From April 18-20, the World Bank will be leading discussions of how to operationalize “responsible” large-scale land acquisitions, centred largely around their “Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment that Respect Rights, Livelihoods and Resources” (RAI). According to a broad global coalition of social movements and civil society organizations, the push for RAI is “about creating an illusion that by following a set of standards, large-scale land acquisitions can proceed without disastrous consequences to peoples, communities, ecosystems and the climate… Even if done ‘transparently’, the transfer of large tracts of land, forests, coastal areas and water sources to investors is still going to deprive smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk and other local communities from crucial, life sustaining resources for generations to come. In many countries, there is an urgent need to strengthen systems that protect land tenure of peasants and small-scale food producers, and many social movements have been fighting for recognition of their rights to land for many years. The RAI principles will make any progress on agrarian reform or land rights meaningless.”
The coalition continues by stating that the “path to food sovereignty and justice” must be rooted in the “broad consensus [that] has grown over the past several years around the real solutions to hunger, the food crisis and climate chaos, namely that:
- peasant agriculture, family farming, artisanal fishing and indigenous food procurement systems that are based on ecological methods and short marketing circuits are the ways forward toward sustainable, healthy and livelihood-enhancing food systems;
- production, distribution and consumption systems must radically change to fit the carrying capacity of the earth;
- new agricultural policies that respond to the needs, proposals and direct control of small-scale food producers have to replace the current top-down, corporate-led, neoliberal regimes; and
- genuine agrarian and aquatic reform programmes have to be carried through to return land and ecosystems to local communities.”
Read the full press release on Focus on the Global South.