The Politics of Land Deals: A Comparative Analysis of Global Land Policies on Large-Scale Land Acquisition

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Abstract

Due to current crises, large-scale land acquisition is becoming a topic of growing concern. Public data from the ‘Land Matrix Global Observatory’ demonstrates that since 2000, 1,782 large-scale land transactions in low- and middle-income countries were reported, covering an area of more than 137 million hectares. Compared to 2014 the total amount of hectares has doubled, mainly due to a sharp increase of domestic land deals in terms of hectares. The majority of these land deals, also referred to as ‘land grabs’, took place between 2008 and 2010, peaking in 2009. International institutions as well as national governments and elites play a dominant role in initiating and facilitating these land grabs. Large-scale land acquisition often goes hand in hand with issues of displacement, weak governance structures, corruption, conflicts, and environmental damages. Several international institutions have taken the initiative in developing global land policies in an attempt to govern the global land grab. The effectiveness of these so-called ‘soft law' instruments is however increasingly being questioned. This paper therefore offers a comparative analysis on the effectiveness of global land policies on large-scale land acquisition. Currently the FAO-CFS Voluntary Guidelines and the AU Framework & Guidelines are being implemented. This research therefore specifically focuses on the effectiveness of these two land policy frameworks. Evidence so far reveals that in practice global land policies on large-scale land acquisition can be problematic due to: 1) their ‘voluntary character’ (no sanctioning mechanism on non-performance (legality indicator)), 2) land deals are often initiated and facilitated by nationals (elites) and/or national governments, 3) (increasing) vulnerability of ‘customary land rights’, mainly due weak governance structures and shortcomings in the implementation of land reform policies, and 4) ‘emptiness of consultations’, hereby referring to the ineffectiveness of the Free, Prior and Informed Consent principles. Issues of food sovereignty instead of food security are furthermore largely neglected.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2015
EventLANDac International Conference on Land Governance for Equitable and Sustainable Development - De Munt, Utrecht, Netherlands
Duration: 8 Jul 201510 Jul 2015
http://www.landgovernance.org/landac-international-conference/papers-and-abstracts-for-download/

Conference

ConferenceLANDac International Conference on Land Governance for Equitable and Sustainable Development
CountryNetherlands
CityUtrecht
Period8/07/1510/07/15
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Session: The role of guidelines and principles in improving land governance
The presentation can be downloaded

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