UN Expert Cautions Against Large-Scale Farmland Investments, Urges Common Guidelines to Protect Land Rights

An independent U.N. expert urged world leaders to adopt a common set of guidelines to protect the land rights of their populations and to strengthen their bargaining position when negotiating with private investors.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter made the call following his warning against large-scale transfer of land rights to investors offering to “develop” farmlands. This, he said, threatens the food security of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

According to De Schutter, large-scale infrastructure projects, biofuel production, carbon-credit mechanisms and speculation are forms of “land-grabbing,” which has a negative impact on small-scale producers.

To avoid this, countries should agree on a set of far-reaching guidelines that will protect the security of tenure of smallholder farmers, nomadic herders and fisherfolk, which he says are all gravely threatened by current commercial pressures on land.

“We must escape the mental cage that sees large-scale investments as the only way to ‘develop’ agriculture and to ensure stability of supply for buyers,” De Schutter said ahead of the U.N. Committee on World Food Security in Rome Oct. 17 to 21. 

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About the author

  • Che de los Reyes

    As a senior staff writer, Che focuses on international development breaking news coverage as well as interviews and features. Prior to joining Devex, Che handled communications for local and international development NGOs and government institutions in the Philippines.

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