Global Donor Platform for Rural Development | 6 September 2010
'Rising Global Interest in Farmland – Can it yield sustainable and equitable benefits?'
This is the title of new World Bank report to be released on 8 September on this website. The report is widely expected to influence the global policy discussion as it provides ample empirical data on large scale land acquisitions with the aim to confront widespread speculation and inform the debate.
The Platform and IISD will host a moderated online discussion with key stakeholder groups on this website soon after the report's launch.
Land acquisition, investment and tenure: Central to peaceful development
Despite being central to peaceful development, economic growth and sustainable resource use, land issues have often been ignored.
Land tenure — The subject is closely linked to poverty reduction and food security, economic development, local government and legal issues. Climate change and expanding biofuel production is likely to lead to greater competition for access to land - posing a tremendous threat to the livelihoods of millions of farmers, pastoralists, fishers and forest dwellers with no formal land tenure rights.
Land acquisition — Due to its possible impact on local livelihoods and long-term development, the phenomenon of large-scale land acquisition has attracted considerable attention. Opinions are sharply divided from seeing it as an opportunity to overcome long years of underinvestment in agriculture which allowed countries to gain access to technology and employment and create the preconditions for sustained and broad-based development to the risks resulting from neglect of local rights, conflict, and environmental damage.
Formulating new principles
Many initiatives of officials, policymakers, think tanks, NGOs, the private sector have recently been focussing on definition of principles, guidelines and rules for governments and investors. As an input into this debate, the World Bank and partners formulated a set of principles for responsible agro investment (RAI) that respects rights, livelihoods, and resources (FAO and others 2010). Some saw these principles as narrowly promoting investor interest and argued for a broad consultation.
Rising interest in farmland
To advance the debate on how to implement the principles in practice and assess compliance, empirical evidence has been collated and processed in the World Bank study ‘Rising Global Interest in Farmland – Can it yield sustainable and equitable benefits?’
The study will be released on 8 September. It outlines options for different actors to minimise risks. It capitalises on opportunities to better contribute to poverty reduction and economic growth, especially in rural areas, which the long-term increase in value that drives land acquisition processes may affect.The plan to form a land governance initiative is seen as a possibility to increase disclosure and access to information by all parties. Further debate on how to shape such an initiative is hoped to result from an eDiscussion with major stakeholder groups hosted by the Platform and IISD staged on this website soon after the release of the report.