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Land research including land grabbing - global and regional

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Title: Responsible Large-Scale Agricultural Investments in the Mekong Region: An Online Dialogue Summary Report
Date of publication: 27 October 2017
Description/subject: "The Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project and the Land Portal co-facilitated an online dialogue on "Responsible Large -Scale Agricultural Investments in the Mekong Region" between 09th and 27th October 2017...The Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project and the Land Portal co - facilitated an online dialogue on "Responsible Large - Scale Agricultural Investments in the Mekong Region" between 09th and 27th October 2017. Full online dialogue available on Land Portal website here Rationale Since the 1990s, a new wave of large - scale land acquisitions for agricultural investments has emerged world - wide and in the Mekong region, in particular. Land grants for agro - industrial concessions are not new and can be traced back to the colonial era. However, the convergence of the food, financial and energy crises in the mid - 2000s has intensified interest in large - scale forms of agriculture to unprecedented levels. In the Mekong region, significant areas of land have been granted to companies for agro - industrial investments, ie in Cambodia (2.1 M ha), Myanmar (2 M ha), Laos (0.4 M ha) and Viet Nam (0.25 M ha). This has been expected to generate Foreign Direct Investment in the agricultural sector, boost productivity and spur modernisation, and increase government revenues in countries that were thought to be “ land - abundant. ” In reality, the trend has proved problematic, principally due to impacts on smallholder farming systems, limited return to local economies, and overlaps of land claims leading to conflicts and evictions. Government, investors and international and national organisations have been increasingly involved in designing and implementing mechanisms to limit large - scale land acquisitions and better regulate agro - industrial investments. In the case of Cambodia and Lao PDR, governments established moratoria on large concessions..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Land Portal, Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project
Format/size: pdf (1.1MB-reduced version; 5.4MB-original), html
Alternate URLs: http://mrlg.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/RLSAI_An-Online-Dialogue-Report_FINAL_WEB.pdf
https://landportal.info/debates/2017/responsible-large-scale-agricultural-investment-mekong-region-... (online dialogue)
Date of entry/update: 09 November 2017

Title: Land Grabbing
Date of publication: 2012
Description/subject: "What rural dwellers in the Global South experience as land grabbing, tends to be seen in the Global North as ‘agricultural investment’. The World Bank has been at the forefront of a drive to legitimate these investments, convening to win support for a code of conduct based on Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI) principles. Many key civil society groups reject the proposal for a code of conduct, objecting to the top-down process by which it was formulated and arguing that it was more likely to legitimate than prevent land grabbing. Instead, these groups stood behind the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Land Investment, which had been under development since the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development in 2009 and had proved a much more inclusive process..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute
Format/size: html, pdf
Alternate URLs: http://www.tni.org/category/tags/land-grabbing
Date of entry/update: 05 May 2012

Title: International Conference on Global Land Grabbing (6-8 April 2011)
Date of publication: 08 April 2011
Description/subject: Organised by the Land Deals Politics Initiative (LDPI) in collaboration with the Journal of Peasant Studies and hosted by the Future Agricultures Consortium at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex...Rich site with full texts of more than 170 papers and presentations from the Conference
Language: English
Source/publisher: Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC)
Format/size: html, pdf
Date of entry/update: 27 February 2012

Title: "land grabbing documentary" - search results on Youtube
Language: English
Source/publisher: Youtube
Format/size: Adobe Flash
Date of entry/update: 03 September 2016

Title: Farmlandgrab.org
Description/subject: This website contains mainly news reports about the global rush to buy up or lease farmlands abroad as a strategy to secure basic food supplies or simply for profit. Its purpose is to serve as a resource for those monitoring or researching the issue, particularly social activists, non-government organisations and journalists. The site, known as farmlandgrab.org, is updated daily, with all posts entered according to their original publication date. If you want to track updates in real time, please subscribe to the RSS feed. If you prefer a weekly email, with the titles of all materials posted in the last week, subscribe to the email service. This site was originally set up by GRAIN as a collection of online materials used in the research behind "Seized: The 2008 land grab for food and financial security, a report we issued in October 2008". GRAIN is small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for food sovereignty. We see the current land grab trend as a serious threat to local communities, for reasons outlined in our initial report. farmlandgrab.org is an open project. Although currently maintained by GRAIN, anyone can join in posting materials or developing the site further. Please feel free to upload your own contributions. (Only the lightest editorial oversight will apply. Postings considered off-topic or other are available here.) Or use the ‘comments’ box under any post to speak up. Just be aware that this site is strictly educational and non-commercial. And if you would like to get more directly involved, please send an email to info@farmlandgrab.org. If you find this website useful, please consider helping us cover the costs of the work that goes into it. You can do this by going to GRAIN's website and making a donation, no matter how small. We really appreciate the support, and are glad if people who get something out of it can also help participate in what it takes to produce and improve outputs like farmlandgrab.org. If you would like to help out, please click here. Thanks in advance!
Language: English
Source/publisher: Farmlandgrab.org
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 14 October 2012

Title: Future Agricultures
Description/subject: A site with a large number of links to resources, including the papers of the 2011 International Conference on Global Land Grabbing..."FAC has been exploring what needs to be done to get different forms of agriculture – food/cash crops, livestock/pastoralism, smallholdings/contract farming/large holdings – moving on a track of increasing productivity and competitiveness. Through a series of debates, dialogues and conferences – at local, national and global levels – the Consortium has been asking in particular: what are the challenges for institutional design and wider policy processes, from local to global arenas?..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Future Agricultures Consortium
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 27 February 2012

Title: Mekong Land Research Forum
Description/subject: "The purpose of the Mekong Land Research Forum online site is to provide structured access to published and unpublished research on land issues in the Mekong Region. It is based on the premise that debates and decisions around land governance can be enhanced by drawing on the considerable volume of research, documented experience and action-based reflection that is available. The online site seeks to organise the combined work of many researchers, practitioners and policy advocates around key themes relevant to the land security, and hence well-being, of smallholders in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as the wider Mekong Region..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Mekong Land Research Forum
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 02 March 2016

Individual Documents

Date of publication: April 2016
Description/subject: "... In December 2015, representatives of governments, civil society organizations, Indigenous Peoples’ groups, and the private sector met in Paris for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The aim of this meeting was to determine a global path forward that would limit the rise in global temperature to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and allow countries to reach peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. With its recognition of the crucial role that forests play in achieving targeted emissions reductions, the Paris Agreement marks a major turning point in the global struggle to combat climate change. Yet, the final Agreement lacks key considerations for the Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IP/LCs) who have customary rights to a large portion of the world’s remaining tropical forests, as well as millions of hectares of degraded forests that could capture additional carbon through restoration. Although Indigenous Peoples and civil society groups from around the world advocated throughout the negotiation process that clear provisions securing IP/LC land tenure would be essential components of any successful and equitable climate agreement, text on the rights of IP/LCs was limited to the preamble. Ultimately, the Paris Agreement failed to take into account the significance of community land rights and community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) for realizing its ambitious goals. This brief presents a review of 161 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted on behalf of 188 countries for COP 21 to determine the extent to which Parties made clear commitments to strengthen or expand the tenure and natural resource management rights of IP/LCs as part of their climate change mitigation plans or associated adaptation actions. Of the 161 INDCs submitted, 131 are from countries with tropical and subtropical forests..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI)
Format/size: pdf (749K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs22/RRI-2016-04-Indigenous-Peoples-and-Local-Community-Tenure-in-the...
Date of entry/update: 22 April 2016

Title: The Political Economy of Land Governance in the Mekong Region
Date of publication: November 2015
Description/subject: "This report presents a political-economic analysis of land governance at the regional level, focusing on the Mekong Region The primary emphasis is on Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), but the paper also takes into account the regional role and land governance experiences of Thailand and China. The report is one in a series of reports on Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam that present country-level analyses of the poli- tical economy of land governance. The series is part of a research mapping and political-economic analysis conducted by the authors for the Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). The initiative is driven by concerns about security of tenure of small- holder farmers, ethnic minorities and women, against a background of land grabbing in various guises (see www.mrlg.org)... In this case, the Mekong is broadly coterminous with mainland Southeast Asia. While it takes the river as its defining motif, the region is much wider than the Mekong River and its tributaries. Alternatively framed, the Greater Mekong Sub-region is comprised of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the two provinces of China that border Southeast Asia (Yunnan and Guangxi). The project-specific definition of the region behind this report includes the CLMV countries. Sometimes referred to as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) latecomers, the once-socialist economies seek to integrate and capitalise their economies. In the context of land-based investment with which the report is concerned, Thailand and China enter as important players – providing a more complete picture of the region. 2 Political Economy of Land Governance in the Mekong Region A Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report defines “land governance” succinctly as follows: “Land governance concerns the rules, processes and structures through which decisions are made about access to land and its use, the manner in which the decisions are implemented and enforced, the way that competing interests in land are managed” (Palmer et al. 2009: 9).” Our working definition expands on the FAO definition as follows: “Land governance consists of the means by which authority is wielded and collective action applied in order to achieve particular social and economic out- comes through land use, distribution, access and security. Land governance is concerned with processes, institutions, laws, practices and structures of power involving a diverse range of public and private actors.” Land governance is a scaled issue, involving broad level influences at the global, regional, national and local scales. This paper seeks to explain the main parameters of land governance at the regional scale, with a particular focus on the Mekong Region. Our project of conducting a regional political-economic analysis considers the questions: Why apply political economy to an analysis of land governance, and what does a regional scale analysis entail? In other words, what makes land govern- ance a political-economic issue, and what makes it a regional issue? LAND GOVERNANCE: A POLITICAL- ECONOMIC ISSUE Not all approaches to land governance place it in the realm of political economy per se. Land governance can be approached from a number of angles. In a uni- versal and normative sense “good land governance” is sought through a range of global level assessment criteria (see, for example, The Land Governance Assessment Framework: Identifying and Monitoring Good Practice in the Land Sector, Deininger et al. 2011). The FAO has established a set of non-binding guidelines for “responsible” governance of land tenure and other natural resources (FAO 2012). A number of development assistance initiatives funded by Australian, German, Finnish, Canadian, Swiss (and other) bilateral development agencies have sought to improve land governance in the Mekong Region by programmatic means (see www.landgov.donorplatform.org). Each of these frameworks has its own emphasis; some are more market-oriented and some are geared to a liberal rights-oriented approach of social inclusion. However, all work within broad “good governance” criteria of transparency, rule of law, stakeholder inclusion and equitable market structures. While there is recognition of the need to adapt global concepts and criteria of ‘good governance’ to country circumstances, the political- economic embeddedness of land issues has often been overlooked. Only recently have some donors specifically sought to conduct political-economic analysis in recognition of program risks and failures attributed to insufficient account being taken of the context within which programs operate. For example, responding to the World Bank Inspection Panel that investigated the Land Management and Administration Project in Cambodia, Management of LMAP noted: “With the benefit of hindsight, Management recognises that ... a more detailed analysis of the political economy context would likely have identified ... that... numerous actors had strong incentives not to proceed with a trans- parent and public interest based classification and registration of State land” (IBRD & IDA, 21 January, 2011, p. 15..."
Author/creator: Philip Hirsch and Natalia Scurrah
Language: English
Source/publisher: Mekong Region Land Governence (MRLG)
Format/size: pdf (602K-reduced version; 702K-original)
Alternate URLs: http://mrlg.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Political_Economy_of_Land_Governance_in_Region_FA.pdf'>http://mrlg.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Political_Economy_of_Land_Governance_in_Region_FA.pdf
Date of entry/update: 17 January 2016

Title: The neoliberal agricultural modernization model: A fundamental cause for large‐scale land acquisition and counter land reform policies in the Mekong region
Date of publication: 05 May 2015
Description/subject: Abstract: "Large-scale land acquisition are not new in the Mekong region but have been encouraged and have gathered momentum since the end of the 90s, particularly Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. These acquisitions are realized by national and foreign companies from the region, particularly China, Vietnam, and Thailand in a movement strongly associated with economic globalization and neo-liberal policies which promote free flow of capital at the regional and global level and the adaptation of national spaces to the requirement of liberal and global markets (Peemans, 2013). It is striking to see how Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, with different political regimes and histories, have shifted radically from a model based on land ownership by the State’ with a relatively egalitarian land access by family farmers, to a model encouraging long term land leases that favor the emergence of large capitalist private and corporate owners and the abandon of land national sovereignty principles, sensu Borras and Franco (2012). In fact, the present policies favoring large scale concessions (largely at the expense of small holders and of indigenous peoples / ethnic minorities) can be considered as a “counter agrarian reform”, the opposite of land reform policies promoted by both socialist countries and by the USA (Alliance for Peace) in the 60s, although with very different modalities and objectives. Although different factors can explain these policy shifts, in particular widespread corruption and patrimonial practices of the political elites, on the one hand and geo-strategy and political influence of regional powers on the other hand, this paper argues that this model of agricultural modernization through FDI and large scale land acquisition is being promoted through the convergence of actors such as the international agro-industrial complex, International Financial institutions (IFI), some bi-lateral donor or government state owned funds/enterprises. The claims of this model, largely shared by the region’s middle class and intellectuals, can be outlined as follows: 1) an inflow of FDI – Foreign Direct Investment - is essential for economic development; 2) large-scale agriculture is more efficient than family farming in terms of economic development; 3) privatizing land facilitates investments and therefore increases land and labor productivity; 4) subsistence peasant and ethnic minority farmers are structurally incapable of agricultural development progress and would be better off if they become wage workers; and 5) the growing ‘modern economy’ will naturally absorb the work force coming out of agriculture and that of general population growth. All these assertions can be challenged to various degrees, both form a theoretical and empirical point of view. Available evidence indicates that economic benefits have not accrued at the level expected – either to family farmers or to the state treasuries – as cash benefits have been ‘privatized’ by domestic power elites hidden behind nontransparent one-party states, but also because many investments have produced disappointing results. The increase in number of landless farmers and rising number of land conflicts poses a serious challenge to the legitimacy and stability of the concerned states. However, although numerous case studies can be found, the aggregated information available on the impacts of large-scale agricultural investments is scarce. This paper will conclude by proposing as a strategy aiming to challenge the dominant ‘paradigm’ of agricultural modernization based on large scale agriculture and FDI, by research-based initiatives and policy dialogue at the regional level, as a way to improve land policies in favor of family farmers and ethnic minorities.".....
Author/creator: Christian Castellanet and Jean‐Christophe Diepart
Language: English
Source/publisher: RCSD Chiang Mai University, Transnational Institute etc.
Format/size: pdf (271K-reduced version; 294K-original)
Alternate URLs: http://demo1.mrlg.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/CMCP_55-Castellanet___Diepart.pdf
Date of entry/update: 17 January 2016

Title: Marginal Lands or Marginal People? Analysing Key Processes Determining the Outcomes of LargeScale Land Acquisitions in Lao PDR and Cambodia
Date of publication: 2015
Description/subject: "This chapter aims to overcome the gap existing between case study research, which typically provides qualitative and process based insights, and national or global inventories that typically offer spatially explicit and quantitative analysis of broader patterns, and thus to present adequate evidence for policymaking regarding largescale land acquisitions. Therefore, the chapter links spatial patterns of land acquisitions to underlying implementation processes of land allocation. Methodologically linking the described patterns and processes proved difficult, but we have identified indicators that could be added to inventories and monitoring systems to make linkage possible. Combining complementary approaches in this way may help to determine where policy space exists for more sustainable governance of land acquisitions, both geographically and with regard to processes of agrarian transitions. Our spatial analysis revealed two general patterns: (i) relatively large forestry related acquisitions that target forested landscapes and often interfere with semisubsistence farming systems; and (ii) smaller agriculture related acquisitions that often target existing cropland and also interfere with semi subsistence systems. Furthermore, our meta analysis of land acquisition implementation processes shows that authoritarian, topdown processes dominate. Initially, the demands of powerful regional and domestic investors tend to override socioecological variables, local actors’ interests, and land governance mechanisms. As available land grows scarce, however, and local actors gain experience dealing with land acquisitions, it appears that land investments begin to fail or give way to more inclusive, bottomup investment models."
Author/creator: Peter Messerli, Amaury Peeters, Oliver Schoenweger, Vong Nanhthavong and Andreas Heinimann
Language: English and French
Source/publisher: The Graduate Institude, Geneva
Format/size: pdf (940K-reduced version; 2.5MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/Peter-Messerli-Marginal_Lands_or_Marginal_People-Analysing_Key_P...
Date of entry/update: 24 March 2016

Title: Ethiopia - Land for Sale (video)
Date of publication: 30 January 2014
Description/subject: "As the economy thrives, we examine the plight of Ethiopians forced from their land to make way for foreign investors...the growth seen in agriculture, which accounts for almost half of Ethiopia’s economic activity and a great deal of its recent success, is actually being driven by an out of control ‘land grab', as multinational companies and private speculators vie to lease millions of acres of the country’s most fertile territory from the government at bargain basement prices..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Al Jazeera (People and Power)
Format/size: Adobe Flash (25 minutes)
Date of entry/update: 03 September 2016

Title: Reversing Land Grabs or Aggravating Tenure Insecurity? Competing Perspectives on Economic Land Concessions and Land Titling in Cambodia
Date of publication: 2014
Description/subject: Abstract: "This paper discusses Cambodia’s legal framework relating to Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) and looks at the implementation gaps. It argues that despite Cambodian’s legal framework governing land and ELCs being welldeveloped, its social benefits, such as protecting the rights of the poor and vulnerable an contributing to transparency and accountability, are almost non existent. Recent evidence suggests that the Government’s handling of natural resources is a far cry from its official land policy which is “to administer, manage, use and distribute land in an equitable, transparent, efficient, and sustainable manner”. This paper argues that this is due to (1) a large gap between the country’s legal framework and the implementation of the country’s land concession policies and (2) a complete disregard of the country’s customary land rights. Widespread corruption and nepotism encourages growing inequality in land ownership and a significant power imbalance between small groups of powerful, politically and economically well-connected elites and poor and vulnerable people in Cambodia. This is exacerbated by the lack of implementation of appropriate regulations. This elite exercises control over the judiciary and has created a climate of impunity, thus hindering the overall implementation of the legal framework and serving their own interests. The paper further looks into recent Government actions such as the moratorium on ELCs and a new land titling initiative to re-allocate ELC area and forestland to the rural poor and assesses whether these actions have the potential to reverse or perpetuate the current inequality in land holdings."
Author/creator: Christoph Oldenburg and Andreas Neef
Language: English
Source/publisher: The Law and Development Review; 7(1): 49–77
Format/size: pdf (1.4MB-original; 3.2MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/The-Law-and-Development-Review-2014-Reversing_Land_Grabs_or_Aggr...
Date of entry/update: 25 March 2016

Title: Securing the Right to Land
Date of publication: 2012
Description/subject: "Set against the backdrop of escalating food prices and worsening food insecurity, the issue of land becomes more relevant and urgent. The facts and figures speak of a great irony. More than half a billion people in Asia suffer from hunger and food insecurity, and too often these are the small food producers, who comprise farm laborers, tenants and small farmers. The region is home to 75% of the world’s farming households, 80% of which are resource-poor, and lack access to productive land. Farmers’ and rural food producers’ lives are closely bound up with their lands, which are their source of food and livelihood as well as their best chance of escaping poverty. For indigenous peoples (IPs), securing recognition of their customary rights to ancestral lands is indispensable to their right to self-determination, cultural integrity and identity. Unfortunately, these and other groups that till the land and depend on it for their survival have least access to it. Across many countries, improving access to land is key to solving many social problems, including rural unemployment, poverty, food insecurity, rural-urban migration, and political stability. Increasingly, the land access issue has been seen as a major reason behind armed conflict, domestic violence, corruption, internal displacement, structural violence and other social ills...... The Prolonged Struggle for Land Rights in Asia - A Regional Overview... Land Watch Asia Campaign Declaration.....Country Papers:- Bangladesh: The Backpedalling Stops... Cambodia: Overcoming a Failure of Law and Political Will ... India Riding the Crest of People’s Movements ...1 Indonesia The Persistence of Popular Will ... Nepal Asserting Freedom from Central Control ... Pakistan Fighting the Pyramid of Power ... Philippines Defending the Gains of Tenurial Reform ... Sri Lanka Land Ownership and the Journey to Self-Determination ..... Keywords: Asia Land Tenure Security Land Management Overview
Language: English
Source/publisher: ANGOC (Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development
Format/size: pdf (3.3MB)
Date of entry/update: 05 June 2016

Title: Political Dynamics of Land-Grabbing in Southeast Asia: Understanding Europes Role
Date of publication: January 2011
Description/subject: Abstract: "Land-grabbing is occurring at a significant extent and pace in Southeast Asia; some of the characteristics of this land grab differ from those in regions such as Africa. At a glance, Europe is not a high profile, major driver of land-grabbing in this region, but a closer examination reveals that it nonetheless is playing a significant role. This influence is both direct and indirect, through European corporate sector and public policies, as well as through multilateral agencies within which EU states are members. Looking at some of the cases of large-scale land acquisition in Southeast Asia, and the role played by the European Union, we put forward several observations and issues for discussion."
Author/creator: Santurnino M. Borras Jr. and Jennifer C. Franco
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transitional Institute (TNI)
Format/size: pdf (421K)
Date of entry/update: 24 March 2016