Photo by: Jock Fistick / European Union

An international nongovernmental organization has released a report linking biofuels to an issue contributing to food insecurity: land grabs.

The production of more biofuels “has also been a key driver of land grabbing,” ActionAid notes in its latest report, “Lay of the land: Improving land governance to stop land grabs.” In Guatemala, for example, the “push for biofuels” has led to the eviction of communities, resulting in “displaced food production and augmented tenure insecurity.”

The same issue will be the subject of a panel discussion on the second day of the European Development Days 2012 in Brussels, Belgium. The Promoting Biofuels, Creating Scarcity? panel will discuss the impact of the European Union’s use of biofuels as part of the bloc’s renewable energy policy on food security. Panelists include Stina Soewarta and Jasmin Battista of the European Commission, Phil Bloomer of Oxfam GB, and Belinda Calaguas of ActionAid international.

Other meetings set to take place today, Oct. 17, at the annual event are discussions on youth employment, public-private sector investment in small-holder agriculture, importance of access to finance in inclusive growth, and challenges in fragile states. All of these will be live-streamed on the EDD website.

Meanwhile, here are some #EDD12 first-day highlights:

  • European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso underlined the bloc’s commitment to international cooperation amid a difficult global economy. The Commission has proposed a 20 percent increase in development cooperation in the next multiannual EU budget, he said.

  • What’s new with the European Commission’s recently released communication on resilience? Development leaders participating in a panel said they will set targets  to be measured against several indicators  and are “willing to be held accountable.”

  • A panel discussion on women entrepreneurship in Middle East and North Africa highlighted the need for greater financial literacy among women. Panelists also underlined the need to provide mentoring and role models to encourage entrepreneurship among women.

  • Invest in health innovations and direct aid to community health systems. These are some of the suggestions made to donors at a high-level panel on universal health care coverage. The French foreign affairs ministry’s Deputy Director General for Global Affairs, Development and Partnerships Jean-Marc Chataigner, meanwhile, underscored the need for donors to build health coalitions at the global level.

  • The European Commission announced it is working on a new communication that will mainstream nutrition in all its development programs. A new EU initiative on nutrition  to be launched in 2013  is also in the works.

  • A panel exploring the involvement of the private sector in development projects underlined the potential of “blending”  combining public and private sector funds for development finance.

  • Should governments require informal workers to pay taxes to bring them into the formal economy? This is one of the points made at a panel on the development of workers in the informal economy. Panelists, which include Finland’s Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala, said that simply promoting job creations and state regulations won’t be enough to create more formal jobs.

  • “It is very clear that we will not win the war against hunger, we will not win the war against malnutrition, we will not eradicate poverty, unless we integrate disaster risk management as a priority,” EU humanitarian aid chief Kristalina Georgieva said in a panel on disaster risk reduction.

  • The role of the private sector in development was highlighted once again in a panel discussion focused on Africa, which is becoming the investment destination of many businesses around the world. The panel, however, underscored the need for African governments to create a more enabling environment for both local and foreign businesses.

  • How should the international community finance social protection in developing countries? EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs believed money should come from national budgets — which was seconded by another panelist.

Check our EDD12 topic page in the coming days for our exclusive video interviews from Brussels. Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.