What Can be Done to Address Land Grabbing?
Action is required by host governments, investors, aid donors, civil society, and land owners.
Many of the countries where land is being sold or leased are countries that regularly need food aid. The question in these countries should not be to sell land to foreigners but how to make this land “available” to local farmers; provide overall support to family farmers; invest in rural areas and local markets; improve infrastructures, irrigation, soils and seeds. In addition:
- Support and develop social movements.
- Ask for a moratorium on land grabbing until policies and regulations are put in place to make sure that local people: participate in the negotiations, are treated fairly, and give their consent before the acquisition of the land.
- Independent consultants should be made available for free to the local population to help them in the negotiations and ensure that their social, economic and environmental rights are protected.
Global actions, such as those below, are vital to support the efforts of local people in protecting the little they have, and thus contributing to a future where everyone has enough to eat:
- Support family farmers. The support to millions of family farmers in the affected world regions would deliver greater returns than those coming from land acquisition investments. Yet, many of these farmers are being driven off their land. In agriculture, bigger is not always better. Small family farms are often more productive than large labor-intensive farms in developing country settings.
- Work towards securing local land rights.
- Create awareness and foster training and legal aid programs to help communities understand the challenges, protect their land rights and represent their interests in dealing with investors and governments.
- Demand Independent Impact Assessments. Assist governments, local population and farmers to develop expertise in ecological impact assessments.
- Work for greater government and investor transparency. Promote information sharing on land deals; contribute to the creation and implementation of monitoring systems.
- Support local communities and governments in monitoring.
- Empower local communities and involve national parliaments.
- Strengthen systems that protect land tenure of peasants and small-scale food producers.
- Make legal support available to people affected by investment projects. Identify a pool of lawyers willing to defend them for pro-bono or at low cost. This can help the community to obtain better deals from incoming investors – for instance, through providing land as in-kind contribution to a joint venture in which both the investor and the community have a stake; or through better compensation regimes and investor-community partnerships.
Reclaiming the common resources and services that are owned in common or shared among communities and over which people have certain traditional rights – such as common land, clean water, etc. The protection of the commons is necessary for a better distribution of resources and wealth.