The agenda for the upcoming Earth summit in Rio this June has a glaring hole: land rights.
I have spent the last two years investigating the global epidemic of land grabs for a book. Saudi sheikhs, private equity whizz-kids, Indian entrepreneurs and Chinese billionaires all believe, with financier George Soros, that “farmland is going to be one of the best investments of our time”.
They are satisfying their newfound land lust from Mali to Mozambique, Cambodia to Kazakhstan, and Paraguay to Papua New Guinea, usually seeking out unfenced “customary” land to grow grains, sugar, vegetable oils and biofuel for sale on the world’s booming commodity markets.
This unprecedented corporate privatisation and enclosure of the world’s common lands – its pastures, fields and forests – is being done in the name of development. But much of it will destroy development and impoverish the poorest. Tuesday, the International Day of Peasant Struggle, is a good moment to call on the Rio Earth summit to declare a halt.
Read more at The Guardian
Paraguayan anti-riot police intervene in a dispute between local peasant farmers and Brazilian landowners. Photograph: EPA