GRAIN: Glimpse of World Bank Land Acquisition Report Shows 'Damning Findings'

Farmers and activists met participants of an April 25 roundtable discussion on responsible agriculture investment with signs protesting large-scale land acquisition, or what the demonstrators say is land-grabbing. Photo by: FarmLandGrab/ GRAIN

The World Bank may find it hard to shake off the “land grab” label off its large-scale land acquisition projects given the initial findings of its long-awaited report on such projects, nonprofit organization GRAIN says.

A glimpse of the report reveals that large-scale land acquisition is not beneficial to local communities, GRAIN notes.

“Environmental impact assessments are rarely carried out, and people are routinely booted off their land, without consultation or compensation,” the organization cites from the initial results presented during a April 26 World Bank land conference in Washington.

The presentation also reveals that investors are targeting areas with “weak land governance,” the organization adds.

“It is hard to see how, given these damning findings, the Bank could come up with anything positive to say about this new wave of foreign investment in farmland,” GRAIN says.

The nonprofit notes that the World Bank study was initiated to guide bank clients and partners interested in large-scale land acquisition on how to maximize the benefits of these investments.

The World Bank was scheduled to release the full report during the land conference but instead provided only a glimpse of the report’s findings. This is already the third delay in the release of the report, which the bank previously said it will release in December 2009 and in March 2010.

GRAIN also says no one is “fooled” by the World Bank and its partner’s propositions of “win-win” guidelines and codes. The land grab stigma is difficult to shake off the large-scale land acquisitions.

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  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.