Thursday, February 16, 2012
PUBLICATIONS: IIED publications on the global land rush
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has recently released four briefing papers on the global land rush.
- Farms and funds: investment funds in the global land rush. Investment funds show a growing interest in farmland and agriculture. They are buying up land and agribusinesses in developing countries with the expectation of high long-term returns linked to rising land prices, growing populations and increasing demand for food. While the media has reported extensively on the involvement of these funds in the global land rush, the mechanics remain little understood by the broader public. What is the interest and what is driving it? Who are the players and what processes do their investment decisions go through? What are the impacts in recipient countries? And what action can be taken to promote investments that genuinely support local people?
- Are land deals driving ‘water grabs’? Investors in land often look for land with a high growing potential, which means land with lots of rainfall or land that can be irrigated. In multimillion dollar investments involving irrigation, investors typically want to secure water rights as part of the deal. Motivated by potential revenues from water fees and the prospect of improved agricultural productivity, many African governments are signing away water rights for decades to large investors. But they are doing so with little regard for how this will impact the millions of other users — from fishermen to pastoralists — whose livelihoods depend on customary access to water. Water managers must seriously consider the extent to which water rights should be linked to land in this way before setting a long-term precedent that could compromise sustainable and equitable supply to all users in the future.
- REDD+: Ready to engage private investors? The prospect of gaining carbon credits by acquiring land to implement REDD+ has caught the eye of the private sector. In many countries, including Papua New Guinea and Republic of Congo, there are reports of a carbon rush. In Mozambique, private investors have expressed an interest in acquiring more than 22 per cent of the country’s land for REDD+. But Mozambique, like many developing countries, is still in the early stages of preparing a REDD+ strategy. This briefing warns that encouraging private sector involvement before the country has the right policies and institutions in place to safeguard local environments and people risks undermining the potential of REDD+ for sustainable development.
- Biomass energy: Another driver of land acquisitions? Rapid expansion of biomass energy in the global North is fuelling demand for wood and increasing interest in tree plantations in the global South. But if biomass is sourced from food-insecure countries where local land rights are weak, there is a real risk that people could lose the land they depend on for their livelihoods. This briefing discusses the potential social impacts of biomass plantations in developing countries and calls for greater public scrutiny and debate about the issue.
Expect more IIED publications in this series in the coming months.