Globalization, Land grabs and fragile food systems (ELDIS)

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Land grabs and fragile food systems: The role of globalization

IATP have consistently argued that trade agreements need to respect and promote human rights, not drive a process of globalisation that privileges commercial interests and pushes public interests aside. This paper concludes that the globalisation enshrined in the free trade and investment agreements of the 1990s and 2000s have led to yet another manifestation of commercial interests trampling human rights – namely land grabs.

This paper is specifically focuses on two forces that IATP argue have contributed significantly to the problem: First, globalisation—more specifically, the deregulation of trade and foreign investment laws, which has greatly eased cross-border capital flows, relaxed the limits on foreign land ownership, and opened markets to agricultural imports. And second, the failures of the international trading system during the food price crisis of 2007-08, which eroded the confidence of food import–dependent countries in international markets as a reliable source of food and fed both speculative investment and investment in actual food production. This loss of confidence was compounded by climate change and the resulting destabilisation of weather patterns, which has resulted in less predictable agricultural production.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.