FEW DEVELOPMENT BENEFITS, MANY HUMAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS: Taking Stock of the Global Land Rush.
28 September 2021. LAND MATRIX: More than 10 years after the surge of largescale land acquisitions (LSLAs) by international investors for agricultural production, the impacts in developing countries are sobering, in part alarming.
- By 2020, the Land Matrix had recorded 1 865 deals with a staggering total targeted size of 33 million hectares (of which 30 million hectares are concluded), comparable in size to Italy or the Philippines.
- The expanding production on the acquired land poses significant threats to rural livelihoods and natural habitats. Swift and decisive action is needed to protect both, especially since between 9 million and 22 million hectares have yet to be put into agricultural production.
- Scant consultation with affected communities is common, and compliance with principles of responsible business conduct rare. The non-consensual and uncompensated loss of land experienced by local communities often comes with only little socio- economic benefits – be they employment, newly introduced technologies, or infrastructure. Overall, less than 0.5% of the national workforce will be employed on the acquired land in the majority of countries.
- Besides economic woes, LSLAs continue to destroy rainforests, natural habitats, and biodiversity on the agricultural frontiers of the Amazon, Southeast Asia, and the Congo Basin – and more than just forest resources are under threat; 54% of the land deals recorded in the Land Matrix database are intended to produce crops with high water use, even in dryland zones.
- Although progress has been made in terms of land governance, a lack of policy implementation in this area is evident. This is particularly apparent from our assessment of the application of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGTs) and the dismal transparency of most land acquisitions with little information being made available on investors, contracts, and production.
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