The international landgrabbing picture: an update

Oil palm plantation development, South Sumatra

DTE 93-94, December 2012

Last year DTE reported on the global land-grab phenomenon and its connection to the 2008 financial crisis, the global food price spike of 2007/2008 as well as the ongoing climate change & energy crisis.[1] Since then, more analysis of data on land deals has become available which fills in some of the detail in the picture. In this update, we take another look at the global rush for land with a focus on investors and their obligations to the people affected by land-grabbing.

The recent surge in demand for land is being driven by powerful agro-industrial companies looking for profits from high value crops, by governments of land-poor countries wanting to secure food supplies outside their own borders, and by investors looking for a safe haven for their money in an unpredictable financial climate.  Changing patterns of food and energy consumption – more meat,[2] more agrofuels - are also driving demand for land, while rapid urbanisation eats up millions of hectares of agricultural land every year.[3]

Last year we reported the results of World Bank analysis of land deals in 81 countries.[4] New evidence from the Land Matrix Database, an independent initiative launched earlier this year,[5] tells of a continuing rush for land, though the pace of this has slowed since its 2009 peak.

Analysis released in April 2012 from the database shows that the majority of land deals are concentrated in just eleven countries, of which seven are African, and three are in Southeast Asia: the Philippines, Laos and Indonesia. The analysis confirms that investors are targeting countries with weak land tenure security, although they are also looking for high levels of investor protection. Around a quarter of the land deals in the database are in forested areas, and 45% of them target existing cropland or crop-vegetation mosaics, meaning likely conflicts with local communities. Investment is coming from wealthier, food-importing countries, and from public as well as private sources: private companies, state-owned companies, investment funds and private-public partnerships.

Trends driving the land rush are identified by the Land Matrix analysis as rising prices, population growth, growing consumption rates, market demand for food, agrofuels, raw materials and timber, carbon sequestration and financial speculation. Investors are being attracted to food crops (34% of the investments in the database) as well as non-food crops (26%); “flex crops” or crops including soybean, sugarcane and oil palm that can be either for food or non-food uses (23%) and “multiple use” crops (17%). This indicates a continuing trend for investment in agrofuels and high value export crops such as rubber. Most deals are geared toward the export market, with 43% of export-oriented deals aiming to send the production to the country of origin of the investors. Other results of the analysis – based on a smaller number of cases - show that governments are selling land used by smallholders, acquisitions are rarely based on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), there is “limited but worrying” evidence of evictions, and rates of compensation are low.[6]

A different set of data collected by the NGO GRAIN covers 416 large-scale land grabs from the year 2006 by foreign investors for the production of food crops. This confirms that Africa is the primary target for land grabs, though Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe are important destinations too. In Indonesia, 4.24 million hectares of land is included.[7] GRAIN names the USA, UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, India, the UK and Germany as major sources of investment. It also notes that the UK serves as a tax haven for land-grabbers, whose true operating base may be elsewhere. Most investors are from the agribusiness sector, but financial companies and sovereign wealth funds were responsible for around a third of the 298 companies documented.[8]

Land acquisition by large companies with backing from governments, institutional investors and development policymakers means that poor people in target countries are losing out, not only from lack of land to grow food, but also the appropriation and privatisation of common property resources such as water and forests.[9]


Greengrabbing, a term which has emerged as part of the landgrabbing analysis,[10] is generally used to mean land appropriation for environmental ends, where there are negative impacts on local communities. This kind of land acquisition may include debt-for-nature swaps and biodiversity offset schemes (where, for example a mining company claims it is offsetting the biodiversity it is ruining in one area by paying to protect it in another area). The term can also refer to measures to mitigate or adapt to climate change, such as REDD+ schemes and plantations to develop agrofuels as alternatives to fossil fuels.

Current debates around REDD+ and agrofuels make clear that there are huge doubts about their effectiveness in doing anything about climate change, and indeed there are well-grounded fears that they could make things worse. Landgrabbing for agrofuels and the human rights abuses that go with it have already been well-documented in Indonesia and elsewhere.  As far as REDD+ is concerned, unless strong human rights and resource rights guarantees and safeguards are put in place and maintained for poor people, these projects will be viewed as any other kind of landgrabbing - a means of transferring rights, access and benefits out of the hands of local communities and into the hands of big business; in the case of REDD+, the carbon credit business. [end box]

Investors and speculators

Who exactly is investing in the global land rush? As noted by GRAIN, a large number of land deals are being done by agribusinesses, but sovereign wealth funds, and financial companies are also buying up land.  At the same time, some of the world’s most important international institutions concerned with land, food and development are helping the process along by continuing to promote the private sector and global markets as the primary means of addressing global food and energy crises. This includes promoting opening up more land to private sector farmland investment.

The World Bank has drawn particular criticism from the peasants’ movement and civil society organisations in recent months. CSOs have accused the World Bank of playing a key role in the global land grab by making capital and guarantees available for multinational investors, providing technical assistance and support to improve the agricultural investment climate in target countries, and promoting policies and laws that are corporate-oriented rather than people-centred.[11]

According to a report in the Guardian, the Bank has tripled its support for land projects to US$6- US$8 billion a year in the last decade, though no data is available on how much of this goes to land acquisitions. The Bank’s private sector lending arm, the IFC, said it has roughly $4.85bn of agri-related investments of which roughly $600m has a land component. Total land holdings related to the investments amount to 0.7m hectares. The IFC says it doesn’t make financial land acquisitions for speculative purposes.

Oxfam is urging the World Bank to freeze its investment in large-scale land acquisitions to send a strong signal to investors to stop landgrabs. It wants the UK government, as one of the bank’s biggest shareholders, to push for this and, as president of the G8 next year, to put food, hunger and landgrabs at the heart of the agenda. Oxfam also wants the UK government to press the EU to reverse agrofuel targets since these are key drivers of landgrabbing.[12]

The heads of two other institutions came in for sharp criticism recently too, after writing an article heavy-handedly pushing private sector investment in food production in emerging economies. The article, ‘Hungry for Investment’ by president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Suma Chakrabarti, and director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Jose Graziano da Silva was published in the Wall Street Journal in advance of an agribusiness decision-makers’ summit in Istanbul, in September 2012.[13] Chakrabarti and da Silva argue that the world needs more food, meaning more food production and that the private sector can be the “main engine” of agricultural growth. Referring to emerging economies in Eastern Europe, Asia and North Africa, they argue for more private sector investment in emerging economies in land and for government support for policies that foster private sector investment. Small and “uneconomically sized farms” are among the issues holding countries like Turkey back and which need to be addressed, they say.

It is responsible private investment from around the globe that can fertilise this land with money – once the local business environment is right. Many countries are hungry for such investment- and their investment can help to make life easier for the world’s hungry.[14]

CSOs have expressed dismay, saying that this amounts to a worldwide call for more landgrabbing, a dismissal of the achievements of peasant farmers and the hard work done by CSOs to develop the FAO-hosted process to develop voluntary guidelines on governance and land tenure (see standard-setting section, below). In a joint statement La Via Campesina, GRAIN, Friends of the Earth International and others point out that, far from being inefficient, “[w]herever official data are available, as in the EU, Colombia, Brazil, or in the studies undertaken in Asia, Africa and Latin America, peasant farming is shown to be more efficient than large-scale agribusiness.”[15] A further argument here is that instead of investing in enabling large-scale investments by private sector actors, money should instead be invested in farmers.

Another food crisis

In recent months another global food crisis has been tightening its grip. The worst US drought in sixty years and severe drought in Eastern Europe is driving up prices, with soy and maize prices at all-time highs in July.[16] Cereals and vegetable oil prices remained at peak levels in August.[17] Rice prices remained relatively stable, and experts are not predicting a repeat of the 2008 food crisis.[18] Nevertheless, countries in the Middle East and North and Sub-Saharan Africa especially remain vulnerable to the current price hikes and the crisis has underlined deepening concern about the ongoing impact of volatile food prices on the world’s poorest. Already an estimated 1 billion people are chronically malnourished – one in seven of the world’s population.[19]

There are multiple connections between food prices and landgrabbing: the 2007/8 food price spike prompted some rich food-importing countries – such as the Gulf States – to seek greater control over their food supply by investing in food production in the global South. The use of agricultural land to grow crops for energy rather than food (including corn, palm oil, rapeseed, sugarcane and jatropha) continues to be associated with food price hikes, especially in years like 2012 where the harvest is poor.[20] Higher food prices affect the poor disproportionately because they spend a higher percentage of household income on food than better-off people and here the link between landgrabbing and malnutrition is evident: according to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, due to inequitable access to land and capital, smallholders and agricultural labourers make up a combined 70% of those who are unable to feed themselves today.[21]

Analysis by Oxfam of several thousand land deals in the last decade found that international land investors and agrofuels producers have taken over enough land around the world that could feed nearly 1 billion people. Oxfam says the land rush is “out of control and some of the world’s poorest people are suffering hunger, violence and greater poverty as a result”. Very few, if any, of these land investments benefit local people or help to fight hunger.[22]

Climate change & food prices

The close connections between climate change and food price volatility have been well-documented by reports from the ground, including in Indonesia.[23] Separate research commissioned by Oxfam has modeled the impact of extreme weather – like droughts, floods and heat waves – on the prices of key international staple crops to be expected in 2030. It suggests that existing research, which considers the gradual effects of climate change but does not take account of extreme weather, is significantly underestimating the potential implications of climate change for food prices. The research, says Oxfam, shows how extreme weather events in a single year could bring about price spikes of comparable magnitude to two decades of long-run price rises. “It signals the urgent need for a full stress-testing of the global food system in a warming world.”[24]

Speculating on Food

Market speculation is playing a key role too. “Banks are earning huge profits from betting on food prices in unregulated financial markets. This creates instability and pushes up global food prices, making poor families around the world go hungry and forcing millions into deeper poverty” says the World Development Movement (WDM). The WDM, Oxfam, La Via Campesina and many others are part of an international coalition[25] calling for regulation of commodity futures[26] markets to limit the damage.

A recent study by Friends of the Earth Europe of European institutions involved in agricultural commodity futures highlighted Deutsche Bank, Barclays, ABP (the Dutch pension fund) Allianz (German financial services group) and BNP Paribas.[27] FoE Europe is calling for tighter regulation in EU markets to curb the ‘monstrous’ futures markets which worsen food price volatility. They want improved transparency in these markets as a first step, plus limits on the size of bets speculators can make and other measures.

Pension funds & banks

Campaigners protesting outside a recent Agriculture Investment summit in London highlighted the role that pension funds play in landgrabbing, asking “Do you realize what your pension funds?” GRAIN, one of the groups protesting, says pension funds are reported to be the biggest institutional investors in both commodities in general and in farmland in particular. “Pension funds currently juggle US$23 trillion in assets, of which some US$100 billion are reportedly going into farmland acquisitions. By 2015, these commodity and farmland investments are expected to double.

 “They are displacing farmers, uprooting communities and food production, and destroying ecosystems on a massive scale, sometimes through promises of jobs, sometimes at gunpoint. People are being moved off with little or no regard for their historic or cultural rights. The grabbers want big spaces…and you can only get that if you take commonly owned ancestral lands. Sometimes they literally come to in to a village, put in an airstrip and a compound and roads and canals and the villagers are told to go to the nearest town and they lose absolutely everything. They are increasing hunger and poverty globally. In a world where 1 billion people already go hungry, land must stay in the hands of local communities so that they can feed themselves.” Kenneth Richter, Friends of the Earth. [28]

GRAIN’s documentation of 416 recent land grabs, lists pension fund investors from 9 countries, (USA, Australia and 7 European countries) including 13 public sector funds. For example, CalPERS (the California Public Employees’ Retirement System) is investing around 0.2% of its total US$231.4 billion funds in global farmland ventures, including in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.[29] Companies CalPERS invests in include the Indonesia-based Indofood (US$1m); Singapore’s Wilmar [30](US$24.5m), Olam (US$6.1m), and Golden Agri-Resources (US$8m); and Malaysia’s Sime Darby ($3.2m) and IOI Corp ($4.7m)[31], all of which have extensive plantations holdings or operations in Indonesia and some of whom have poor records on human rights and the environment.

FoE Europe’s study found a significant number of financial institutions across Europe involved in financing landgrabs directly or indirectly, including Allianz, Deutsche Bank, Generali, ABP, HSBC, Lloyds, Unicredit, AXA and Credit Agricole.[32]


Often  it is difficult to differentiate between investors in farmland and land speculators. Studies have revealed that many land deals do not result in actual implementation of cropland development on the ground, which may sound like a blessing for the communities who live there. However, research on land deals in Indonesia by McCarthy, Vel and Afiff, demonstrates that this ‘virtual land grabbing’ can still serve to profit particular actors, while marginalising others. ‘Failed’ projects may allow businesses to succeed in other ways, by providing businesses opportunities to access subsidies, to get bank loans using land permits as collateral or “to speculate on future increases in land values.”[33]

For some investors pure speculation is the prime focus. As noted in a Civil Society statement on the finance of land grabs issued in June this year, private equity groups and many specialised farmland funds often operate on the basis of a high return five-year exit strategy. Land investors themselves point out that they can easily make their profits by simply renting or selling the land.[34]

Infrastructure push

The World Bank and governments in the G20 have been criticised by CSOs for pushing large-scale infrastructure projects as pro-growth and pro-jobs, while they are more likely to benefit private sector investors rather than the poor. Since infrastructure projects like dams, power stations and roads, often require large areas of land, communities may lose land and resources, while missing out on the benefits.[35]

In Indonesia, the World Bank Group’s private sector investment arm, the IFC, is allocating around USD200 million for investment in the country’s infrastructure this financial year, aimed mostly at toll roads and water sanitation.[36]

The infrastructure agenda is reflected in the Indonesian government’s controversial MP3EI economic masterplan (see also separate article), which pays scant attention to social and environmental sustainability or climate impacts.[37]

Standard-setting & safeguards

The industry and policy-makers’ response to criticism about landgrabbing has been to draft new standards for companies engaged in acquiring farmland aimed at reassuring shareholders, investors and the public. These new sets of principles add to existing ones, such as the Global Compact and the Equator Principles (to which companies and banks sign up) and the World Bank and IFC’s safeguard policies.

In our last newsletter, we reported on the Principles for Responsible Investment in Farmland, announced by a group of institutional investors last year.[38] Meanwhile, the seven Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (PRAI) have been developed, co-sponsored by the World Bank, FAO, UNCTAD and IFAD. The Bank is now engaged in a process of assessing whether and how existing projects meet the PRAI, with case studies in Africa and Asia.[39]

The Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment

  • Principle 1: Existing rights to land and associated natural resources are recognized and respected.
  • Principle 2: Investments do not jeopardize food security but rather strengthen it.
  • Principle 3: Processes relating to investment in agriculture are transparent, monitored, and ensure accountability by all stakeholders, within a proper business, legal, and regulatory environment.
  • Principle 4: All those materially affected are consulted, and agreements from consultations are recorded and enforced.
  • Principle 5: Investors ensure that projects respect the rule of law, reflect industry best practice, are viable economically, and result in durable shared value.
  • Principle 6: Investments generate desirable social and distributional impacts and do not increase vulnerability.
  • Principle 7: Environmental impacts of a project are quantified and measures taken to encourage sustainable resource use, while minimizing the risk/magnitude of negative impacts and mitigating them.


Another main strand of standard-setting is the development by the FAO-hosted Committee on World Food Security (CFS) of the Voluntary Guidelines on governance and land tenure, “aimed at helping governments safeguard the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries.”[40] According to GRAIN, these guidelines, adopted in May 2012, are acclaimed for having secured international agreement by governments, and for putting emphasis on the rights and needs of marginalised people. Another round of CFS consultations on responsible agricultural investment, which includes civil society groups, is expected to start in November 2012.[41]

The arguments for and against voluntary principles or guidelines have been well rehearsed: on the one hand such standards can be used to raise awareness about issues and impacts, and provide opportunities for communities whose lives have already been negatively affected by landgrabbing to seek some measure of redress; on the other hand, they are voluntary, meaning that there are no real sanctions when companies fail to adhere to them. Moreover, the ‘damage limitation’ opportunities such standards may offer can be seen as a distraction from the more fundamental problems. In the case of landgrabbing these include increasing inequality in access to and control over land.

GRAIN argues: “rather than help financial and corporate elites to “responsibly invest” in farmland, we need them to stop and divest. Only then can the quite different matter of strengthening and supporting small-scale rural producers in their own territories and communities succeed, for the two agendas clash.”[42] GRAIN and other CSOs protesting outside the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty in Washington, April 2012, accused the Bank of promoting the PRAI  “to legitimise the global capture of people’s lands by big corporate investors for industrial agriculture” and accused the Bank of acting in total impunity. A joint statement titled “World Bank: get out of Land!” called on countries to stop the impunity and instead fully comply with their human rights obligations.[43]

A human rights-based approach to agribusiness expansion – which involves ensuring that states fulfil their obligations under international human rights law – is advocated in the Bali Declaration on Human Rights and Agribusiness in Southeast Asia, signed December 2011 (see box). While voluntary initiatives such as the PRAI, Voluntary Guidelines, as well as the Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are recognised, these, says the Declaration, must be complemented by actions by States “to comply fully with their human rights obligations, including the right to food, the rights of peoples to freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources and the right not to be deprived of a means of subsistence.”[44]

Bali Declaration on Human Rights and Agribusiness in SE Asia

The Bali Declaration was adopted at the end of a four-day conference attended by representatives of national human rights institutions of the Southeast Asian region, academics, indigenous peoples’ representatives and supportive national and international NGOs.

The Bali Declaration is important because it focuses on countries’ international human rights obligations relating to agribusiness – a key area of the debate about standards which is often downplayed in the discussions led by agribusiness proponents when developing voluntary principles and guidelines for the sector.

Hosted by Indonesia’s national human rights commission, Komnas HAM, the conference concluded that the lack of a dedicated regional human rights system or regional norms on land development in Southeast Asia meant there is an urgent need for states in the region to protect and secure the rights of indigenous peoples and rural communities whose rights are being violated by agribusiness investment and the operations of palm oil corporations. The participants resolved to work with governments, legislatures and businesses in the region to ensure that they take urgent steps to “reform or reinforce national laws and policies and policies relating to land tenure, agrarian reform, land use planning and land acquisition so that they comply fully with their countries’ human rights obligations.[45]

The Declaration makes recommendations on the Right to Food,i land rights, Free, Prior and Informed Consent, the right to personal integrity and security, smallholder and community options, workers, women, children, dispute resolution, access to justice, impact assessments, the Right to Development and Human Rights; and the ratification of human rights instruments.

These include recommendations on the Right to Food:

States need to accept that the right to food may be violated when people are denied access to land, fishing or hunting grounds, or are deprived of access to adequate and culturally acceptable food or by the contamination of food and water sources.

States therefore need to take measures to protect people’s rights in land and allow land owners to decide on the use of their lands taking into account their own livelihoods and, environments.

Recognising that peoples have diverse cultures and may relate to land in very different ways, States therefore have an obligation to respect collective property rights over lands, territories and resources, the right to culture and the right to self determination (including the right to pursue their own economic, cultural and social development)

States likewise have an obligation to protect certain activities that are essential to obtaining food (e.g. agriculture, hunting, gathering, fishing) and an obligation to provide or ensure a minimum level of essential food that is culturally appropriate.

And on land rights:

In reviewing their land tenure regimes, national governments and legislatures need to review and revise or reinforce their national policies and laws on agricultural development and land acquisition to ensure that they respect the rights of indigenous peoples and rural communities and do not facilitate the denial of people’s rights to food, to land and to free, prior and informed consent.

In revising their tenure systems, State should recognise that, while security of tenure is indeed crucial, individual titling, poverty eradication and the creation of a market for land may not be the most appropriate means to achieve it.

Instead, States should, where relevant strengthen, customary land tenure systems and review or reinforce tenancy laws to improve the protection of land users.

Drawing on the lessons learned from decades of agrarian reform, States must pay renewed attention to policies and procedures of land redistribution to ensure that they respect peoples’ rights to food, livelihood, cultural identity and self-determination. These reforms must be accompanied by measures to support smallholder farmers, indigenous people, and women to promote food security.

Land development schemes/programmes/mechanisms/projects must be designed in ways that do not lead to evictions, disruptive shifts in land rights and increased land concentration in the hands of corporations.*

While many land development programmes and policies focus on areas considered to be “empty”, “marginal” or “degraded”, States should recognize that there are few areas truly unoccupied or unclaimed, and that frequently land classified as such is in fact subject to long-standing rights of use, access and management based on custom. Failure to recognize such rights will deprive local communities and indigenous peoples of key resources on which their wealth and livelihoods depend.

And on rights to personal integrity and security:

ensure that there is rule of law, humane treatment and a peaceful environment in agribusiness development areas, and must secure people against violence and arbitrary arrest and prohibit the use by agribusiness ventures of mercenaries, privately contracted police and para-militaries.

The Bali Declaration can be accessed at

*Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to the UN General Assembly A/65/281, 11th August 2010.

i. Information about the Right to Food can be found at

What kind of land?

Recent research confirms what is painfully obvious for communities at the sharp end of land deals. Land is being grabbed from existing users. It is not, as governments, investors and other supporters of the land deals continue to claim, unused or underused land, ripe for development.

The FAO confirms that on a global scale, there is little land left for the expansion of agricultural land. At present more than 1.5 billion hectares of land is used for crop production (arable land and land under permanent crops) but “there is little scope for further expansion of agricultural land. Despite the presence of land potentially suitable for agriculture, much of it is covered by forests, protected for environmental reasons or employed for urban settlements.”[46]

Oxfam has dismissed the ‘unused land’ claim, arguing that much of the land targeted by investors is quality farmland, already being used for small-scale farming, pastoralism and other types of natural resource use.[47]

The dangers of continuing the empty land myth are spelled out more fully by Bali Declaration: “While many land development programmes and policies focus on areas considered to be “empty”, “marginal” or “degraded”, States should recognize that there are few areas truly unoccupied or unclaimed, and that frequently land classified as such is in fact subject to long-standing rights of use, access and management based on custom. Failure to recognize such rights will deprive local communities and indigenous peoples of key resources on which their wealth and livelihoods depend.”[48]

The real investors

Land is indeed at the heart of a global “resources-grab” which includes water, minerals, oil, gas, forests and marine life.[49] Current trends to commodify, or enclose nature go hand in hand with the massive transfer of land from the hands of small-scale farmers and local communities into the control of large-scale corporations, and their financial backers.

Yet evidence is accumulating that local communities and indigenous peoples offer more effective means of using and protecting the world’s dwindling natural resources than do big companies, or large-scale state interventions.[50] They have much more than anyone else ‘invested’ in their land and the natural resources they depend on: time and effort (sometimes amounting to generations-worth), expertise and traditional knowledge, as well as their own wealth. For many communities, their investment in the land extends to their whole socio-cultural life and identity as peasant farmers or indigenous peoples.

It is time decision-makers paid more attention to the demands and rights of these communities and put more effort into tackling over-consumption and restraining the markets to ease the pressures on food and land which are taking such a heavy toll on the poor.

Many thanks to Anna Bolin for her inputs to this article.



[1] See article in DTE 89-90, December 2011.

[2] See discussion on the impacts of higher meat production and consumption in China in ‘Who will feed China: Agribusiness of its own farmers? Decisions in Beijing echo around the world’, GRAIN, 4/Aug/2012 at

[3] ‘Resource Depletion: Opportunity or looming catastrophe?’ BBC News 12/Jun/2012

[4] See article in DTE 89-90, December 2011.

[5] The Matrix ( was set up by International Land Coalition (ILC) and It collates and seeks to verify records of agricultural land deals in low and middle income countries in the Global South and Eastern Europe, involving transnational companies which are over 200 hectares in size, have been concluded since the year 2000 and that entail a transfer of rights to use, control or own land through sale, lease or concession.

[6] See Transnational Land Deals for Agriculture in the Global South, by Ward Anseeuw, Mathieu Boche, Thomas Breu, Markus Giger, Jann Lay, Peter Messerli and Kerstin Nolte, April 2012, at, accessed 1/10/2012.

[7] Extent of farmland grabbing for food production by foreign interests:

how much agricultural land has been sold or leased off?, GRAIN,, accessed 3/10/12.

[8] GRAIN releases data set with over 400 global land grabs, 23 Feb 2012,, accessed 3/10/12

[9] New literature looks at “water grabs” for the wider consequences of large-scale farm projects as they consume the lion’s share of local water resources. See Guardian 31-08-12. See also Ben White, Saturino M Borras Jr., Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones and Wendy Wolford. ‘The new enclosures: critical perspectives on corporate land deals’ Journal of Peasant Studies, July 2012.

[10] A useful discussion of greengrabbing can be found at

[11] ‘World Bank: get out of land!’ Statement,  signed by Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale, FIAN International, Focus on the Global South, Friends of the Earth International, GRAIN, La Via Campesina, and the Transnational Institute - 23 April 2012, available at

[12] The Guardian 4/Oct/2012.

[13] Wall Street Journal, 6/Sep/2012

[14] Wall Street Journal, 6/Sep/2012

[15] Why are the FAO And The EBRD Promoting The Destruction Of Peasant And Family Farming?, 15/Sep/2012. Common Statement of La Via Campesina – GRAIN – FoEI – Coordinadora Latinoamericana De Organizaciones Del Campo (CLOC) – Re:Common – World March of Women – ETC Group – Latin American Articulation of Movements Toward ALBA.

Da Silva has also made public comments that appear to support small-scale farming, see for example:

[16] World Bank:

[17] FAO: World Development Movement (WDM) European Parliament vote on legislation to regulate financial markets: text falls short of what is needed to tackle food speculation, By Miriam Ross, 27 September 2012, at, accessed 1/10/12.

[18] Food Price Watch, August 2012 at, accessed 1/10/2012.

[19] See WDM, Oxfam estimated that the number of people without enough to eat could soon be more than 1 billion – see CAFOD’s estimate is a billion – equivalent to the combined population of the USA, Canada and the EU.

[20] See more detailed discussion in DTE 89-90, November 2011.

In August 2012, the FAO urged the US to suspend its biofuel mandate in order to curtail food price rises – see

[21] Bali Declaration (see below).

[22] The Guardian 4/Oct/2012.

[23] See for example report in DTE 83, December 2009

[26] Futures are agreements to sell a commodity at a certain price at a set time.

[27] Farming Money How European banks and private finance profit from food speculation and land grab, January 2012,

[29] See link to Pension funds investing in global farmland for food production, GRAIN, updated 2011 at

[31] IOI Group has been accused of illegally clearing land, misleading the Indonesian government and failing to comply with the terms of an RSPO grievance panel – see

[32] Farming Money: How European banks and private finance profit from food speculation and land grab, January 2012,

[33] John F McCarthy, Jacqueline A.C.Vel & Suraya Affif (2012): Trajectories of land acquisition and enclosure: development schemes, virtual land grabs, and green acquisitions in Indonesia’s Outer Islands, Journal of Peasant Studies, 39:2, 521-549.

[34] Land grabbing by pension funds and other financial institutions must be stopped, Civil society statement on the finance of land grabs, June 2012, FoE Europe.

[35] Access for the Poor? World Bank’s infrastructure approach under increased scrutiny, Bretton Woods project, 3/Jul/2012.

[36] Jakarta Post 5/Mar/2012.

[37] See for example DTE 91-92, May 2012.

[39] For more background and a thorough critique of the PRAI and other standards relating to landgrabbing, see ‘Responsible farmland investing? Current efforts to regulate land grabs will make things worse, GRAIN, 22/Aug/2012,

[41] GRAIN, 22/Aug/2012, as above. The Guidelines are available via

[42] GRAIN, 22/Aug/2012, as above.

[43] World Bank: get out of land!’ statement, 23/Apr/2012, as above.

[44] Bali Declaration on Human Rights and Agribusiness in Southeast Asia, adopted Bali 1st December 2011. See

[45] For an overview of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations, see DTE DTE Special Briefing March 2010.

[47] The Guardian 4/Oct/2012

[48] Bali Declaration, as above, page 4. Land classifications are, of course, politically motivated, and the political context which facilitates land-grabs also make land and tenure reforms so difficult and complex.

[49] An accessible visual presentation of time left on key world resources can be found at

[50]  See for example reports listed in Community & Indigenous Forest Ownership & Management: Potential to reduce forest carbon emissions, presentation by D. Kaimowitz, Ford Foundation.