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 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

Report cover: Rainforest Action Network, CC BY-NC 2.0

Indonesia: The World Bank's Failed East Asian Miracle

Indonesia: The World Bank's Failed East Asian Miracle details how Bank-backed policy reforms have led to the displacement, criminalization, and even murder of smallholder farmers and indigenous defenders to make way for mega-agricultural projects. While Indonesia's rapidly expanding palm oil sector has been heralded as a boon for the economy, its price tag includes massive deforestation, widespread loss of indigenous land, rapidly increasing...

Report Cover, © Sapana Jaiswal, People's Archive of Rural India

The Great Ventriloquist Act: The World Bank's Bad Business in India

The Great Ventriloquist Act: The World Bank's Bad Business in India exposes how India's one-track focus on improving its DBR has allowed massive environmental, labor, and human rights abuses to take place. Most appalling is the case of Vedanta Resources Plc, a company that benefitted from the removal of environmental safeguards and was able to operate a damaging copper smelter within the city limits of Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu--a mere 8.4 miles...

The Great Timber Heist - Continued: cover

The Great Timber Heist - Continued: Tax Evasion and Illegal Logging in Papua New Guinea

The Great Timber Heist-Continued: Tax Evasion and Illegal Logging in Papua New Guinea makes public new evidence of financial misreporting and tax evasion in the logging industry in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Following the Oakland Institute's 2016 report , which alleged that financial misreporting by foreign firms resulted in nonpayment of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, the new report reveals drastic worsening of this pattern in recent...

Losing the Serengeti report cover

Losing the Serengeti: The Maasai Land that was to Run Forever

Losing the Serengeti: The Maasai Land that was to Run Forever is based on field research, never publicly-seen-before documents, and an in-depth investigation into Tanzania’s land laws. This report is the first to reveal the complicity between Tanzanian government officials and foreign companies as they use conservation laws to dispossess the Maasai, driving them into smaller and smaller areas and creating a stifling map of confinement. The...

Carbon Colonialism Report Cover

Carbon Colonialism: Failure of Green Resources’ Carbon Offset Project in Uganda

Carbon Colonialism: Failure of Green Resources’ Carbon Offset Project in Uganda exposes the continued and relentless attacks of Green Resources on the rights of local people and the environment in Kachung, Uganda. Following the Institute’s exposé in 2014 , revealing the mistreatment and violence perpetrated by the company in Uganda, Green Resources’ only carbon credit buyer, the Swedish Energy Agency, suspended funding...

Pages

Blog

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

Friday, 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

Monday, 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.

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

Friday, 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.

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

Thursday, 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

Tuesday, 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...

Pages