Fern and Transparency International (TI) welcome the European Parliament resolution adopted on 7 June 2016, calling on the European Union (EU) to halt its support to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. The EU Parliament resolution urges the New Alliance to address the severe problems it is causing, including undermining sustainable small-scale food production and food security, and provoking land grabbing.
The New Alliance was launched in 2012 to promote sustainable investment in Africa, reduce food insecurity, and govern natural resources responsibly. However, early reports tell a different story: programmes linked to the New Alliance are responsible for land grabbing and displacing small farmers.
Numerous studies have shown that large scale land-based investments in developing countries are fuelling corruption and illegalities (Dealing with Disclosure, Global Witness, 2012), and can lead to biodiversity loss, deforestation, and other permanent environmental damage. The effects on customary systems of tenure and traditional livelihoods of millions of people and particularly women can be devastating. In Zimbabwe, for example, biofuel is often produced on land acquired in shady deals between an international investing company, the government, and unscrupulous local communities. In Cameroon, industrial oil palm monoculture development sponsored by EU financiers is depriving local farmers of their land and threatening large forest areas.
Fern and TI commend the EU Parliament for sending an important signal to EU donors as they consider increasing land based investments in Africa, and ask the EU to establish legally binding standards to regulate large scale land investments in developing countries. This will eliminate EU funding for projects associated with human rights violations, land grabbing, and deforestation.
We call on the EU to:
- Ensure implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure including its anti-corruption principles, as part of any land based EU funding.
- Apply and further develop anti-corruption legislation and ensure the complete disclosure of land deals, and the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, inclusive of men, women and young people.
- Increase policy coherence and synergies between international land investments and forest policies, including adopting specific measures to tackle large scale land investments, and associated rights abuses linked to conversion timber stemming from land use change for commercial agriculture and plantation development.
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