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G8 implicated in land grabs risk - campaigners call for action at next week's summit

Posted by Georgette Thomas Oxfam Media officer, Oxford, UK

13th Jun 2013

Since 2000, companies in G8 countries have acquired land in developing countries more than the size of the whole of Ireland [1]. This is enough to feed 96 million people - the total populations of the UK and Canada every year - according to new figures revealed today by the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign. 

While a lack of transparency makes it impossible to know the circumstances of each deal, the pace and scale of secretive land investments is putting vulnerable communities at risk of land grabs, where they lose their homes and farmlands without compensation or consent - and often by violent means. In addition, secrecy surrounding these deals often means that even when companies are making responsible investments they can also be hit by crippling unforeseen costs as a result of unresolved conflict when a deal gets thrown into dispute with local communities [2]. 

With so much land being bought by companies linked to G8 countries and with a remit to promote investment, the G8 has a key role to tackle land grabs. The G8 are also pushing initiatives like the new alliance, which aims to use the private sector to help develop agriculture in Africa, but does nothing to protect the land rights of poor people.

The Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign is calling for G8 leaders, meeting in Northern Ireland next Monday, to shine a light on shady land deals and help stop land grabs. David Cameron, UK Prime Minister and Chair of this year's G8, has already expressed his ambition for the Summit to be an opportunity to help tackle global hunger. Pressure from the campaign, which saw 45,000 supporters gather in Hyde Park at the weekend to call on the G8 to take action on hunger, has helped to put land issues on the G8's agenda for the first time.

Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign spokesperson, Mark Goldring, said: "The secrecy on the ground and among investors means that nobody is a winner and for the world's poorest they can lose everything. The G8 must lift the veil of secrecy around land deals to help put an end to the scandal of land grabs." 

The campaign is calling for G8 leaders to establish a global platform called a Land Transparency Initiative (LTI) which would help improve land rights in poorer countries and support the UN's land standards [3]. This initiative should also require land investors to share details of both their investments and engagement with affected communities. The G8 must also get its own house in order by regulating all G8-based companies investing in land so the details of all deals are shared and affected communities are involved and heard in the negotiations.

Goldring said: "The UK government has put the scandal of land grabs on the G8 table. Now it is time for other G8 leaders to take action so the outrage of land grabs is not in our name." 

Land the size of Birmingham in developing countries is sold to foreign investors every nine days.

Enough Food for Everyone IF is a coalition of more than 200 organisations which have joined together to campaign for action by the G8 on the issue of global hunger. The last time we worked together at this scale was for Make Poverty History. Now that the G8 group of world leaders are returning to the UK, we are demanding they take action to tackle hunger for the 1 in 8 people who go to bed hungry every night, by: 
· Giving people in developing countries more control over their land by protecting poor farmers from land grabs and using land to grow food not fuel. 
· Clamping down on tax havens and launch a convention on tax transparency to stop the flow of billions of pounds out of developing countries - money that could be used to end hunger. 
· Helping poor countries make sure that everyone, especially children, have enough nutritious food to eat and support poor families to grow their own food. 

2013 won't be the end of hunger, but it could be the beginning of the end. Join us at

/ Ends 

For more information or interviews contact: Georgette Thomas on 07824 503108, or Sarah Dransfield on 07767 085636, 

The Enough Food IF campaign will have a team at the G8 in Northern Ireland and will be available for interviews, briefings and analysis. For more information, contact; Gemma Parkin 07988 482649

1) The amount of land is 11 million hectares, calculated from the new figures from the Land Matrix Partnership: This is a third more than the amount of Northern Ireland (1.4 million hectares) and the Republic of Ireland (7.0 million) combined. The total population of Canada and the UK is 98.4 million.

2) For an example, look at The Munden Project: The Financial Risks of Land Tenure: An Investment View

3) The UN Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure were unanimously agreed by the UN Committee on Food Security in 2012 and include wide-ranging provisions to improve land governance and tenure to improve the land rights of vulnerable communities.

Blog post written by Georgette Thomas

Oxfam Media officer, Oxford, UK

More by Georgette Thomas