Sustainable Land and Soil Governance

Large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) are a relatively recent phenomenon of massive, international purchases (usually by developed countries) of land (usually in poor countries of the global South). The phenomenon, sometimes referred to as “land grabbing”, currently affects about 203 million hectares of land worldwide. Proponents of LSLAs point to beneficial agricultural investments and technology transfer, and the need to satisfy the growing global demand for food, biofuels, and other natural resources. Other benefits cited for host countries include increased income and foreign exchange from agricultural exports, modernization of land use, and integration into global markets. But research into LSLAs reveals downsides, many of which affect small-scale farmers. Case studies show that LSLAs often dispossess people of land or curtail their access to natural resources including soil, water, grazing areas, and forests. This endangers people’s livelihoods, food security, income levels, and labour conditions – and it exacerbates social conflicts.

In three complementary research projects, this Cluster researches the links between LSLAs and soil sustainability: