What’s Yours is Mined: How the extractive industries are leading a new wave of global land grabbing

The issue of land grabbing has itself grabbed headlines recently.  Biofuels, so-called agricultural investors, and commodity speculators buying up land have all been criticised for driving a wave of land grabbing and ecosystem destruction in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The resulting rise in food prices, and the reduced access to land, livelihood and home, means that the world’s poorest are hardest hit.

But in addition to these recognised trends, the Gaia Foundation is calling the alert on another major cause of global land grabbing: Mining.  Our recent report “Opening Pandora’s Box” signals a wake-up call that the scale, expansion and acceleration of the mining industry today are far greater than most of us realise.  We are no longer talking about isolated pockets of destruction and pollution.  New lands and communities, new ecosystems and virgin territories, new depths of earth and sea: all are now fair game for the expanding mining industry.  Continue reading

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A Climate-Smart Christmas present?

Soil carbon offsets are not the gift to Africa that they might seem

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Farming Carbon Credits a Con for Africa: The many faces of Climate Smart Agriculture

“African Agriculture has been ignored by UN Climate Change discussions!” bellowed the South African minister for Agriculture, Tina Joemat-Pettersen at the high-level launch of Climate Smart Agriculture during the Durban climate negotiations. “We need your ideas to over throw this dictatorship of Climate Change! No Agriculture, No Deal!”

Her words echoed those of South African president Jacob Zuma, whose own rhetoric forcefully pushing for a deal on Agriculture had raised eyebrows for ignoring UN etiquette that prefers its host countries to act as impartial facilitators.

However, South Africa was not alone in its vision for African Agriculture. On the same panel, Zuma and Joemat-Pettersen were joined by Kofi Annan, Meles Zenawi, Mary Robinson and Andrew Steer of the World Bank- all calling for Climate Smart Agriculture, and all clamouring for the UN to agree a work programme on Agriculture to make this happen.

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Food Sovereignty as solution to climate change:

New Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) launches to African beats

It certainly wasn’t an event typically seen during the fortnight of UN climate negotiations here in Durban.  An audience singing joyfully along with women farmers, Southern African youth grinning as they performed traditional dances, and the whooping and ululations ringing around the room, would have been enough to make you remember this day as something rather special and different.

But what really made the 4th of December launch of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) stand out, was the feeling of inspiration, optimism and empowerment, as 14 Pan-African networks joined together to demand and implement Food Sovereignty for Africa.  After a week of increasingly depressing climate negotiations, with corporate false solutions, and a steady grinding down of expectations, AFSA’s launch and message reminded us all that we are together, we have the solutions, and there is nothing to stop us making them happen. Continue reading

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World Bank & developed country plans for Agriculture:

 Lessons from Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement

PRESS RELEASE:    The Gaia Foundation, The Green Belt Movement, EcoNexus

[COP17, Durban]   At the UN Climate Change negotiations in Durban this week, the World Bank and developed countries are claiming that agriculture carbon offsets will bring money for African agriculture.

But civil society groups are worried that carbon offsets in agriculture will threaten African farmers and farming systems. 100+ civil society groups have signed a letter asking African negotiators to reject soil carbon markets.  They point to the collapse of the carbon markets and warn that carbon markets can open the door to land grabs and the establishment of industrial agricultural systems which threaten small-scale

Farmers are told they will be paid for storing carbon in soil

farmers’ livelihoods.

“But the World Bank is fighting back,” says Helena Paul of EcoNexus. “It seems determined to massively expand carbon markets by linking agriculture with REDD, using what the Bank calls the ‘landscape approach’, under the guise of so-called ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’. This implies putting all land into the carbon markets. The Bank is also launching new investor initiatives in Durban today.” Continue reading

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Climate Smart Agriculture and carbon markets will be a disaster for Africa:

Groups warn against Zuma’s agriculture prize at COP17

Press release from Gaia Foundation, African Biodiversity Network (ABN), Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) & EcoNexus

Date: Friday 2 December 2011

South African president Jacob Zuma has declared his intention to have a decision on Agriculture at the UN COP17 climate negotiations in Durban; while the World Bank is promoting so-called “Climate Smart Agriculture” and carbon offsets as the future of African agriculture and climate solutions.

But civil society groups in Durban are concerned that this vision for African agriculture will lead to land grabs, farmer poverty and food insecurity, and only worsen global climate change.

Teresa Anderson of the Gaia Foundation says “An agreement on Agriculture at COP17 would supposedly be a consolation prize to Africa for failure on legally binding targets – but the consolation prize is a poisoned chalice.  It will lead to land grabs and deliver African farmers into the hands of fickle carbon markets.” Continue reading

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Civil Society Calls on African Negotiators to Reject Carbon Markets for Agriculture

Funds for Agriculture Adaptation More Urgently Needed

Press release from Gaia Foundation, African Biodiversity Network (ABN), Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and Action Aid International

(November 28, 2011) Over 100 civil society organizations from Africa and around the world sent a letter earlier this week to African negotiators attending the UN global climate talks in Durban, calling for them to reject efforts to place agricultural soils within a carbon market.

Countries in Durban will consider whether to advance a separate agriculture work program within the global climate talks. The agriculture work program “would lead to agricultural soils and agroecological practices being turned into commodities to be sold on carbon markets, or used as sinks to enable industrialized countries to continue to avoid reducing emissions,” the letter said. The group noted that bringing African agriculture into international carbon market schemes could bring about a new threat of speculative land grabs to the continent. Continue reading

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