World Bank out of land!

International Statement | 12 May 2024

World Bank out of land! 
Against the privatization and financialization of people’s territories!
For the realization of the right to land and agrarian reform!

After a pause of some years, the World Bank is convening another Land Conference in Washington DC from 13-17 May 2024. The theme of this Conference is “Securing Land Tenure and Access for Climate Action” and, according to the World Bank, the Conference “aims to highlight effective strategies for securing land tenure and access in support of climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

As organizations of small-scale food producers, Indigenous Peoples, workers, grassroots communities and civil society, we have long recognized and denounced the World Bank as a key actor that participates in and enables land and resource grabbing, while facilitating the privatization of natural resources and their concentration in the hands of self-interested elites and corporations.

Indeed, the World Bank is itself a major land grabber, either by directly investing in projects or by making capital available for multinational investors, including through its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and its own asset management company. The Bank further provides guarantees and technical assistance while pushing governments to formulate laws and policies that aim at “enabling the business of agriculture” and other sectors.

In Africa and elsewhere, the World Bank has been a firm supporter of industrial plantations under the guise of ‘national development,’ which have perversely enriched corporations, dispossessed rural people and communities and laid to waste diverse eco-systems.

Moreover, the World Bank has a long history of pushing a market-based approach to land and natural resource management and governance, promoting the privatization and financialization of land, forests and fisheries, and transforming traditional and customary land rights into marketready private titles. The Bank’s “Market Assisted Land Reform” with its model of ‘willing buyerwilling seller’ that was pushed in several developing countries increased land inequality and poverty and created conditions for land concentration rather than redistribution.

The World Bank is a key actor of Rogue Capitalism, which transforms land, fisheries, forests and other natural resources into financial assets for speculation, and generates violence, dispossess sion of people and communities, and the destruction of ecosystems and Mother Earth.

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