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Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa: Publications


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Nicaragua’s Failed Revolution details the incessant violence facing the Indigenous communities in the Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions, as evidenced by recent attacks against the Alal, Wasakin, and Miskitu communities, and provides in depth information about the actors involved — foreign gold mining firms, national and international actors in logging and cattle ranching industry, as well as prominent Nicaraguan officials.

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From Extraction to Inclusion, analyses Papua New Guinea's economic and development performance since its independence in 1975. While the economy has relied on the large-scale extraction of abundant minerals and other natural resources, on most indicators PNG is faring worse than its Pacific neighbors and any progress that has been achieved does not reflect the huge value of the resources extracted.
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Nicaragua: Una revolución fallida: La lucha indígena por el Saneamiento se publica en un creciente clima de miedo y represión en las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Caribe de Nicaragua, como lo demuestran los recientes ataques contra las comunidades Mayangna de Alal y Wasakin y la comunidad Miskitu de Santa Clara, y proporciona información detallada sobre los actores involucrados: empresas mineras de oro extranjeras, actores nacionales e internacionales en la industria maderera y ganadera, así como destacados funcionarios nicaragüenses.

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Driving Dispossession: The Global Push to “Unlock the Economic Potential of Land,” sounds the alarm on the unprecedented wave of privatization of natural resources that is underway around the world. Through six case studies — Ukraine, Zambia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and Brazil — the report details the myriad ways by which governments — willingly or under the pressure of financial institutions and Western donor agencies — are putting more land into so-called “productive use” in the name of development.

Green Resources’ pine plantation in Kachung. Credit: Kristen Lyons / The Oakland Institute.

Evicted for Carbon Credits: Norway, Sweden, and Finland Displace Ugandan Farmers for Carbon Trading, brings forward irrefutable evidence that the Norwegian forestry and carbon credit company, Green Resources, forcibly evicted villagers around their plantation in Kachung, Uganda. The establishment of the plantation on land previously used by subsistence farmers precipitated an on-going food security crisis that has not been addressed by the company, its financiers, nor the Ugandan government.

Kara parent and child sitting along the bank of the Omo River. Copyright: Kelly Fogel

How They Tricked Us: Living with the Gibe III Dam and Sugarcane Plantations in Southwest Ethiopia, reveals the dire situation faced by the Indigenous in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley and calls for urgent action by the government.

For years, the Oakland Institute has raised alarm about the threats that the Gibe III Dam and sugarcane plantations pose to the local population in the region. Now, several years on, new field research reveals the true impact on the Indigenous communities, who have called the area home for centuries.

Gilford Ltd. clearing land in West Pomio © Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

Jubilee Australia and the Oakland Institute denounce the National Land Summit, organized by the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government, as a dangerous attack on the country’s unique customary land tenure system.

Land Summit or Land Grab? details how the summit organized from May 1-3, 2019 is an attempt by the PNG government to ‘mobilize’ customary land to allow greater access to multinational companies and commercial banks for logging, mining, and industrial agriculture leases.



International financing has played a significant—although not always reported—role in the current conflict in Ukraine. In late 2013, conflict between pro-European Union (EU) and pro-Russian Ukrainians escalated to violent levels, leading to the departure of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 and prompting the greatest East-West confrontation since the Cold War.

En 2013, la Banque Mondiale classait le Mali parmi les pays africains ayant fourni le plus d’efforts pour améliorer le « climat des affaires » depuis 2005. Malgré la crise qui a secoué le nord du pays de 2012 à 2013, il est resté le premier parmi les huit nations de l’Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA) au classement Doing Business 2013. En 2014, le Mali a perdu ce leadership en arrivant juste derrière le Burkina Faso au classement général (155e place). Le pays reste cependant un des « bons élèves » de la Banque Mondiale en Afrique sub-saharienne.

In 2013, Mali was classified among the African countries that made the most effort to improve their business climate since 2005 by the World Bank. Undeterred by the 2012-2013 political crisis, the country retained its top ranking out of the eight West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) nations in the Doing Business 2013 report. In 2014, Mali lost this leadership, coming at the 155th place, just behind Burkina Faso. The country, however, remains a good student of the World Bank in sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite unreconciled tensions following the three-decade-long civil war, militarization of the state, human rights violations, and more than 200,000 civilians in displacement camps, the World Bank generously increased Sri Lanka’s ranking in the Doing Business assessment in recent years. During and after the war, the Sri Lankan military seized large tracts of land through forced evictions and by occupying land abandoned by civilians fleeing violence. Many of the lands were deemed “High Security Zones” during the war, but are now being converted into “Economic Processing Zones” for foreign investors rather than being used for resettling displaced populations. The Bank’s measurements do not factor in this theft of resources nor the overwhelming human rights violations, affording the country a high ranking.

Since 2004, the World Bank has provided continuous “investment climate advisory services” to Sierra Leone. Business reforms and Bank-piloted programs such as Sierra Leone Business Forum and the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency led to the World Bank classifying Sierra Leone among “the top 15 economies that improved their business regulatory environment the most” since 2005 and rank the country third in the regional “Protection of Investors” category. In the agricultural sector, reforms around land, mapping of parcels, and fast-tracking land leasing processes have attracted investors eager to develop large-scale monocrop plantations of sugar cane or oil palm, which deprive local communities of their resources and undermine human, social, and environmental rights in Sierra Leone.

Senegal has made numerous reforms in an effort to garner a higher ranking in the Doing Business evaluation. The latest round of reforms, likely to be praised by the World Bank, favor land grabbing in Senegal, a country where large-scale land deals have become increasingly frequent in the recent years. Since the late 1980s, the World Bank has influenced the Senegalese public policy at the expense of households’ livelihoods, and in recent years has pushed for even more withdrawal of public and social action, promoting instead economic liberalization and trade facilitation.

Le Sénégal ne cesse de dégringoler dans le classement Doing Business. Le pays a perdu 32 places depuis sa 146e position sur175 pays en 2007 jusqu’à sa 178ème sur 189 pays dans le dernier rapport. Le président Macky Sall s’est plaint que le classement 2014 n’ait pas pris en compte les mesures du troisième trimestre 2013, telle que la suppression de l’autorisation de transaction, l’amélioration de la protection des investisseurs par l’adoption de décrets révisant le Code de procédure civile, ou encore la facilitation du transfert de propriété. Ces réformes de nature à plaire à la Banque Mondiale sont favorables à l’accaparement des terres au Sénégal, où déjà plusieurs grands investissements ont été mis en oeuvre ces dernières années.

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The Philippines is now hailed as a top ten reformer as a direct result of making economic, regulatory, and administrative policy changes following the advice and direction of the World Bank. As a result of these changes, in 2013 the Philippines became the third most popular destination for foreign investment in land in the world, with 5.2 million hectares acquired since 2006.

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El Nicaragua es uno de los países más pobres del hemisferio occidental. La inversión extranjera directa en el país fue más que duplicada en los últimos años, y el Banco Mundial promueve activamente la inversión extranjera en el sector agrícola, a pesar de los numerosos problemas sociales, ambientales y de salud que están asociados con las plantaciones industriales en Nicaragua. Una de las actividades más perjudiciales es la producción de caña de azúcar para la producción de etanol. Hay una gran demanda para este cultivo, así como para la mano de obra que corta la caña, pero el aumento de la producción de caña de azúcar es costoso en términos de vidas humanas.

Since the first World Bank Doing Business survey in 2008, Liberia has implemented a series of reforms to improve the “ease of doing business in the country,” leading to its classification among the “top ten global reformers” of the 2010 Doing Business ranking. The subsequent worldwide advertisement of the country’s success attracted foreign direct investments (FDIs). In the agricultural sector, this resulted in giant palm oil and rubber producers acquiring more than 1.5 million acres of land, leaving communities without fundamental resources to sustain their livelihoods.


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