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

S.M. Verhoog

Research output: Contribution to ConferenceAbstractOther research output


Due to current crises, large-scale land acquisition is becoming a topic of growing concern. Public data from the ‘Land Matrix Global Observatory’ project demonstrates that since 2000, 1,609 large-scale land transactions in low- and middle-income countries were reported, covering an area of 68 million hectares. The majority of these land deals, also referred to as ‘land grabs’, took place between 2008 and 2010, peaking in 2009. New evidence reveals that local and national governments and elites are largely initiating and facilitating these land deals, mainly driven by Western investors in order to meet (renewable) energy and commodity demands in the nearby future.
Large-scale land acquisition often goes hand in hand with issues of displacement, weak governance structures, corruption, conflicts, and environmental damages. Several international organizations 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.
Evidence so far reveals that in practice global land policies on large-scale land acquisition can be problematic due to: 1) their ‘voluntary character’, 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.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014
EventCERES Summer School 2014: The Right to a Sustainable Future: the Ethics of Development and Environmental Change - Utrecht University, Janskerkhof/De Drift, Utrecht, Netherlands
Duration: 30 Jun 20141 Jul 2014


ConferenceCERES Summer School 2014
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Panel 7: Large-scale land acquisitions: politics and management
Chair: Marja Spierenburg


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