Understanding and fighting land grabbing locally and internationally

The old practice of multinationals corporations seizing land from vulnerable communities in developing countries for plantations, think the United Fruit Company and the banana republics of South America in the 20th century, and foreign and local governments seizing land from indigenous communities for mining, reemerged as a 21st century land grabbing juggernaut in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 world food price crisis. In Africa, Asia and Latin America large corporations are frantically acquiring land for cash crops and biofuels production. A research by Oxfam found that the land sold in land grab deals in the last decade could be used to grow food to feed 1 billion people. The growth in Communication for development (ComDev) has enhance networking between community rights advocates, allowing them to better coordinate response this escalation in land grabbing. Leading to the creation of several international initiatives, amongst them: the International Land Coalition (ILC), and the Rights and Resources Initiatives (RRI) created by a coalition of indigenous and community rights groups in 2005. RRI’s strategy involves supporting local struggles and working at the international level to create international norms, laws and regulations to stop these violations. A main part of the workings of the RRI is their Annual Global Planning Meetings which brings together their members, partners and collaborators to their Washington D.C. headquarters to discuss and deliberate upon their strategies and activities for the coming year. They also take the opportunity of the planning meetings to create video materials for their online videos resource. In the RRI video below Mr. Samuel Nguiffo, Director of the Center for Environment and Development (CED) in Cameroon and one of the architects of the FAO’s Respecting free, prior and informed consent Practical guidance for governments, companies, NGOs, indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to land acquisition, gives a quick look at how the typical land grabbing scenario plays out; and the importance of the role played by international institutions in this struggle for the right to land.