The FAO Forum on Food Security has invited interested persons to comment on the terms of of reference to be given to a project team that will examine the issue of land tenure in the context of international investments in agriculture. Based on the resulting final ToR, the project team is then expected to develop a report and recommendations for the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at its next session in October 2011.
Phew. Now that we are past all the acronyms, I hope readers will take the time to comment and to follow this process. The ‘global land-rush’ has, despite my best intentions, been sadly neglected to date on this blog. That said, it reflects the most existential land and property issues facing contemporary humanity and, as reflected in Chris Huggins’ excellent guest posting from last year, it is also an important point of contact (one might also say ‘conflict’) between human rights and development discourses related to land tenure. Indeed, the ‘land-rush’ label is somewhat misleading, as it applies to a diverse variety of practices, some of which may be sustainable, replicable and necessary, and others of which undermine both individual rights and sustainable development:
Governments stand at this crossroads where on the one hand, as many studies and analysis demonstrate, appropriate investments, efficient and effective use of natural resources and land may have both economic and ecological advantages under certain conditions but where, on the other hand, there are also typical examples of land grabbing with very negative effects for sustainable development, including social effects on small scale farmers, ecological effects such as decreased efficiency and effectiveness of the use of natural resources and the mining of soils.
In a world where food security is likely to require not only increased efficiency but also expansion of the area currently under cultivation, the report resulting from the current ToRs can provide some guidance on how to steer an unstoppable process in a sustainable direction.