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Forth Bridge "Sold" in Land Grab

Posted by Lindsay Clydesdale Campaigns Press Officer, Scotland

6th Dec 2012

The Forth Bridge was among treasured British landmarks that were "sold" this morning, as Oxfam brought the need to tackle land grabs in developing countries to the public's doorsteps.

Oxfam put up "sold" signs the length and breadth of Britain, from the White Cliffs of Dover to the Angel of the North. In Scotland, campaigners staked SOLD signs in front of the iconic Forth Bridge, while activists will "sell off" various locations in Glasgow city centre and the historic heart of Inverness on Saturday.

The spoof signs are part of Oxfam's ongoing campaign to stop land grabs, which leave poor people in Africa, Asia and Latin America homeless and without access to the land they rely on for food to eat and to make a living.

A report by Oxfam showed land 26 times the size of Scotland was sold off globally between 2000 and 2010. Few of these deals have been adequately regulated or policed to prevent land grabs, meaning poor people are being evicted, often violently, without consultation or compensation. That land could grow food for one billion people.

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "With land the size of Hampden football pitch being sold in the world's poorest countries every second, more and more poor people are at risk of having their land grabbed from beneath their feet.

"By erecting these sold signs, without warning, outside landmarks so close to our hearts, we hope to bring home to people what experiencing a land grab is like. Land grabs often happen with no prior consultation - imagine being thrown off your land without warning and finding yourself homeless, landless, penniless and at risk of violence."

The UK is the third biggest base for land investors, according to the latest verified data on land deals. Oxfam believes that the UK government has a responsibility to act and lead the way on the introduction of more robust international standards to improve transparency and to protect the rights of poor people affected by land grabs.

Oxfam is pressing the UK government to ensure land grabs are addressed at the next G8 summit, which Britain is hosting next June, and at the major hunger event taking place during the days before.

The development agency also wants the UK government to push the World Bank - with a remit to tackle global poverty and as both an investor in land and an adviser to developing countries - to temporarily freeze its agricultural investments in land. This would give the World Bank time to review its own advice to developing countries, help set standards for investors and introduce more robust policies to help stop land grabs.

Judith Robertson added: "The amount of land worldwide that was sold in the past decade is enough to feed a billion people. If the UK government really is concerned about global levels of hunger, as it claims to be, then it should use the opportunity of the upcoming G8 summit to inspire global action to stop land-grabbing becoming the scandal of the 21st century."

Blog post written by Lindsay Clydesdale

Campaigns Press Officer, Scotland

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