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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.

Overview

Over the last eight 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, and Asia-Pacific.

The lands offered to investors are frequently in use although occupants lack legal claims to the land and access to legal institutions. As demand for land assets increases and governments and multilateral institutions promote land investment, displacement and impact on livelihoods have become serious sources of concern.

What we are doing about it

The Oakland Institute is committed to increasing transparency about land deals including the terms of the deals, the actors involved, and the impact on people and the environment.

Publications

Is Nicaragua For Sale?

In May 2020, the Oakland Institute published an independent report that documented the incessant violence facing the Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCN) and provided in depth information about the actors involved — foreign gold mining firms, national and international actors in logging and cattle ranching industries, as well as prominent Nicaraguan officials.

One Degree Removed

Over the last two decades, three men have exerted control over a set of massive mining concessions in a region of northeastern Nicaragua known as the Mining Triangle (Triángulo Minero) . Despite protections for Indigenous land rights in Nicaraguan and international law, American mining engineer J. Randall Martin and two business partners — Thomas W. Lough of Canada and Sergio Ríos Molina of Nicaragua — have obtained approximately 200...
From Extraction to Inclusion report cover

From Extraction to Inclusion

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.

Driving Dispossession report cover

Driving Dispossession

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...

Report cover

Nicaragua's Failed Revolution: The Indigenous Struggle for Saneamiento

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. Whereas...

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Blog

USAID project mapping and titling land in Petauke, Zambia in July 2018. Photo: Sandra Coburn

Land Unchained?

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 Andy Currier

Shifting land registries onto blockchain is a part of the broader move to "unlock the economic potential of land" in order to put more land and natural resources into exploitation by private interests.

SAL palm nursery

Who pays the price of King Leopold’s Bugatti?

Friday, September 4, 2020 Frederic Mousseau

On September 5, 2020, a private collection of some of the world’s fanciest cars, belonging to Hubert Fabri, a Belgian millionaire, will be auctioned at a sale at the Hampton Court Palace in London.

Maungdaw, Myanmar - Farm laborers and livestock in a paddy field. Image: FAO / Hkun La

New Laws Threaten Family Farmers and Ethnic Communities in Myanmar

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 Katherine O'Neill

The VFV Law, the Farmland Act, and the LAAR Law are designed to encourage the legal takeover of lands that millions of farmers and Indigenous people rely on for their livelihoods. The three laws are a potent combination which ensure that the practice of land grabbing – widespread in Myanmar under its previous military dictatorship – can continue, now concealed by false promises of 'economic development.'

Sigiriya fortress in the northern Matale District. Photo: The Oakland Institute

Land Privatization: Why Sri Lanka Must Reject the MCC Compact

Monday, August 17, 2020 Janhavi Mittal

A recent report by the Oakland Institute examines the MCC compact with Sri Lanka and raises alarm over the irreversible consequences of embarking on land privatization – when most of the land is public in the country.

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

Emperor Has No New Clothes

Thursday, 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.

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