Friday, March 01, 2013


PUBLICATIONS: RRI Publications on Large Scale Land Acquisitions

The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) announces the release of two new reports highlighting the significant risks (to both the economy and human rights) when key players in large scale land acquisitions ignore the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.

The first report, Landowners or Laborers: What choice will developing countries make? (pdf) reviews the state of rights and resources globally, and identifies the key choices and challenges facing developing countries that emerged in 2012.

It became clear during the year that many countries were desperate to replicate the recent economic successes of China and Brazil. Many are tired of being poor and are eager to see their economies grow quickly. Countries of sub-Saharan Africa aspire to be “lion economies,” following in the footsteps of Asia’s “tiger economies.” But the parallels are poor. Brazil, China, and Asia’s tigers drove economic development by liberating local enterprises and establishing local property rights. In Africa, nations have surrendered economic and political control of their land and resources, in effect, replicating economic systems created during the colonial era driven by resource extraction and export.

The lesson of history is clear. The inequalities and disempowerment resulting from these extractive political and economic systems are replicating the “resource curse,” in which nations become trapped in poverty and are riven by resentment and internal conflict, with growing risks of political turmoil. If countries choose open and inclusive democratic systems they can avoid this fate. But they will need to recognize local property rights and develop strong civil societies that keep citizens informed and hold leaders to account.

The second report, The Financial Risks of Insecure Land Tenure: An Investment View (pdf), prepared for RRI by The Munden Project, investigates the real financial consequences for companies investing in land where tenure rights are disputed.

This paper investigates the real financial consequences of investing in land with disputed tenure rights. It demonstrates that companies which ignore the issue of land tenure expose themselves to substantial, and in some cases extreme, risks. Using case study analysis, the paper connects ground-up financial thinking with empirical reality. In so doing, it makes a strong case for the need to integrate tenure-related risks more comprehensively into our financial architecture.

These and many other interesting analyses are available on RRI’s publications page.

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