Grassroots International is supporting partners and allies in a global campaign to stop violent and illegal land grabs at their source: the massive financial investments of pension funds and college endowments.
Despite Cuyama Valley being one of the most severely overdrawn basins in California, Harvard recently proposed a plan to build three large reservoirs in the area for its vineyard, much to the chagrin of neighboring residents and farmers.
Students gathered in front of Harvard’s central administration to urge Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow to divest the University’s $39.2 billion endowment from farmland holdings around the world.
Harvard University, the US pension fund manager TIAA/Nuveen and Japan's Mitsui are among the foreign companies buying up Brazilian farmlands that are responsible for over 420,000 ha of deforestation in the Cerrado since 2000.
The fight over a vinyard in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains illustrates the risks that Harvard’s endowment once embraced with its unusual strategy of investing directly in massive agriculture projects around the world.