- Published on Thursday, 23 September 2010 17:23
Send letters to the ministry in your country representing your government in FAO
La Vía Campesina
Dear Mr/Ms XX
The FAO estimates that in the last three years 20 million hectares have been acquired by foreign interests in Africa only. A global process is underway whereby powerful foreign private and public investors conclude agreements with states for taking possession of and/or controlling large surfaces of land (many involving more than 10,000 hectares and several more than 500,000 hectares), which are relevant for current and/or future food security of the host country.
Land grabbing has already picked up in the past 10 years as a consequence of excessive deregulation policies. The recent food, agrofuels and financial crises have provided the impetus for a surge in land grabbing by corporations, financial investors and a few governments trying to secure land resources as assets to fetch high returns. Corporations are seeking long term economic concessions for plantation agriculture to produce agro-fuels, rubber, oils, etc. These trends are also visible in coastal areas, where land, marine resources and water bodies are being sold, leased, or developed for tourism to corporate investors and local elites, at the expense of artisanal fishers and coastal communities. One way or the other, agricultural lands and forests are being diverted away from peasants, fishers and pastoralists to commercial purposes, and leading to displacement, hunger and poverty.
Land grabbing – even where there are no related forced evictions - denies land for local communities, destroys livelihoods, reduces the political space for peasant oriented agricultural policies and distorts markets towards increasingly concentrated agribusiness interests and global trade, rather than sustainable peasant agriculture for local and national markets and for future generations. Since foreign land acquisition is profit-oriented and largely for exports, it will foster the introduction/deepening of an industrial agricultural mode of production in the host countries. This mode of production will accelerate eco-system destruction and the climate crisis. Promoting or permitting land grabbing, therefore, violates the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It also undermines the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The upcoming session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on 11-14 October, 2010, in Rome includes a policy roundtable which will concretely discuss two international policy initiatives addressing the issues of governance of tenure and international investment in agriculture from the point of view of food security: the FAO Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Land and Natural Resources Tenure and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture (RAI). The latter are not conceived as public policy on agricultural investment nor as state regulation of private agricultural investment, but as self-regulatory policy advice to mitigate the negative impacts of large-scale land acquisition. For policies which are violating human rights and international law this is utterly inadequate. In contrast, the FAO Guidelines entail the opportunity to increase the protection of the rights to land and natural resources of all rural constituencies.
In light of widespread land grabbing, governments and the international community must urgently act to comply with their human rights obligations to respect and protect access to land, water and other natural resources of rural communities. During the upcoming session of CFS, I would like to request you:
to take measures in your sphere of competence and influence to ban land grabbing;
to give a strong mandate to the FAO Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Land and Natural Resources Tenure and include therein standards which effectively ban land grabbing;
not to support the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and settle all land related issues as part of the FAO Guidelines.
Please keep me informed about the measures you take in this regard.