Friday, May 30, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Herakles Farms (SG SOC) Misrepresenting the condition of our rain forest in Cameroon

Greenpeace accuses Herakles Farms of illegal felling through a front
company. The Link -

BetockVoices - Herakles Farms (SG SOC) Misrepresenting the condition

of our rain forest (and the social impacts of its development)……..
Herakles Farms (SG SOC) has claimed that the land targeted for its

plantation, "…consists primarily of fragmented and degraded landscape
devoid of any large tracts of the original moist evergreen lowland
forest with its characteristic dense and continuous closed canopy has
been heavily exploited and now remains as secondary forest…and of low
biodiversity value and is a biodiversity cold spot". To support its
claims, Herakles Farms cites letters from Cameroon government
ministries which state (without accompanied evidence) that the
plantation area has been heavily logged and is covered by "secondary
forest". Additionally, Herakles Farms cites its ESIA and HCV
assessment as evidence that extensive human use and commercial logging
have seriously degraded the habitat in the plantation area.

Bureaucrats repeatedly refused to acknowledge these facts on the
ground like corruption and land rights …….. In May 2013 a
German-Cameroonian a fact-finding mission to the Herakles Farms (SG
SOC) concession area has generated news coverage. The AFP article
posted was published in Les Echos. Interestingly, this article refers
to "corruption" and brings up the food and drink that Herakles Farms
has given communities.

Herakles Farms (SG SOC) has attacked reports, dismissing them as
uninformed and biased. Reports have details illegality…… corruption,
bribes, intimidation, inadequate community consultation and
insufficient environmental protection across the concession area.
Today Herakles Farms is a leading illegal Timber logging export
business and will destroy the local farming communities in our region.

"Corruption is a tragedy for Cameroon's agriculture and food security".
Voice of the voiceless

Are communities able to make "free" and "informed" decisions about
giving away their land? Corruption is any abuse of a position of trust
to gain an unfair advantage. This includes both corrupting someone
else and being corrupted oneself.

Posted by: BETOCKVOICES The Farmers <>

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[biofuelwatch] Liberia: UK company Equatorial Palm Oil risks closure

Liberia: UK company risks closure
Published: 27 May 2014
Posted in:  EPO | KLK | Liberia
New Democrat | 27 May 2014

Liberia: UK company risks closure

The United Kingdom crude oil producer Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO), risk closure as member of Grand Bassa County legislative caucus lobbies to ensure that the operations of the company be halted due to allegations of land grabs.

EPO provides employment to over 1,000 Bassa and Sinoe citizens since its establishment in 2008 following the signing of a revised concession agreement ratified by the National Legislature and signed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

But Senator Youngbe Kanga-Lawrence feels the company is exploiting the county through what she described as illegal clearing for farm land using the police to intimidate. In a communication to the Senate, Senator Lawrence informed the body that despite a concession land area of 34,500, the company was grabbing more land than its required land space.

"What is happening in our county is serious," she said. "EPO has begun an illegal clearing of our people's land and this action is being backed by other authorities including the Superintendent, Internal Affairs Ministry as well as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf."

She narrated that despite series of warnings and resolutions calling on the company to resurvey its current 34,500, acres of land, the company went beyond its required boundary. "This is terrible and we need to take some serious actions now, our people are dying," said Kanga-Lawrence.

She then requested the Senate to order a complete suspension of current operations of the company for violating the terms and conditions of the 2008 concession agreement. Furthermore, she said all parties should be made to appear before the full plenary of the Senate next week. But the Senator's letter generated a debate with others initially objecting to the suspension of the company's operations. "Do we have the power to halt the operations of the company?" asked Senator Joseph Nagbe of Sinoe County. "In my mind, I don't think so."

Others Senators including Bong County Henry Yallah, and Rivercess Senator Dallas Gueh, said the powers to suspend operations was vested in the Legislature (Senate and House) as prescribed in Article one of the Liberian 1986 Constitution, which among other things states: "All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require. In order to ensure democratic government which responds to the wishes of the governed, the people shall have the right at such period, and in such manner as provided for under this Constitution, to cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments."
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[biofuelwatch] Greenpeace alert: Save Cameroon’s Forests from Herakles

Email alert by Greenpeace International:

Save Cameroon's Forests from Herakles


Herakles Farms, a US company, has been chopping down miles of dense forest without the full authority to do so -- and in the face of desperate pleas and resistance from local communities.

The palm oil project will also destroy precious chimpanzee and forest elephant habitat if it goes ahead.

In February, Herakles began clear-cutting trees with an illegal permit in hand. The permit also allows the illicit timber to be sold on international markets. And this is all happening with the complicity of the Cameroonian Ministry of Forests and the full knowledge of the European Union (EU).

We must act fast. The illegal timber is now in port, leaving for markets in China any day now -- our window to stop the trade is closing.


ACT: Tell authorities to seize illegal rainforest timber about to leave Cameroon


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Thursday, May 29, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Herakles Farms: Champions of illegal deforestation in Cameroon

As investors fled and employees were furloughed, the few remaining supporters called for new management. New men were called in to stabilise Herakles and they acquired Presidential Decrees to finally officialise their presence in Cameroon (while violating law's on community right to consultation) – although ambitions were tempered when they received the right to only 20,000 hectares of land, way below the 70,000 they were originally after. The comeback was so impressive Herakles Farms was even named to Global Exchange's prestigious top 10 corporate criminals list. Read more -



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[biofuelwatch] Small farmers feed the world – with less than a quarter of all farmland

 New from GRAIN | 29 May 2014

Hungry for land: small farmers feed the world – with less than a quarter of all farmland

Governments and international agencies frequently boast that small farmers control the largest share of the world's agricultural land. But a new review of the data carried out by GRAIN reveals that the opposite is true. Small farms, which produce most of the world's food, are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world's farmland – or less than a fifth if you leave out China and India.

If the current processes of land concentration continue, then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on.

We need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems.

Read the report here:

The report includes a fully-referenced dataset available for download, a series of online maps and


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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Biomass Growth Capacity Drops in US [1 Attachment]

Biomass Growth Capacity Drops in US

- May 27, 2014, Bioenergy Insight 

Five new biomass plants with a total generation capacity of 10MW came online in the US last month, according to the Energy Infrastructure Update for April, published by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Since the start of 2014, 12 biomass-fired facilities producing a total 20MW of renewable energy have commenced operations. During the first four months of 2013...


Josh Schlossberg

Editor & Journalist, Energy Justice Now
Editor & Journalist, The Biomass Monitor
Steering Committee, Anti-Biomass Incineration Campaign, Energy Justice Network

Find Energy Justice Network on Facebook and Twitter

"Compromise is often necessary, but it ought not to originate with environmental leaders. Our role is to hold fast to what we believe is right, to fight for it, to find allies, and to adduce all possible arguments for our cause. If we cannot find enough vigor in us or our friends to win, then let someone else propose the compromise, which we must then work hard to coax our way. We thus become a nucleus around which activists can build and function." -- David Brower

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[biofuelwatch] 2,4-D soy: waging war on peasants

New from GRAIN | 26 May 2014

2,4-D soy: waging war on peasants

To study the history of how GMOs were forced upon us is to discover that we have come down the wrong road. Herbicide-resistant weeds have become a major problem, yet, during the first GE decade, corporations routinely denied their existence.

Now Dow Agrosciences is proposing new transgenics resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D which will translate into the application of millions of litres of even more toxic herbicides. The five countries where regulatory approval is being sought are among the world's chief GE soy producers, with a combined total of over 80 million hectares under cultivation.

But sustained resistance is growing in every country as the impacts of GM technologies are denounced and the fallacies that allowed for them to be rolled out are exposed. Our task is to make the failure of this technology universally known, dismantle the corporate power that keeps it afloat, and embark on the road to food sovereignty, striding alongside the small peasant farmers who do the real job of feeding the world.

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[biofuelwatch] Deutsche Bank divests from Bumitama after civil society pressure

Press release

For immediate release: Monday May 26, 2014



Deutsche Bank divests from Bumitama after civil society pressure



Brussels/Berlin, May 26, 2014 – Deutsche Bank has told Friends of the Earth Europe and Rettet den Regenwald that it sold its shares in the Indonesian palm oil supplier Bumitama, an important supplier to palm oil giant Wilmar, following months of campaigning by the two groups. Despite numerous promises to clean up its act, Bumitama continues to produce illegal palm oil.


Bumitama supplies palm oil to one of the largest global traders in palm oil, Wilmar International, and received financial support from well-known European banks including HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Rabobank. Deutsche Bank's announcement was made during their AGM on Thursday May 22nd, after the German NGO Rettet den Regenwald presented 87,900 signatures from German citizens calling on Deutsche Bank to divest from Bumitama.


Rettet den Regenwald spokesperson Mathias Rittgerott, who presented the signatures to Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen – theCEOs of Deutsche Bank – commented: "It is high time that a financial institution like Deutsche Bank listens to the voices of both its customers and German citizens. We do not support palm oil production, and we do not want Deutsche Bank to give any support to destructive palm oil companies."


Friends of the Earth Europe and Walhi-Friends of the Earth Indonesia have led campaigns against Deutsche Bank's investments since October 2013.


Anton P. Widjaya, director of Walhi-Friends of the Earth West Kalimantan said: "Deutsche Bank's divestment from Bumitama is a good start towards cleaning up the mess of Bumitama and this step must be followed by other banks and investors who wish to invest responsibly."


Friends of the Earth Europe presented participants at the Deutsche Bank shareholder meeting in Frankfurt with numerous cases of land-grabbing by Wilmar in Africa and Indonesia, including cases by Bumitama [1]. Mr. Fitschen responded that Deutsche Bank is in dialogue with Wilmar but is not ready to divest from palm oil companies in general because there is as of yet no alternative to palm oil.


Anne van Schaik, sustainability campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Deutsche Bank has taken a positive first step. Now it must continue along this path by divesting from Wilmar, who despite promises to improve its behaviour, have not solved its problems in the countries where they operate. The palm oil sector has so many cases of land grabbing, deforestation and environmental degradation that there is no excuse for responsible financiers to invest in it."


American and European financiers hold €371 million worth of shares in Wilmar, and have €1.1 billion in loans outstanding to Wilmar. In the Netherlands, ING holds more than €26 million in shares; the British bank HSBC holds €298 million in loans, while BNP Paribas and Dutch Rabobank hold €189 million and €111 million respectively. Deutsche Bank holds €4 million in shares and €12 million in outstanding loans [2].





[1] Continuing to exploit and deforest: Wilmar's on-going abuses, May 2014:

[2] Friends of the Earth Europe, Financiers of palm oil must stop deforestation and illegal activity, Nov 2014: 
Financiers of palm oil must stop deforestation and illegal activity | Friends of the Earth Europe



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Saturday, May 24, 2014

[biofuelwatch] U.S. wood pellets doubled in 2013 due to European demand

<< I noted this comment in the following article from Biomass Magazine - which normally repeats the mantra that pellets are only made from residues and waste:

"Wood pellets are traditionally manufactured from wood waste (including sawdust, shavings, and wood chips) that results from wood processing activities, but they can also be produced from unprocessed harvested wood (generally at a higher cost)." >>

y U.S. Energy Information Administration | May 23, 2014

Wood pellet exports from the United States nearly doubled last year, from 1.6 million short tons (approximately 22 trillion Btu) in 2012 to 3.2 million short tons in 2013. More than 98 percent of these exports were delivered to Europe, and 99 percent originated from ports in the southeastern and lower Mid-Atlantic regions of the country.

Wood pellets are traditionally manufactured from wood waste (including sawdust, shavings, and wood chips) that results from wood processing activities, but they can also be produced from unprocessed harvested wood (generally at a higher cost). Wood pellets are primarily used as a residential heating fuel in the United States, but wood pellets can also be used for commercial heating and power generation applications. As recently as 2008, the U.S. Forest Service estimated that approximately 80 percent of U.S. wood pellet production was consumed domestically. However, because of strong demand growth in Europe, wood pellet exports have been the driving factor in the growth of domestic wood pellet production in recent years.

Growth of U.S. wood pellet exports has been concentrated in southeastern states, which have advantages in terms of abundant material supply and relatively low shipping costs to Europe. Transportation cost is a large part of the total cost of wood pellets; for example, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, transportation accounted for a quarter of the delivered price of wood pellets from the Southeast to the Netherlands in mid-2013. Shipping costs generally increase with distance, so the proximity of the United States to Europe compared to wood pellet manufacturers in Brazil and western Canada provides a pricing advantage for U.S. wood pellet exporters.

European countries, particularly the United Kingdom, are using wood pellets to replace coal for electricity generation and space heating. A principal driver in market activity is the European Commission's 2020 climate and energy package, binding legislation enacted in 2009 that implements the European Union's 20-20-20 targets. The 20-20-20 targets have three individual goals for 2020: to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels, to increase the renewable portion of EU energy consumption by 20 percent, and to improve EU energy efficiency by 20 percent.

In 2013, the top five importing countries of U.S. wood pellets exports were all European: the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Italy. The United Kingdom accounted for the majority (59 percent) of U.S. wood pellet exports, and more than tripled its imports from the United States between 2012 and 2013.

The United Kingdom's wood pellet imports from all sources have grown from near zero in 2009 to more than 3.5 million short tons in 2013. Because of the United Kingdom's Renewables Obligation program, the operators of several large coal-fired power plants have either retrofitted existing units to cofire biomass wood pellets with coal or have converted to 100 percent biomass. The Drax power plant—rated at nearly 4,000 megawatts and the largest coal-fired power plant in the United Kingdom—is in the process of implementing plans to convert half of its six generating units to run solely on wood pellets. The first of these three units entered service in 2013, while the remaining two conversions are planned for completion in 2015. According to Eurostat, the United Kingdom is also a major importer of wood pellets from Canada and, to a lesser extent, from other European sources. Until 2013, Canada was the primary source of the United Kingdom's import supply.


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Friday, May 23, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Senhuile director arrested for alleged financial crime

New from GRAIN | 22 May 2014

GRAIN, Ndiaël Collective, Oakland Institute and Re:Common

Media release
21 May 2014

Senhuile director arrested for alleged financial crime

Benjamin Dummai, the Director-General of Senhuile SA, an Italian-Senegalese agribusiness project illegitimately occupying 20,000 hectares in northern Senegal, was fired by his board of directors and arrested by Senegalese authorities last week. Local media have reported that he has been accused of embezzling almost half a million dollars.

Local communities and civil society groups fighting for the ouster of this highly controversial project reacted immediately to the news. "Dummai's arrest and dismissal confirm our concerns about the murky international conglomerate behind Senhuile. We want this project shut down immediately," said Ardo Sow of the Collective of 37 villages of the Ndiaël region affected by the project.

International groups supporting the communities recently published a spate of reports pointing to the dubious past of Benjamin Dummai, who had previously been convicted of tax evasion and fraud in Brazil and was managing a secretive shell company behind the project in New York. "Why didn't APIX, the Senegalese investment promotion agency, do their due diligence on Dummai before they granted him a permit? And why did they give us such a hard time when we raised questions?" asked Renée Vellvé of GRAIN, one of the groups that looked into the corporate structure behind the deal.

Just two weeks before Dummai's spectacular arrest, Senhuile's board revoked his credentials and replaced him with the finance manager from the Italian headquarters of Tampieri Financial Group, who controls the majority 51% stake in Senhuile. "The arrest of Senhuile's key manager vindicates civil society claims and opposition to the project. It is time for Tampieri to publicly explain what's really going on and why the company insists on pursuing such a project," said Giulia Franchi of Re:Common, an Italian association campaigning to get Tampieri to pull out of the project.

Meanwhile, "the project is in the throes of growing troubles. From the dismissal of the CEO to the reduction of staff and activities in the project area in Ndiaël, the Senhuile project is unraveling. But the real scandal is that Senhuile/Senethanol still threatens the livelihoods and rights of 9,000 women and men in the North of the country, though more than 52,500 people from around the world have written personally to Tampieri demanding the closure of this project," said Frédéric Mousseau of the Oakland Institute, which issued a scathing review of the project in January.

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[biofuelwatch] Redirecting Government Support for Unsustainable Livestock Production key to Biodiversity Conservation




Deforestation-ParaguayAsunción, Paraguay – A new report and briefing paper launched by Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition on the International Day of Biodiversity highlight the negative impact of unsustainable livestock production in South America, the continent with the highest deforestation rates on earth, and the need to redirect the more than US $50 billion in subsidies that is supporting this industry.The report, Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock Production in Paraguay, which will be launched tonight at an event organized by Espacio Organico, Cultura y Participacion and the Global Forest Coalition in Asuncion, highlights how both cattle ranching and the production of soy as feedstock for the intensive livestock industry are causing devastating impacts on forests, biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples in Paraguay. 

"In 2013 alone, more than 268,000 hectares of forest were destroyed to expand cattle ranches in the Western half of Paraguay, turning it into the area with the highest deforestation rates on the planet" highlights Dr. Miguel Lovera of the Centro de Estudios e Investigacion de Derecho Rural y Reforma Agraria de la Universidad Católica de Asunción (CEIDRA) the main author of the report. "Indigenous Peoples, including tribes that have lived in voluntary isolation until now, are the main victims of this trend."

The briefing paper, Redirection of Perverse Incentives for Unsustainable Livestock Production: Guidance for the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Strategic Plan, highlights how this destructive industry continues to benefit from generous subsidies and other forms of Government support, both in the importing and in the exporting countries of beef and soy.

"The overwhelming majority of Paraguayan beef and soy is exported abroad, including to new economic powers like Russia" states Dr. Andrey Laletin, chairperson of the Global Forest Coalition and Board member of the Russian NGO Friends of the Siberian Forests. "Russian consumers should be aware of these impacts and opt for organically produced food from Russia itself instead."

"More than US $50 billion are handed out each year to the intensive livestock industry and other forms of unsustainable livestock production in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries alone, while they have committed only US $15 billion to support the implementation of the Convention on Biodiversity" adds Mia MacDonald, executive director of Brighter Green. "Redirecting these subsidies to more sustainable forms of agriculture would be one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to protect biodiversity, and the Indigenous Peoples and local communities that depend on it."


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Thursday, May 22, 2014

[biofuelwatch] India jatropha report

Report on jatropha in India - the government drive for jatropha plantations has petered out and projects have been abandoned to to poor yields. But a number of companies believe their new seed varieties - including genetically modified varieties - can produce biofuels in quantities that will be competitive with petroleum.

Nationwide, barely a third of the land earmakred for jatropha plantation has been used for this purpose. Jatropha is still being planted, albeit on a smaller scale, in some states including Chhattisgargh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.


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[biofuelwatch] World Bank and aid donors accused of enabling land grabs


World Bank and aid donors accused of enabling land grabs


World Bank and aid donors accused of enabling land grabs

Millions of smallholder farmers worldwide have been left homeless and hungry because of private investment promoted by policies such as tax breaks and cheap loans, says report, Wednesday 21 May 2014 16.07 BST
MDG : Biofuels in Ivory Coast
An Ivorian man harvests fruits from the Jatropha, which is used as a diesel substitute. The demand for biofuels is exacerbating land grabs, says ActionAid. Photograph: AFP

Aid donors and international institutions including the World Bank and World Economic Forum (WEF) have been accused of promoting an environment that fuels land grabs through policies and initiatives that pave the way for large-scale private investment.

In a report published on Tuesday, the NGO ActionAid says public money and policy incentives such as tax breaks and cut-price loans are facilitating land deals that threaten the lives and livelihoods of small-scale farmers in poor countries.

ActionAid warns that the consequences of such deals, which are too often happening behind closed doors and with little or no consultation with local communities, include "forced evictions, human rights violations, lost livelihoods, divided communities … rising food insecurity and, ultimately, increased poverty".

A spokesman for the World Bank said it was also concerned about the risks of large-scale land deals and stressed that it did not support investments that took advantage of weak institutions in developing countries.

ActionAid's report says weak governance and regulation of land use and agricultural investments have left millions of smallholder farmers and indigenous people in vulnerable situations "lack[ing] recognition over their land rights, even if they have resided in or used the area for generations".

ActionAid's campaign manager, Antoine Bouhey, said a "nexus of different policies" at the global level, which encourage private investment as a route to development, were also to blame.

"Governments are turning to private capital to fill the massive shortfall in public spending but too often this blind rush for investment is leading to land grabs which are leaving communities landless, homeless and hungry. Growth cannot be achieved at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable," he said.

The NGO's report points to the G8's New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition as one of the international initiatives "via which taxpayer money and public policies are fuelling land grabs" and failing to ensure strong safeguards to protect the poorest.

The New Alliance was condemned as a new form of colonialism this year, after African governments agreed to change seed, land and tax laws to encourage private investment.

Last month, World Development Movement, the anti-poverty group, said the New Alliance was in effect carving up Africa in the interests of big business.

ActionAid's report also looks at how governments of developing countries are facilitating large-scale land deals through direct intervention in sales and lease agreements, and by introducing public policy incentives such as tax holidays for agribusiness investors.

It says such deals, often justified on the basis of attracting increased investment into food and farming, have come at great human cost.

Public and private investment should be redirected towards supporting sustainable agricultural practices suited to the needs of smallholder farmers, particularly women, says ActionAid. A "zero-tolerance approach" must be taken by governments over land grabs and the incentives that fuel them.

Most of the 1.4 billion people worldwide who live on less than $1.25 a day reside in rural areas and depend largely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Globally, an estimated 2.5 billion people are involved in small-scale agriculture.

A World Bank spokesman said the organisation provided roughly a third of all aid to support countries in improving governance of land tenure. "Securing access to land is critical for millions of poor people. Modern, efficient, and transparent policies on land rights are vital to reducing poverty and promoting growth, agriculture production, better nutrition, and sustainable development," he said. "Our role is to be a leader in assisting countries to improve land governance and the behaviour of private investors."

Lisa Dreier, a senior director working on food security and development at the WEF, said its New Vision for Agriculture helped found the Grow Africa initiative, which created 33,000 jobs and gave 2.6 million small farmers in Africa access to technology, financing and new markets.

"Smallholder farmers are key to the future success of Africa's agriculture and governments can support them by implementing clear rules on land ownership that protect smallholder rights and encourage investment," she added.

What is a land grab?

"Many land deals are, in fact, land grabs carried out without proper consultation, consent and compensation," says ActionAid.

The NGO uses a definition of land grabs that draws on the Tirana declaration, agreed at a 2011 international conference. The declaration defines land grabs as deals that are "in violation of human rights, particularly the equal rights of women, not based on principles of free, prior and informed consent, or are in disregard or fail to thoroughly assess social, economic and environmental impacts, not based on transparent contracts … " or are not based on "effective democratic planning, independent oversight and meaningful participation".

Conclusive, independent data on the scale of land grabs worldwide is hard to come by. ActionAid's report looks at data from the international Land Matrix project, which suggests that the vast majority of large-scale deals have been struck in sub-Saharan Africa (41%), south-east Asia (32%), and the Americas and Caribbean (19%)


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