Etude opérationnelle

Large scale land appropriations Analysis of the phenomenon and proposed guidelines for future action

Mathieu Perdriault (AGTER), Michel Merlet (AGTER) | Comité Technique Foncier et Développement | 2010 |

Civil society organizations, international institutions and governments are becoming increasingly concerned about the appropriation and concentration of cultivable lands in numerous countries in the South and East by big businesses and corporations. This document is a synthesis of the available information on the situation, contributions from members of the Land Tenure and Development Technical Committee and research by members of an extended working group. It considers the meaning of ‘investment’ and the types of investment the world needs to achieve food security and protect the environment, distinguishes the privatization of common resources from the concentration of lands that are already recognized as private property, and identifies new elements of land appropriation and concentration. We are all affected by this phenomenon, which is now a major global issue. Employment, the creation and distribution of added value, and the production of food goods and environmental services all serve the general interest. Their regulation cannot be left to the play of the markets. Beyond the debate about different models of production, there are fundamental societal choices to be made. The proposals presented here are built around two principles:
i) protecting existing rights to land and resources, and ii) the need to recognize collective rights that ensure that private individual uses and rights are compatible with the general interest. These are explored at the national, regional and global levels. The authors recognize the importance of putting voluntary measures in place, but emphasize that the problem cannot be addressed solely by relying on the good will of socially responsible businesses. Therefore, they invite all concerned to:
– work towards establishing a genuinely binding legal framework at the global level;
– develop policies and mechanisms that reward labor and economic efficiency, and use land taxes to redistribute ground rents that it has not been possible to eliminate.