Taking stock of the global land rush – Evolutions, impacts and perspectives for responsible investment | Land Portal

Through presentations by academia, civil society and the private sector, this session assessed the evolutions and impacts of LSLA, in the framework of the implementation (or the lack thereof) of global frameworks. Results show that impacts of LSLA have been rather pessimistic in terms of socio-economic and environmental sustainability, with investor practices showing unsatisfactory levels of compliance with global guidelines. Examples of sustainable and inclusive production models exist, as shown through locally led agroecological practices or incorporation of socio-environmental values by larger corporations and funds. Upscaling these models and practices for systemic change will necessitate, besides other aspects, reducing intermediaries, decommodifying externalities and broad consumption awareness.


Key Takeaways

Investor and host countries show unsatisfactory compliance with the VGGTs

  • In Africa, 78% of all deals assessed show unsatisfactory levels of VGGT uptake and implementation, and 20% do not comply with any of the VGGT principles. Likewise, when LSLA deals are aggregated at country level, the large majority (87%) of countries assessed present unsatisfactory results regarding VGGT implementation (see figure 1).

  • Most problematic issues are: i) consultative processes; ii) respect of national law and legislation, including investment and land legislation; and iii) respect of legitimate tenure rights, including informal tenure of local communities and indigenous peoples (see figure 2). A recurring issue across all deals in Africa is the lack of data and dire state of transparency with regards LSLA.

This results in few development benefits, many human and environmental risks

  • The non-consensual and uncompensated loss of land often comes with only little socio-economic benefits – be they employment, positive productivity spillovers, or infrastructure.

  • “Business-as-usual” continues to destroy rainforests, natural habitats, and biodiversity on the agricultural frontiers of the Amazon, Southeast Asia, and the Congo Basin.

Alternative models exist. But is sustainable land use compatible with current agrarian capitalism?

  • Land sharing approaches like agroecology turn out more sustainable than monocropping. Solidarity-based economics also serve as an alternative to neoclassical paradigms deeply seated in policy making and mainstream academia.

  • The Renewable Resources Group (RRG), a major investment fund, focuses on generating environmental and social benefits as well as financial returns, and on addressing natural resource, labor, and environmental challenges.

  • For these examples to become mainstream, however, more needs to be done. Upscaling these models and practices for systemic change will necessitate, besides other aspects, reducing intermediaries, decommodifying externalities and broad consumption awareness.


Fig 1: Compliance rates with VGGTs per country – only 3 countries show satisfactory levels

Source: Land Matrix, 2022



Fig 2: Compliance rates with VGGTs per thematic – consultative processes; respect of national investment legislation, and respect of legitimate tenure rights are the most problematic

Source: Land Matrix, 2022

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LANDac Conference 2022
29 June 2022

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