toh inse kahiye ki election samay par vote bhi janvaron se lene jaye. Humein na toh adhikar milte hain, na insan ka darja.“ “If they want to only protect wildlife and not people, let them turn to animals for votes during elections. We neither get our forest rights, or even the most basic human rights.“ Anar Singh Bandole

  • Forest view. Credit: Janhavi Mittal

    Dalit and Adivasi Women at the Forefront of the Forest Rights Movement in India

    September 9, 2019 Janhavi Mittal

    The Supreme Court of India is set to rule on a case, Wildlife Trust Vs the Union of India, which could result in the eviction of 1.9 million forest dwellers from the country's Indigenous and traditionally marginalized communities.

  • As India celebrates independence day, a curfew pass for a resident of Srinagar serves as a reminder of the selective and paradoxical nature of this freedom as the valley remains in a state of lockdown. Photo: H Zargar.

    Legalizing Dispossession: A Tale of Two Indian Land Grabs

    August 15, 2019 Anuradha Mittal

    India's 73rd Independence Day merits introspection on the deep crisis faced by the world's largest democracy. Two recent attempts at perpetuating unprecedented land grabs, mark the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government's proclivity for legalizing dispossession and marginalization of the most vulnerable.

  • Farmers prepare compost at a training at the Manor House Agricultural Center in Kenya. Copyright: MHAC

    We Need Bold, Ambitious Action to Address the Climate Crisis – and Agroecology is the Answer

    August 13, 2019 Elizabeth Fraser

    With the clock ticking and the window for change narrowing each day that goes by, it is clear that we need a bold and ambitious campaign to invest in agroecological solutions that build robust, diverse, and resilient food systems in communities across the planet. The good news is, just as is evident in the Himalayas, such bold action won't just help us address climate change--it also has the potential to address systemic issues like poverty and...

  • Nivada Rana (R) and Roma Malik (L), one of the leaders of the All India Union of Forest Working People, with the author. Credit: Janhavi Mittal / The Oakland Institute

    Who is Afraid of the Forest Rights Act?

    August 5, 2019 Janhavi Mittal

    International civil society must continue to demand that the government of India not only defend the FRA, a progressive legislation that protects traditional forest dwelling communities, but also ensure its careful and widespread implementation.

  • Image: Highland scene in Amhara, Ethiopia with US dollars overlaid. © The Oakland Institute

    A Response to Klaus Deininger’s Blog Post The World Bank’s Land and Poverty Conference: 20 years on

    March 22, 2019 Frederic Mousseau

    Dear Mr. Deininger, Your recent blog post surprisingly contradicts the prescriptions and policy guidance that your organization, the World Bank, gives to governments around the world, particularly in Africa. You stress the need “to base interventions on land, on solid empirical evidence rather than ideology.” Yet, when it comes to land and agriculture, the World Bank clearly follows an ideological blueprint, which focuses on...

  • Entrance to a new boma built by the displaced Maasai. Credit: The Oakland Institute

    This Human Rights Day, Stand Up for the Rights of the Maasai in Tanzania

    December 10, 2018 Elizabeth Fraser

    Basic rights – to life, security, food and housing, freedom from arbitrary arrest, and more – are also being systematically denied to the indigenous Maasai pastoralists in the Loliondo and Ngorongoro regions of northern Tanzania, and the situation is critical.

  • Construction in Pekanbaru, capital of Riau province in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Flore de Preneuf / World Bank (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    Collapsed Buildings & Lost Lives in Palu: The Tragic Cost of the World Bank’s #DoingBusiness Rankings

    October 2, 2018 Elizabeth Fraser

    In reading about the tragedy, one detail in particular has haunted me: reports of thousands of buildings collapsing and trapping those inside. This hard fact has stayed with me not just because the thought of being trapped in a collapsed building is absolutely terrifying, but because it unveils the dire impact of the World Bank's pro-business agenda.

  • Returned lands need to be cleared in order for livelihoods to resume. Credit: The Oakland Institute

    Remembrance and Resilience: The Ongoing Plight of Sri Lanka's Survivors

    May 18, 2018

    May 18th is the Mullivaikkal Day for Tamils in Sri Lanka – a day of mourning and remembrance for the more than 40,000 civilians brutally killed in the final stages of the country’s civil war nine years ago.

  • Mariam Sow delivering the Declaration of Small Scale Food Producers' and Civil Society Organizations

    A New Milestone Towards a Sustainable Food System – FAO Agroecology Symposium

    May 8, 2018 Flora Sonkin

    ROME, Italy—April 3-5, 2018, hallways of the FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) buzzed with over 700 representatives from government, civil society, private sector, and the UN agencies at the second agroecology symposium. Picking up momentum from the first symposium in 2014, and the subsequent regional meetings held in Latin America , Sub-Saharan Africa , Europe, Central Asia and Asia and the Pacific , the three-day Symposium...

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim at the 2016 World Bank / IMF Spring Meetings. Credit: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

    Two Blows in a Row: The New Alliance for Food Security Loses Ground

    April 12, 2018 Flora Sonkin

    Buzzwords like 'business-enabling environment,' which underlie NAFSN discourse and practice, merely support the expansion of large-scale and export-oriented agribusinesses, at the cost of local farmers and biodiversity.

  • Farmers march towards Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha as part of the Kisan Long March, Maharashtra. Credit: TheInnocentBystander, CC BY-SA 4.0

    'Rights, Not Favors': Citizenship Lessons from India's Forests

    April 10, 2018 Janhavi Mittal

    Cries of Maharbani Nakko, hakk havet (keep your favors, we want our rights) rend the early-morning sky as 40,000 farmers and forest dwellers from Maharashtra arrived in Mumbai a little before midnight on March 11, 2018. Commencing from Nashik, and covering 180 kilometers in less than six days, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) led rally offered not only spectacular images of blistered, bloodied feet but a new unrelenting solidarity between the...

  • Tractor in Ethiopia

    Development Gone Wrong

    March 31, 2018 Anuradha Mittal

    “I am not afraid of being arrested. I am afraid of being tortured.” These words from Pastor Omot Agwa , an Anuak land rights defender, are a poignant reminder of “development” gone wrong in Ethiopia. The agricultural sector, seen as the driver for development by the Ethiopian government, has been used to lure foreign investments for agribusiness ventures—large industrial plantations as those set up by Saudi Star and...

  • Un Teatro Caupolican lleno esperó a Michelle Bachelet para la proclamación del Partido Socialista y Partido por la Democracia, como su pre candidata presidencial.

    The World Bank's Fetish For Ranking: The Case Of Doing Business Rank For Chile

    February 21, 2018 Paola Langer

    On January 12, 2018, World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer revealed that the Bank’s Doing Business Ranking may have been deliberately skewed and politically manipulated, disfavoring Chile’s ranking under its outgoing socialist president, Michelle Bachelet. Following these revelations, he resigned on January 24.

  • 2015--Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at NY event on industrialization in Africa. On January 3, 2018 Prime Minister Desalegn announced that the government would release all Ethiopian political prisoners and close the notorious Maekelawi police station. Credit: UNIDO (CC BY-ND 2.0)

    The Release of Ethiopian Political Prisoners: Stifled Voices amidst False Promises

    January 23, 2018 Elizabeth Fraser, Frederic Mousseau

    For years, the Ethiopian government has denied that there are political prisoners in the country. This is despite its consistent use of the draconian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to stifle dissent and detain thousands of politicians, journalists, religious and indigenous leaders, and students.

  • Paul Palosualrea Pavol speaking at an October 2017 Oakland Institute event. Credit: The Oakland Instittue.

    Money Will Not Buy My Heart to Give My Land Away

    January 18, 2018

    The day we met Paul Palosualrea Pavol, he was evidently tired. It took him four days to travel from his home village in West Pomio, Papua New Guinea (PNG) to our offices in Oakland, California. Weary eyed, he was still eager to share with us his struggle against logging and palm oil companies that have stolen over 5.5 million hectares of land in his country.

  • Round logs ready for loading on a cargo ship bound for China. Local Pomio landowners are protesting against the biggest land grab in PNG history. Under a lease system called SABLs (special agricultural and business leases) forests are being destroyed and customary land is being stolen. Credit: Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

    Rainforest or the Illegal Logger – Who is Really Under Threat in Papua New Guinea?

    November 28, 2017 Frederic Mousseau

    “The forestry industry is on the brink of disaster” warned Bob Tate, the head of the Papua New Guinea Forest Industries Association (PNGFIA) on November 22, 2017. According to Tate, a spokesperson for the logging companies clear cutting the forests of Papua New Guinea (PNG), increase in log export taxes put in place by the government this year, combined with low international prices for tropical timber, are putting the industry at...

  • The U.S. Capitol Building - Washington DC. Credit: www.GlynLowe.com. Image overlaid with text, modified background. (CC BY 2.0)

    Ethiopia Silences the United States on Human Rights Abuses

    October 19, 2017 Elizabeth Fraser

    In July 2017, when a House Resolution on human rights and democracy in Ethiopia (H. Res. 128 ) was heard in the Committee on Foreign Affairs, support for the bill was resounding . Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) called the Ethiopian government a “corrupt regime” and “a dictatorship that knows no bounds.” Committee Chair Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) warned that the Ethiopian government must “take tangible steps to ensure...

  • A poster of Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa at a protest in Oakland, California. Making the crossed arm gesture is now a criminal offense under Ethiopia’s state of emergency. Credit: Elizabeth Fraser

    A Fire under Ashes: The Ongoing Struggle for Human Rights in Ethiopia

    June 27, 2017 Elizabeth Fraser

    As massive protests swept across Ethiopia last year, the dire human rights situation in the country made headlines around the world. The Financial Times described it as Ethiopia’s “Tiananmen Square moment ,” and then-US Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Tom Malinowski called the government’s crackdowns on dissent “ self-defeating tactics .” A poster of Olympic silver medallist Feyisa...

  • Sweet potato harvest. Credit: Aminah Jasho, KHCP.

    Towards the Transformation of Our Agricultural and Food Systems

    June 22, 2017 Lim Li Ching

    The world faces numerous problems related to agriculture and food. Among these are persistent undernourishment and malnutrition for some while others are obese and overweight; environmental degradation and pollution that threaten the very resource base that agriculture is dependent on; the loss of agricultural biodiversity; high levels of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change; inequalities in access to food; and policies and...

  • Logging camp in Fergusson Island, Milne Bay. Credit: Paul Hilton/Greenpeace.

    Laundering Illegal Timber: How Tropical Wood Stolen Through Land Grab Makes its Way to the Furniture Store

    June 8, 2017 Frederic Mousseau

    With 3.1 million cubic meters of tropical wood exported, primarily to China, Papua New Guinea (PNG) became in recent years the world’s largest exporter of tropical wood, surpassing Malaysia, which had held the top spot for the past decades. PNG reached the coveted first place after expanding the exploitation of its forest resources through a legal mechanism called Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs). According to a government...

  • Justice Denied Cover

    Justice Denied: Government and International Community Fail to Bring Justice to Sri Lanka

    March 23, 2017 Elizabeth Fraser

    For the past two months, protests have erupted across Sri Lanka’s North and East. Communities have launched rolling hunger strikes , insisting that their land be returned. Relatives of the missing have held sit-ins , demanding answers about their loved ones fates and whereabouts. And in numerous cities and towns people have marched, calling for the creation of a court with international judges to prosecute war crimes committed during the...

  • The World Bank’s Land Conference: Pro-Poor Bluff to Serve Neo-Colonialism

    March 20, 2017 Alice Martin-Prével

    This March 20, 2017, the World Bank’s 18th Annual Land and Poverty Conference begins, featuring a session where Bank specialists will deliver their assessment on the “quality” of land regulations globally. In particular, the Bank’s staff will comment on the implementation and findings of the Doing Business (DB) and the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA), two projects that rank countries’ regulatory...

  • The Oakland Institute's new report Down On the Seed, the World Bank Enables Corporate Takeover of Seeds, exposes that the World Bank's Enabling the Business of Agriculture index reinforces the stranglehold of agrochemical companies and Western nations.

    Banking on Seeds: World Bank Sides with Agribusinesses Against Farmers' Rights to Seeds

    January 31, 2017 Alice Martin-Prével

    Around the world, farmers’ rights to seeds are imperilled by industry-pushed reforms to curtail the freedom to save, reuse, exchange, and sell seeds. This is because, for the industrial seed market to grow, more farmers must rely on seeds bought from corporations, rather than seeds saved from previous harvests.

  • Credit: Donald Trump photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0. Maithripala Sirisena photo by Mr Sudath Silva / Maithripala Sirisena Official [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Image cropped, and color adjusted.

    This Human Rights Day, Stand Up for Human Rights in Sri Lanka

    December 8, 2016 Elizabeth Fraser, Anuradha Mittal

    December 10, 2016. This International Human Rights Day – themed “ Stand up for someone’s rights ” – there’s a lot to stand up for. In the weeks since Trump won the US Presidential election, hate crimes against Muslims, people of color, and immigrants have spiked; white nationalists have been appointed to top positions in the White House; and many of Trump’s election pledges – from deporting...

  • Ethiopian army soldiers monitoring Suri people during a festival in Kibish. Credit: Oakland Institute.

    Trump, Ethiopia: Neither is Normal

    November 29, 2016 Elizabeth Fraser

    In the weeks since Donald Trump was elected, many have focused on the need to not normalize the man, his words, or his actions. 1 This call is vital. We cannot normalize having someone in the White House who has become the very face of bigotry, islamophobia, white supremacy, misogyny, and contempt for the environment. Ethiopian army soldiers monitoring Suri people during a festival in Kibish. Credit: Oakland Institute. This call has also got me...

  • World Bank Doing Business 2017 Report Cover

    Neoliberalism for All: The World Bank’s Doing Business 2017

    November 3, 2016 Alice Martin-Prével, Frederic Mousseau

    “Equal Opportunity for All” subtitles the annual Doing Business report released last month by the World Bank. The choice is rather cynical for an instrument that has become a key driver of the neoliberal reforms promoted by the Bank around the world.

  • Residents walk past campus map at the STFRC in Dilley, Texas. Credit: Charles Reed, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

    From Home to Hieleras

    October 27, 2016 Anna Peare

    In the United States, thousands of women and children fleeing violence and poverty are detained as prisoners in for-profit family detention centers, like the South Texas Family Residential Center.

  • A poster of Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa at a protest in Oakland, California. Making the crossed arm gesture is now a criminal offense under Ethiopia’s state of emergency. Credit: Elizabeth Fraser

    Ethiopia’s State of Emergency: Authorizing Oppression

    October 20, 2016 Elizabeth Fraser, Anuradha Mittal

    The government of Ethiopia has responded to a groundswell of protests, which are calling for democracy and human rights for all, by imposing a six-month long state of emergency, effective October 8.

  • Protestors in Delhi ask the World Bank to end Doing Business rankings, 2014. © Our Land Our Business / The Rules

    Undemocratic and Unsustainable, the World Bank’s Vision for Agricultural Development Harms the Poorest

    October 3, 2016 Alice Martin-Prével

    As the World Bank’s Annual Meetings get underway in Washington, DC, a crucial theme is noticeably missing from its seminar series: agriculture. Does this imply that the Bank has become less involved in agricultural financing? The answer is no. The World Bank is by far the main donor of agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors in the developing countries, surpassing the United States and other G7 nations. If agriculture is not on the agenda,...

  • Ethiopia: Rising African Lion Or Broken Dictatorship?

    September 29, 2016 Alice Martin-Prével

    Earlier this year, the World Bank, in an enthusiastic account, praised “The Ethiopian Way” as an exceptional model, responsible for the country’s “successful development performance.” This accolade appears to be a case of amnesia, ignoring the severe political crisis that the country has plunged into since last year. Protests, stay-at-home strikes, and many other acts of resistance – including Olympic medallist Feyisa Lilesa’s widely broadcasted...

  • Ethiopia: The Time for Change is Now!

    September 15, 2016 Elizabeth Fraser

    This is a critical moment for Ethiopia. The US Government, United Nations leaders, and the international media are all paying attention to the abuses taking place, and finally giving these atrocities the attention they deserve. Now, more than ever, the international community needs to follow through on its responsibility. We must not accept the introduction of a bill or the pardoning of 1,000 as enough. Instead, we must continue to call for...

  • Growing Protests Bring Ethiopia to the Tipping Point

    September 6, 2016 Anuradha Mittal

    The past weeks have seen an escalation of ongoing protests across Ethiopia--including widespread acts of resistance like citizens shaving their heads in solidarity with jailed opposition leader Bekele Gerba and stay-at-home protests that have turned bustling cities into near ghost-towns. Despite the undeniable peacefulness of these actions, state violence and repression has continued. Earlier this month, Ethiopia's Prime Minister authorized the...

  • Community Resistance to Senhuile Land Grab Sparks Hope in Senegal

    September 1, 2016 Alice Martin-Prével

    Senegalese agro-pastoralists are striking wins against Senhuile SA, a foreign-owned agribusiness company established in Ndiaël, Saint-Louis Region of Senegal. In 2012, Senhuile obtained a 50 year lease on 20,000 hectares for a sweet potato plantation in a forest and wetland reserve, which was partially declassified to establish agribusiness activities.

  • Feyisa Lilesa: Crossing the Line in Ethiopia

    August 23, 2016 Anuradha Mittal

    As Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian marathon runner, crossed the finish line on Sunday, winning silver for his country at the Rio Olympics, his hands were crossed high above his head. To some viewers, it might have been a symbol of triumph at the end of a long race. But to those following the political turmoil in Ethiopia, it was a heroic – and dangerous – political act, sending a message globally about the plight of his people.

  • European Union Bankrolls Deceitful Land Project in Ethiopia

    July 30, 2016 Alice Martin-Prével

    The European Union and Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development are funding a €3.8 million ($4.2 million) agricultural initiative in Ethiopia. "Support to Responsible Agricultural Investment" (S2RAI), launched in March 2016, is a three-year long project focused on two western regions of Ethiopia: Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz. According to documents made public at the project-launching workshop in Bishoftu on July 15-...

  • With a Little Help from Bill Gates, the World Bank Creates a New Aid Conditionality

    April 20, 2016 Alice Martin-Prével

    An alluring cast of speakers including the First Lady Michelle Obama, Queen Rania of Jordan, John Kerry, and Ban Ki-moon, among others, spoke at last week’s World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC. Bill Gates was the guest star of the Bank’s final live-cast panel discussion, “A New Vision for Financing Development with Bill Gates.”

  • Green Resources Hedging Around Growing International Calls for Radical Reform of its Plantation Forestry Practices

    March 25, 2016 Kristen Lyons and Peter Westoby

    Kristen Lyons and Peter Westoby The Paris climate talks at the end of 2015 no doubt left some feeling as though global politics might have turned a little green. With a Climate Agreement aiming at keeping global temperature increase to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, national governments have some heavy lifting to do in cutting emissions. The green economy—including carbon markets and other payments for ecosystem services—is being...

  • Scalia Vacancy Puts in Play US Pledge to Paris Agreement

    March 21, 2016 Victor Menotti

    President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat of deceased Justice Antonin Scalia may begin a new battle between parties, but its resolution could clearly solidify or sink the 2015 Paris Agreement for climate protection just signed by almost 200 nations.

  • Failing to Address Land Rights Violations Caused by Its Own Programs, the World Bank Launches Its 17th Conference on Land and Poverty

    March 14, 2016 Alice Martin-Prével

    The 17th World Bank “Conference on Land and Poverty,” bringing together governments, academics, corporations, and NGOs, gets underway on March 14, 2016, in Washington DC. Last March, members of the Our Land Our Business campaign denounced the Conference as a sham. The Bank holds an annual conference on land and poverty whereas its policies such as the business indicators facilitate land grabs by forcing developing countries to adopt...

  • The Future of Ukrainian Small Farmers under Threat under the IMF Mandate

    February 4, 2016 Elizabeth Fraser

    In December 2015, bloodied cow heads welcomed Ukrainian politicians as they attended their last sessions of Parliament for the year. These and other graphic protests were part of a country-wide strike by Ukrainian farmers, who were protesting changes in Ukraine’s tax code that would end a special value-added tax (VAT) system for agriculture. These changes are part of the structural adjustment conditionalities laid out by the International...

  • Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Prescott Valley Event Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Credit Gage Skidmore

    Condemning Donald Trump is Not Enough: The Genealogy of Demagoguery and Islamophobia

    December 18, 2015 Elsadig Elsheikh

    Condemning Donald Trump and Islamophobia is simply not enough. It is equally important to build wide societal opposition to such rhetoric and policies in order to fight against the rising tide of demagoguery that has the potential to turn into outright fascism in American politics.

  • Why the World Bank Is Missing the Point on Agricultural Development

    December 9, 2015 Alice Martin-Prével

    Agricultural development is central to addressing some of the biggest challenges today: climate change, hunger, poverty, need for rural employment, and managing access to land and natural resources. According to the World Bank, climate change could push 100 million people into poverty in the next 15 years. Farmers will be the primary victims, affected by reduced rainfall, crop failure, heat waves, and floods. Yet, instead of investing in small-...

  • Trendy but Risky: Questioning Outgrower Schemes in Light of the Agrica Rice Plantation in Tanzania

    July 1, 2015 Alice Martin-Prével

    Contract farming and outgrower schemes are two terms used interchangeably to describe contractual agreements between farmers (outgrowers) and firms (offtakers). In contract farming, the outgrower agrees to provide a pre-determined quantity of a product at a given time and price, meeting the quality standards set by the offtaker. In return, the firm commits to purchasing the product and sometimes supports the production, for instance through the...

  • Who Owns Agricultural Land in Ukraine?

    May 8, 2015 Elizabeth Fraser

    The fate of Ukraine’s agricultural sector is on shaky ground. Last year, the Oakland Institute reported that over 1.6 million hectares (ha) of land in Ukraine are now under the control of foreign-based corporations. Further research has allowed for the identification of additional foreign investments. Some estimates now bring the total of Ukrainian farmland controlled by foreign companies to over 2.2 million ha;1 however, research has also...

  • Shafted: The Winners and Losers of Ukraine’s Austerity Agenda

    March 17, 2015 Elizabeth Fraser

    On March 2, 2015, the Ukrainian government passed amendments to its 2015 budget that will cripple the economic well being of most Ukrainians, but satisfy the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At the cost of their pensions, tax increases, sky-rocketing energy bills, and a re-organized banking sector, Ukrainians are now poised to get an IMF-led bailout of up to $40 billion. These austerity measures will have a huge adverse impact – with inflation...

  • A Sense of Déjà vu with Bruce Rastetter’s Iowa Ag Summit

    March 5, 2015 Anuradha Mittal

    Is the 2015 “Iowa Agriculture Summit” really a bi-partisan forum to promote agriculture, or yet another scheme devised by multi-millionaire Iowan Bruce Rastetter to hijack issues impacting farmers and agriculture for his self-serving political and economic agenda? Billed as an event to stimulate public discussion on “matters that directly affect Iowa farmers who feed and fuel not just the country, but the world,” several potential 2016...

  • Is ‘Land Policy’ the Solution to Land Grab in Africa?

    January 28, 2015 Stephane Nanga

    The debate over large scale land investments in Africa is shifting its focus away from the disastrous impact of land grabs on the social fabric of the communities to the need for African governments to deal with citizens’ outrage over land expropriation by developing a ‘land policy’.

  • Response from the Oakland Institute to CEO Mads Asprem’s letter in reaction to the report, The Darker Side of Green: Plantation Forestry and Carbon Violence in Uganda

    November 9, 2014 Anuradha Mittal

    The recent release of our report has engendered a written response from Green Resources’ CEO, Mr Mads Asprem, received on November 3, 2014. Here we clarify a number of issues he has raised. To begin, Mr Asprem claims that Associate Professor Kristen Lyons and Dr. Peter Westoby misrepresented themselves as students while working in Uganda, and in their approach to engaging with him and/or Green Resources staff. With over twenty years experience...

  • Dark Green? Green Resources CEO responds to Oakland Institute's new report

    November 3, 2014

    Fremtiden i vare hender, Spire and Utviklingsfondet is arranging a ‘mini-seminar’ about Green Resources’ Ugandan operation in Oslo on 4 November without inviting Green Resources. Green Resources is Africa’s leading reforestation company, having established more than 40,000 ha of plantation forests. We are a commercial forestry company that has sequestrated millions of CO2e, and created large environmental and social co-benefits. It is ironic...

  • A Conversation with Ruth Nyambura of African Biodiversity Network, Nairobi, Kenya

    October 10, 2014 Peiley Lau

    Ruth Nyambara has travelled to Washington, DC to participate in a panel, The Role of the World Bank Indicators in Agricultural Development, organized by the Oakland Institute at the World Bank Civil Society Policy Forum on October 10, 2014. She will also join the #WorldVsBank action outside the Bank at Rawlins Park, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington DC at 4 pm.

  • World Bank, Listen! The “Doing Business” Approach to Agriculture Needs to End

    October 10, 2014 Alice Martin-Prével

    As the World Bank representatives gather in Washington D.C. October 10-12, 2014, will it be business as usual, or will the Bank finally pay heed to a growing movement demanding food sovereignty? The World Bank withdrew its much-criticized Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) in 2002 in response to global protests against the imposition of neoliberal reforms on developing countries. However, the harmful guiding principles of the SAPs continue on...

  • Senegal Land Grab: Will Foreign Company Survive an Embezzling Employee and Local Protests?

    May 21, 2014 Jettie Word

    Senhuile, a foreign-owned agriculture company operating in Senegal , announced on April 28, 2014 that it had “revoked” its CEO Benjamin Dummai. A few weeks later Senegalese authorities arrested Dummai on charges of embezzling almost half a million dollars. Senhuile not only faces bankruptcy because of Dummai’s criminal behavior, but must also address the mounting pressure from local communities opposing its industrial agricultural plantations...

  • Time for Action to Stop Land Grabs in Papua New Guinea

    May 7, 2014 Peiley Lau

    Two recent events suggest a promising reversal of land grabbing in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In the past 12 years, the amount of customary land in PNG decreased from 97 percent to 86 percent. This is because although customary land cannot be sold under PNG law, legal mechanisms, such as the Special Agricultural Business Lease (SABL) scheme, were developed for foreign investors to access the land. The SABL is a lease-lease back scheme established...

  • What is World Bank’s Business with Agriculture?

    April 11, 2014 Alice Martin-Prével

    In 2012, the G8 called for the World Bank “to develop options for generating a Doing Business in Agriculture index.” With funding from the Gates Foundation, the UK, US, and Dutch and Danish governments, the project emerged in 2013 under the name Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture (BBA). The BBA methodology builds on its model indicator, the Doing Business ranking, which was developed by the Bank almost 12 years ago with very damaging...

  • The World Bank’s Doing Business Rankings: Relinquishing Sovereignty for a Good Grade

    April 7, 2014 Peiley Lau

    Launched in 2003, the World Bank’s annual Doing Business (DB) ranking system rates 189 countries on the “ease of doing business” within the country and pressures them to achieve higher rankings in subsequent reports by enacting neoliberal regulatory reforms. Despite its positive veneer, the report encourages governments to eliminate economic, social, and environmental safeguards and promotes competition among countries for higher rankings and,...

  • Development Fairytales: A Foreign Firm’s Story in Senegal

    March 6, 2014 Jettie Word

    Large companies across the world are invading rural areas in developing countries, allegedly responding to a need for economic development, food security, and poverty alleviation. Such is the narrative of Senhuile, a shadowy company backed by a maze of foreign investors, which is operating in the natural protected area of Ndiaël in northwest Senegal. By establishing an agricultural plantation on land already used by rural communities, this...

  • Wall Street Wants Our Food System

    March 4, 2014 Lukas Ross

    Just look at the billions pouring into farmland from some of the deepest pockets in the financial sector. Rising interest from institutional investors such as hedge funds, pensions, and private equity firms is changing farmland from a mostly overlooked asset class into a potential global bubble. And, although media attention often falls on land deals in the developing world that are corrupt or even violent, the truth is that the global land rush...

  • America's Disappeared

    December 23, 2013 Peiley Lau

    The holiday season can overwhelm us with its Christmas jingles on repeat and cheap decorations that crowd the aisles of every big box retailer. In between RSVPing to holiday parties and cleaning the house for visiting relatives, donating to food drives and charities can become just another chore on our list of obligations. Why open our pocketbooks and write yet another check? Are there Americans who really need our help?

  • Norwegian Oil Money in Dirty Business

    December 12, 2013 Borghild Bråtveit

    On October 14, 2013, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance announced its decision to exclude two Malaysian logging companies, WTK Holdings Berhad and Ta Ann Holdings Berhad, from its Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) portfolio. Its decision, based on the recommendation made by the Council on Ethics in June and December, 2012 (see here also), has been hailed internationally, given the severe environmental damage caused by the two companies on the...

  • SNAP: An Investment in Our Children

    November 27, 2013 Peiley Lau

    As families across the United States sit down for the Thanksgiving feast, many others will struggle to afford even basic food on this holiday. For a lot of Americans, hunger is a constant concern. Food insecurity, and malnutrition and hunger with it, has grown dramatically in recent years. In 2012, one out of every six, or 49 million, Americans was food insecure. [1] The magnitude of food insecurity renders the federal Supplemental Nutrition...

  • Under the Table: Illegal Wood in Your Home

    November 26, 2013 Jettie Word

    On Our Land, a new report and documentary film on land grabbing in Papua New Guinea (PNG), exposes an alarming global black market in contraband wood that is used in kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms across Europe and the United States. Driven by demand for high-end furniture and flooring and aided by complex global laundering schemes, illegally felled timber is devastating forest-dependent communities, ravaging ecosystems, and depleting PNG...

  • Papua New Guinea: The Land at the Core

    November 15, 2013 Alice Martin-Prével

    “In a sense, Wola belong to land as much as it belongs to them.” Paul Sillitoe’s [1] consideration about the Wola farmers of the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) brings us to the heart of a critical question: what is the value of land in a country like PNG? In the current context of land grabbing, why is it important to preserve traditional systems of tenure? In the West, people understand land as a private piece of...

  • Notes on Global Structural Inequality: Land and Neoliberal Politics in Africa

    October 22, 2013 Elsadig Elsheikh

    Africa’s arable lands continue to receive growing attention for research and policy debate mainly due to the pressing social, political, and environmental challenges that African countries face with regard to food insecurity and foreign direct investments. “Securing Africa’s Land for Shared Prosperity: A Program to Scale Up Reforms and Investments,” a book published by the World Bank and authored by Frank Byamugisha, is the latest in this debate...

  • What is the Future We Envision for America?

    October 1, 2013 Peiley Lau

    According to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Washington should care for the generations ahead. Yet, his recent austerity measure undermines investment in America’s future. If the $40 billion cut to the existing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the House of Representatives should pass in the Senate, the government will have failed the nation’s poor.

  • World Bank’s Land Strategy: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

    September 23, 2013 Alice Martin-Prével

    Released on July 22, 2013, the World Bank’s report, Securing Africa’s Land for Shared Prosperity, provides a ten-step program to “boost governance,” “step up comprehensive policy reforms,” and “accelerate shared and sustained growth for poverty reduction” in sub-Saharan Africa. [1] At first glance, these ambitious objectives, aimed at addressing the ongoing crisis of land grabbing on the African continent seem promising; however, the report’s...

  • US Immigration Reform Bill Makes Splash, but Mass Firings Continue

    July 3, 2013 Melanie Berkowitz

    While the United States Senate made final tweaks to pass its highly publicized immigration reform bill S.744 last Thursday, community members in the San Francisco Bay Area protested the firing of hundreds of undocumented immigrant workers. On June 11, 2013, fired workers and their supporters participated in a 72-hour hunger strike in San Jose and Oakland, California. This “Fast Against the Firings” drew attention to the insidious effects of the...

  • The Herakles Files: CEO’s False Image

    June 5, 2013 Jettie Word

    Bruce Wrobel, the CEO of Herakles Farms and founder of the nonprofit organization All for Africa, is a self-proclaimed “environmentalist and activist for the poor.” Upon first glance, his initiatives in Africa seem to support these claims--but scratch the surface and the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. A new report by the Oakland Institute and Greenpeace, Herakles Exposed, reveals the company’s internal documents that highlight the...

  • Herakles Farms Double-Speak

    May 30, 2013 Melissa Moore

    Herakles Farms doesn’t seem to value providing straightforward information or answers to the Cameroonian government, the local population impacted by their palm oil plantation in Southwest Cameroon, nor their own investors. Which version of the company’s own documents are we to believe when they present completely opposite information depending on the audience?

  • State Department Underscores Human Rights Abuses of Key US Ally in Africa

    May 8, 2013 Luis Flores

    The just-released 2012 Human Rights Practices country report for Ethiopia, compiled by the US State Department, confirms an uncomfortable fact—most US government officials are aware of the repressive nature of Ethiopia’s US-backed regime. The State Department document recognizes reports of unlawful (politically-motivated) detention, instances of torture, political use of the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, and the often-unchecked use of force...

  • Unheard Wisdom: Ethiopian Activists Bring Knowledge of Land Grabs to India, Investors and Policymakers Absent

    March 14, 2013 Ashwin Parulkar

    In early February, the Oakland Institute organized a three-day forum in New Delhi with the Indian Social Action Forum, Kalpavriksh, and Centre for Social Development on the impact of large-scale land acquisitions in Ethiopia and India by private enterprises on indigenous communities in both countries. Since 2008, Ethiopia has leased out nearly 600,000 hectares of farmland to Indian agribusinesses--the largest share of investors in the country--...

  • Report from the Indian-Ethiopian Civil Society Summit on Land Investments New Delhi, February 5-7, 2013

    February 25, 2013

    The Oakland Institute, in partnership with Indian civil society groups Indian Social Action Forum, Kalpavriksh, and Centre for Social Development, organized a discussion forum on issues pertaining to land rights in Ethiopia and India in New Delhi from February 5 to 7, 2013.

  • Update from Gambella, Ethiopia: Human Rights Violations Impact the Anuak

    February 19, 2013 Nickolas Johnson

    As part of the Oakland Institute’s (OI) continued research and reporting on the ever unfolding and unfortunately more distressing news coming out of Ethiopia, OI recently published a new briefing paper titled Unheard Voices: The Human Rights Impact of Land Investments on Indigenous Communities in Gambella. Prepared by the International Human Rights Clinic at New York University School of Law, this briefing paper provides an overview of the human...

  • Opportunity in Deepening Indian-Ethiopian Relations

    February 5, 2013 Luis Flores

    Mounting evidence indisputably shows that the brand of agricultural investment spreading in Ethiopia is accompanied by, or rather dependent upon, military violence and the suppression of civil rights.

  • Tackling World Hunger: Still Headed the Wrong Way

    October 14, 2012 Frederic Mousseau

    The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s report, State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012, was released on October 9, 2012. Although one might be tempted to celebrate the decrease in the number of undernourished people from nearly 1 billion in 2009 to 870 million today, this new report is not a harbinger of good news.

  • Enough Is Enough: Gambella, Ethiopia Update

    October 1, 2012 Nickolas Johnson

    Beatings, rape, and torture have become the new normal for many living in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. New reporting by Human Rights Watch (HRW), sheds light on the current living conditions of Ethiopians in the Gambella region as a result of the government’s villagization program. Marred in human rights abuses in the aftermath of an unfortunate shooting that left five Saudi Star employees dead this June, the Ethiopian government has...

  • Launching the OI Blog

    As part of the Oakland Institute's mission to bring fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time, we are launching a blog that will feature coverage of fast-changing focus areas such as land rights, the high food price crisis, food sovereignty, and more, as well as analysis and opinion articles by the Institute's international staff, fellows, and researchers. Our hard-hitting reports and...

  • A New Revolution? Chinese Working Classes Confront the Globalized Economy

    July 1, 2006

    Rapidly changing conditions of the working classes in China, and their struggles in response to the new circumstances, have enormous implications for people everywhere. Chinese workers, peasants and migrants, together with elements of the “new middle class,” make up one-fifth of the population of the world. The transformation in their circumstances, and the choices that they make over the next few years, will not only have an impact in China,...

  • Inequity in International Agricultural Trade: The Marginalization of Developing Countries and Their Small Farmers

    March 1, 2005

    State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO) is a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that analyzes global trends in agricultural production and trade and documents the inequity and unfairness of the global trade system in terms of its impact on the poorest nations and their small farmers. The study’s findings, based on the examination of 40 years of international trade in agricultural products, expose...