Every two days, an area of land the size of Chicago is sold to foreign investors in developing countries.
Two thirds of those investors plan to export everything they produce on the land – in some cases, destroying local food supplies in places where food insecurity is already dangerously high and forcing many people to go hungry.
Investment can be an economic development tool but big land grabs like these force poor people from their homes and jobs. Time and again, communities are losing access to the land they rely on for food and to make a living, and it all happens without the information needed to make informed choices or the compensation they deserve to piece their lives back together.
As food prices spike for the third time in the past four years, new interest in land deals is expected to rapidly increase, putting even more communities at risk. This injustice must stop now before any more lives are ruined.
The eyes of the world are on The World Bank's newest leader, President Kim, as he takes the helm. Right now, we have a chance to influence him to change The World Bank and become a leader in stopping land grabs. Join us in taking action to protect the rights and livelihoods of poor people around the world – call on The World Bank to freeze its investment in large-scale land deals for six months and set better standards for the entire industry.
We need your voice now! Add your name to our petition to The World Bank today.
- World Bank President Kim
More than 60 percent of investments in agricultural land by foreign investors between 2000 and 2010 were in developing countries with serious hunger problems. Despite already high levels of food insecurity, two thirds of those foreign investors plan to export everything they produce on the land, with little if any benefit to local communities. Instead, land grabs are trampling rights, hurting thousands of poor communities and causing millions more people to go hungry around the world.
With food prices spiking globally, interest in land deals like these is expected to rapidly increase. As the world's leading standard-setter and a large land investor, the World Bank has a responsibility to stop land grabs and to protect the rights, lives and livelihoods of poor people.
I join Oxfam in urging you to temporarily freeze all land investments and put new measures in place that guarantee:
- Transparency: ensuring that information about land deals is publicly accessible for both affected communities and governments.
- Consultation and consent: ensuring communities are informed in advance, and can agree or refuse projects.
- Land rights and governance: strengthening poor people's rights to land and natural resources, especially women, through better land tenure governance as set out by the U.N. Committee on World Food Security.
- Food security: ensuring that land investments do not undermine local and national food security.
While you review your practice and advice to developing countries, help set standards for investors, and introduce more robust policies to prevent land grabs, I ask that you direct The World Bank to freeze all agricultural land investments. As a key leader in setting global standards and an important investor in land and agriculture, your actions are crucial to protecting poor people from land grabs and their very dangerous consequences.
Thank you for your consideration of this issue.
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