Next steps to strengthen global land governance

The Conversation | 11 May 2016

Participatory community mapping and community land protection can yield tangible results for poor and vulnerable populations. (Photo: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

 by Ruth Hall and Ian Scoones
 Four years ago voluntary guidelines on the governance of land and land tenure were agreed at the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome. This was a response to growing concerns about the impacts of “land grabbing” driven by the global rush for investment in the wake of the food, fuel and financial crises in the first decade of this century. Getting the guidelines agreed was a long slog, involving many people. In a new report we examine what has happened since – and what challenges lie ahead.
The voluntary guidelines represent a unique example of collaborative “soft law”. The UN Committee on World Food Security offered the opportunity for direct involvement of all stakeholders – including governments, industry and civil society. This was a first for this sort of international law-making process. There was both disagreement and compromise, and not a little fudging, but the final document emerged as a globally-agreed platform for action. Given the controversial topic, and the vested interests involved, this was an amazing feat.  http://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/26125-next-steps-to-strengthen-global-land-governance

Namibia: Russian landlord in Panama Papers

The Namibian | 13 May 2016

Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov, who bought large tracts of land in Namibia, is among the long−serving clients of Mossack Fonseca, a disgraced law firm known for aiding the rich to hide their wealth in tax havens.

 By Shinovene Immanuel
 Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov, who bought large tracts of land in Namibia, is among the long−serving clients of Mossack Fonseca, a disgraced law firm known for aiding the rich to hide their wealth in tax havens.  Absentee landlord Sardarov is a 60−year−old flamboyant Russian oligarch with an interest in energy businesses, property, aviation, hospitality and hunting wildlife for fun.
He bought several farms in Namibia measuring 28 000 hectares (around 28 000 football fields) in 2013 through his Switzerland−based company, Comsar Properties SA. Sardarov wanted to build a game ranch 70 kilometres outside the capital city Windhoek.  http://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/26123-namibia-russian-landlord-in-panama-papers

China and Brazil in African agriculture

World Development | May 2016

Volume 81, Pages 1-92
China and Brazil in African Agriculture
Edited by Ian Scoones, Kojo Amanor, Arilson Favareto and Gubo Qi
A New Politics of Development Cooperation? Chinese and Brazilian Engagements in African Agriculture
Ian Scoones, Kojo Amanor, Arilson Favareto, Gubo Qi
  • Chinese and Brazilian development cooperation in Africa increasingly includes agriculture.
  • This involves agribusiness, contract farming, technology demonstration, and training.
  • Interventions are framed by Chinese and Brazilian domestic political economies and histories.
  • There is no singular “model” of Brazilian or Chinese agricultural development.
  • All interventions are renegotiated during development processes in Africa.
 South–South Cooperation, Agribusiness, and African Agricultural Development: Brazil and China in Ghana and Mozambique….http://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/26110-china-and-brazil-in-african-agriculture

Unprecedented deforestation in old Herakles plantation, now under new management

Mongabay | 6 May 2016

by John C. Cannon

The development of an oil palm plantation, which was thought to have been pretty much abandoned by the American company that ran it, has resumed in the Southwest Region of Cameroon, according to satellite data released by Greenpeace today on its website.
The plantation, once owned by New York-based Herakles Farms, became more famous over the past seven years for its environmental missteps and social blunders than for producing palm oil. Organizations including the Oakland Institute, the Forest Peoples Programme, and Greenpeace partnered with local groups to oppose the company’s work near Cameroon’s border with Nigeria. http://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/26104-unprecedented-deforestation-in-old-herakles-plantation-now-under-new-management

What price palm oil?

BBC | 9 May 2016

Photo: Getty Images
A group of community leaders from Colombia, Liberia, Indonesia and Peru have been raising awareness in Europe of the human and environmental impact of palm oil plantations on their communities. They would like European investors to reconsider their investments and how they are used. Ali Kaba, Liberian programme co-ordinator and senior researcher at the Sustainable Development Institute visited our studios here in London and explained why it was important to raise these issues.

Listent to the interview with Ali Kaba

Strengthening land governance: Lessons from implementing the Voluntary Guidelines

IDS | May 2016

By Ruth Hall and Ian Scoones with Giles Henley

Download full report

The *Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) are a globally negotiated and agreed framework endorsed in the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on 11 May 2012.

The VGGT represent a political agreement on the minimum standards for land governance, combined with an authoritative interpretation of international law. While in legal terms the VGGT are voluntary, they constitute a global consensus on a set of norms. They reflect knowledge and lessons learnt from decades of work on land tenure and governance of natural resources. Donors, governments, civil society bodies and others contributed their experiences and insights into the drafting and negotiations processes.
Now, four years on, what has been done to realise these principles? What are the current debates surrounding implementation of the VGGT? What challenges and obstacles have emerged, and how are they being addressed and resolved in different contexts? What are the ways forward for different stakeholders? This Land: Enhancing Governance for Economic Development (LEGEND) State of the Debate report discusses these questions.

Land rights at root of palm oil conflict in Liberia, campaigners say

Reuters | 6 May 2016

Ali Kaba, senior researcher at the Sustainable Development Institute in Monrovia, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that residents of areas leased as concessions to foreign investors are often evicted without rights to compensation.

By Matthew Ponsford
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The lack of tenure over ancestral lands lies at the root of violent clashes on land leased to foreign palm oil producers in Liberia, a leading researcher said.  The eruption of rioting on April 4 on a plantation in northeastern Liberia is the most recent case in more than a decade of conflict over land, with Liberians protesting against big palm oil developments operated by foreign producers.
Ali Kaba, senior researcher at the Sustainable Development Institute in Monrovia, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that residents of areas leased as concessions to foreign investors are often evicted without rights to compensation.  http://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/26099-land-rights-at-root-of-palm-oil-conflict-in-liberia-campaigners-say