Investments, risks and dangerous legacies
ABSTRACT In their introduction to this journal issue, the Land Research Action Network warns that a new global wave of land grabbing is underway. The current trend of investments is triggered by the interrelated crises in food, finance, energy and climate that have been spurred by decades of corporate driven globalization,
neo-liberal policy regimes and natural resource exploitation. They argue that one positive outcome of the multiple crises is a renewed interest among peoples, academics, entrepreneurs, scientists and policymakers in alternative models of production, consumption and using energy and resources. They look forward to measures that will redistribute, protect and nurture land and water resources paving
the way for a new framework of governance of land and the natural commons, which puts local communities in control of their own territories and livelihoods.
KEYWORDS privatization; world bank; IAASTD; biodiversity; eco system; livelihoods
The issuing of land concessions and leases for tree plantations over large areas and for exces-
sive periods has led to social and environmental problems and required both the resettlement
of people and compulsory acquisition of the land which the people farm on.
The people have lost
their source of daily livelihood and lost their long-term rights to use the land. (Kham Ouane
Boupha, Head of the National Land Management Authority, Lao PDR, February 2007)
This rare and frank public statement, by a senior representative of the Lao Government1,
in its review of decisions to reallocate Lao’s fertile lands for agricultural investment,
could apply equally to other countries of the South. In the last five years, media reports
have started appearing of a new wave of investment in agricultural lands all over the
world. These reports have also carried cries of protests from communities whose lands,
without warning, had been summarily cleared and fenced. Deals often covering tens
of thousand, even hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland at a time, were signed
over by national and provincial governments under astonishingly lenient conditions,
enabling corporate control over significant areas of land for decades to come (GRAIN,
2008; IFPRI, 2009; Cotula et al., 2009;World Bank, 2010).