Land rights are essential to development, so why not tie foreign aid to their protection?

The European Commission may soon issue a major policy change on this issue, British MEP Nirj Deva, vice-chair of the European Parliament’s development committee, said during a video interview with Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar at the European Development Days in Brussels.

He revealed he is working on a book about land rights with Andris Piebalgs, the EU development commissioner, about how people from the former Soviet Bloc countries understand the value of property better than in Western nations because they were deprived of it for so long.

Deva stresses he is “determined” to get Brussels moving forward on this issue so the European Union can benefit from the “$7 trillion worth of untapped capital sitting in the developing countries which cannot be used, because we haven’t recorded it, make it a legal entity and put it on the right side of the legal divide, so it is a part of a legally registered property rather than an unregistered property.”

“Then it’s a simple shift to register the property, give it value and then there’s equity,” he said, adding that everyone is now realizing it’s the only way to stop land grabs in Africa.

“Large tracks of land are being given by chiefs, overriding the wishes of his own people to foreign entities,” explained Deva. “So that those foreign entities and foreign countries can have food security, by growing their own food and exporting it back to the Middle East, whereas local people are starving.”

Check out the full video here for more insights from the British MEP.

Visit us at the 2013 European Development Days and watch out for more Devex coverage of news and views from Europe’s leading global development event of the year.

Although the #landmatters campaign has come to a close, discussions on the importance of land rights and security to international development will continue. Visit the microsite to view all the articles included in the campaign and continue the conversation in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn using the hashtag #landmatters.

About the author

  • Carlos Santamaria

    Carlos is a former associate editor for breaking news in Devex's Manila-based news team. He joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE ,and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York, and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.

Join the Discussion