The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity has joined forces with a coalition of organizations to protest against the recent increase in land grabbing – transferring rights over agricultural land in developing countries to foreign investors, and to denounce its support by the World Bank (WB). The group, which includes Via Campesia, FIAN, Land Research Action Network and GRAIN, argues that land grabbing poses a serious threat to the food sovereignty and rights of local peoples and rural communities.
The organizations are concerned about the recent intensification of land grabbing in many countries, as state and private investors are leasing or buying up tens of millions of hectares of farmlands in Asia, Africa and Latin America for food and fuel production, and wealthy governments are leasing land for long periods of time to secure agricultural production capacity and future food supply for their countries. Agricultural lands and forests are being diverted away from smallhold producers, fishers and pastoralists to commercial purposes, and leading to displacement, hunger and poverty.
In response to this new wave of land grabbing, the WB, supported by the FAO, is promoting a set of seven principles to guide such investments and reduce the risks of social backlash, which include respecting the environment and the rights and livelihoods of local communities. The principles have been heavily criticized for attempting to create the illusion that land grabbing can proceed without disastrous consequences to peoples, communities, eco-systems and the climate.
“These principles will not accomplish their ostensible objectives. They are rather a move to try to legitimize land grabbing,” the group stated. “Facilitating the long-term corporate takeover of rural people’s farmlands is completely unacceptable no matter which guidelines are followed. With the current farmland grab, corporate driven globalization has reached a new phase that will undermine peoples’ self-determination, food sovereignty and survival as never before… Land grabbing denies land for local communities, destroys livelihoods… and will accelerate eco-system destruction and the climate crisis because of the type of monoculture-oriented, industrial agricultural production that many of these acquired lands will be used for.”
The group, along with farmer’s and indigenous peoples organizations, social movements and civil society groups assert that land should be kept in the hands of local communities, smallhold farming, fishing and pastoralism should be supported, and efforts should promote community-oriented food and farming systems hinged on local people’s control over land, water and biodiversity.
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