The scramble for land in developing countries is accelerating as investors look for new places to grow food for export, produce biofuels, or simply make a profit by speculating on land.
Land grabs are making poor people poorer by taking their homes, their livelihoods and their heritage. This is why Oxfam’s GROW campaign is launching a new action to put the brakes on the global land rush.
Women around the world depend on land to collect water, graze animals and grow food for survival. As land is pulled out from under the feet of communities – sometimes violently – women are losing access to resources and income. But, women in developing countries are standing up to land grabs – even at great risk.
While responsibility for land-grabbing lies with many—from governments to private investors—the World Bank stands out.
The World Bank is an international institution that provides a vital source of finance to developing countries around the world and is a huge investor on the global land scene. Not only does it act as a standard-setter for other investors and as a policy advisor to developing country governments, but its own investments in agriculture tripled in the last decade: from $2.5 billion in 2002 to $6-8 billion in 2012. While such an increase is welcome, it needs to be invested in a way that protects the rights of local people.
In recent years, 21 formal complaints have been brought forward by communities affected by World Bank land investments—they say that their rights have been violated. In all of these cases, communities have decried the lack of transparency, consultation and compensation.
People are standing up to say land grabs need to stop. We need to stand up with them.
The World Bank can play a key role in stopping the global land rush by freezing its own investments in large scale land acquisitions for six months. During this time, the World Bank should set better standards for itself and for other investors to follow – standards that protect the rights of poor people while encouraging positive investments in agriculture to help fight poverty.
The World Bank should make land deals more transparent so that investors can be held accountable to communities and local governments. It should ensure community consent for projects it invests in, and proper compensation for affected communities. The World Bank should also play a positive role in promoting land rights and good land governance.
The World Bank must take action now to stop land grabs.
The World Bank will be holding its annual meeting next week. the federal Minister of Finance – Canada’s governor to the World Bank – should ask the World Bank to freeze its land investments and review its policies and practices to prevent land grabs.
With your help we can put pressure on the Minister of Finance to take that vital first step to reining in the global scramble for land.
– Lauren Ravon, Policy Advisor, Oxfam Canada