Feed the Future
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Building a Public Knowledge Base to Inform Discussion on Large-scale Land-based Investments

Meaghan Murphy, Agrilinks Food Security and Agriculture Program Manager, recently participated in the Global AgriKnowledge Share Fair in Rome on September 27-29, 2011 and reported back on several of the sessions. Below is one of her reflections. 

One of the many interesting sessions at the Global AgriKnowledge Shair Fair in Rome included a discussion led by Michael Taylor of the International Land Coalition (ILC) and Gine Zwart, of Oxfam. In the session Land matrix knowledge system: a sneak preview of what the world’s largest database on large scale land-based investments tell us, Michael Taylor highlighted the work undertaken to date on researching, verifying, and compiling a database of land investments across the globe.

ILC, a global member based organization of over one hundred civil society groups and intergovernmental institutions, has led this effort along with five key partners to also enhance transparency, foster equitable negotiation, and equip citizens and policy makers to make informed decisions on issues related to land investments. Dialogue on distinguishing between transactions vs. investments; making geospatial country level data available at the local level; fostering a more evidence based discussion on debates on ‘land grabs’ in Africa, and other regions are just some of the ways the matrix is starting to have an impact on these issues. ILC makes its contribution through making the information available and accessible to the public to inform constructive discussion, debate, and decision making. The matrix will be available to the public shortly through the Commercial Pressures on Land Portal.

While ILC itself doesn’t do advocacy work, its partners like Oxfam often do. Gine Zwart of Oxfam, a member of ILC and one of the organizations supporting the database development efforts, shared how they have started using this information in a recent paper and advocacy campaign they have undertaken on Land and Power highlighting negative effects in six different countries from documented large scale land acquisitions.

One of the most surprising findings shared by both presenters and members in the audience after seeing preliminary data was the magnitude of this phenomenon of large scale investments through the driver identified in the research. Stay tuned through the Commercial Pressures on Land Portal and also hear more from Michael directly through the Agrilinks interview from the AgriKnowledge Share Fair.