Land eight times the size of the UK was sold off globally in the last decade, enough to grow food for a billion people says international development agency Oxfam. This is the equivalent to the number of people who go hungry in the world today. Oxfam warns that more than 60 per cent of investments in agricultural land by foreign investors between 2000 and 2010 were in developing countries with serious hunger problems. However, two thirds of those investors plan to export everything they produce on the land.
Oxfam wants the World Bank’s freeze to send a strong signal to global investors to stop land-grabbing and to improve standards for:
- Transparency – ensuring that information about land deals is publicly accessible for both affected communities and governments.
- Consultation and consent – ensuring communities are informed in advance, and can agree or refuse projects.
- Land rights and governance – strengthening poor people’s rights to land and natural resources, especially women, through better land tenure governance as set out by the Committee for Food Security.
- Food security – ensuring that land investments do not undermine local and national food security.
Hobbs said: “The World Bank, with a remit to tackle global poverty, has a responsibility to help stop land grabs and must take urgent action because the rush for land is only likely to accelerate as competition for food and natural resources intensifies. It must ensure that poor people’s rights are protected.”
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(Source: OXFAM press release)