Since 2009, Oxfam and others have been raising the alarm about a great global land rush. Millions of hectares of land have been
acquired by investors to meet rising demand for food and biofuels, or for speculation. This often happens at the expense of those who need the land most and are best placed to protect it: farmers, pastoralists, forest-dependent people, fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples.
The most comprehensive analysis of land deals – to be published next month – shows that we are now entering an era of implementation as contracts are increasingly signed and work on their intended projects started. This means we will see their full implications in the years to come. Up to 59 percent of these deals cover communal lands claimed by Indigenous Peoples and small communities, meaning that millions are affected. Yet only a small fraction of deals have involved any real dialogue with local communities. The potential for escalating conflict is huge.
Oxfam’s latest land rights campaign focuses on cases typical of the escalation we can expect. Women left behind. Rights ignored. Entire communities evicted from their homes. We are in the midst of the single biggest attack in the world today on people’s identity, rights, livelihoods and security, as well as our environment. They cannot afford to lose this fight, nor can we.