Monday, March 18, 2013

When Will the Poor Live In Peace and Security?

Land Grabs Spread Throughout Developing World 
Hunger and Human Rights abuses threaten fragile rural communities 
By Sophia Murphy 
Economy and Markets, Food and Agriculture, International 

Food Justice advocated have always argued that trade agreements need to respect and promote human rights, not drive a process of globalization that privileges commercial interests and tramples on public interests. In my new paper on land grabs from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, that position is affirmed. 

“Land grabs” are large-scale purchases or leases of agricultural or forested land on terms that violate the rights of the people who live on or near that land. The problem has commanded enormous public policy and media attention for the last few years. In our paper, IATP sets some context for the land grabs phenomenon. We focus on two forces that have contributed significantly to the problem:

Globalization, or the deregulation of trade and foreign investment laws, which has greatly eased cross-border capital flows; relaxed the limits on foreign land ownership; and, opened markets to agricultural imports. The food price crisis of 2007-08, which highlighted how fragile food systems in many parts of the world have become, and which shattered the confidence of net-food importing countries in international markets as a source of food security.

The situation is compounded by climate change and the resulting destabilization of weather patterns, which in turn has made agricultural production less predictable. Climate change has made domestic food supplies less certain and exports, too. In 2012, The United States, still a huge source of grains for international markets, lost 40 percent of a record large number of acres planted with corn to drought.

The sense of food insecurity has driven some of the richer net-food importers—countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait—to invest in growing food abroad for import to their domestic markets. That is one driver of land grabs.() The sense that our food systems are fragile and that supplies are scarce, where for decades they have been abundant, is another drive -- companies such as South Korea’s Daewoo are looking to source raw materials directly, rather than buying them on the market.

It’s not that investment in agriculture is a bad thing. Indeed, it’s sorely needed. But unless we have the conversation about what kind of investment, in what kind of agriculture, and in whose interests, then the investment does more harm than good.

Land grabs, as the label implies, have been overwhelmingly negative. They are associated with weak institutional capacity (and sometimes corruption) in the recipient country governments, as well as authoritarian governments in the investors’ home countries, making it hard to bring pressure there for better practices. The communities whose land is leased or bought are not adequately protected. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

IWECI -- We still can celebrate --

International Women's Earth & Climate Initiative (IWECI) 
—a project of the Women's Earth & Climate Caucus in partnership with era Global Alliance — 
is pleased to announce the launch of the IWECI 
Online Solutions Forum

Friday, March 8, 2013
International Women's Day

Join women leaders from around the world by contributing your voice to the chorus of women (and men) demanding climate change action and sustainability solutions! 
Network and collaborate with others.
We invite you to share your
ideas • research • projects • green businesses • campaigns 
Your compiled work will be presented to the delegates at the International 100 Women Summit for Climate Change and Sustainability Solutions, September 2013 in New York.

Monday, March 4, 2013

OXFAM takes on biggest food conglomerates

Oxfam thanks food industry for ‘bland’ and ‘complacent’ response to damning CSR report.

Oxfam will step up its campaign to improve the treatment of people and resources that form part of the supply chain of the world’s biggest food conglomerates, after it cast industry responses to its damning Behind the Brands  report as ‘bland’ and ‘complacent’. 

Oxfam: World's Largest Food Companies Creating Legacy of Destruction 

The world's largest food and beverage companies may be profitable, but according to Oxfam International their practices are helping to destroy not only the natural resources that support a global food system but the lives of the people they depend on most: their employees and their customers.