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puce Newsletter AGTER September 2019. The combat against desertification under the threat of international finance
Denis Pommier
La lettre d'information du réseau Agter

La lettre d'information du réseau Agter

The association AGTER runs an international network of people, exchanging and thinking together how to improve the governance of land, water and natural resources.The network selects and makes information available but it also formulates suggestions and alternatives to face the current great challenges. This quaterly newsletter is presenting the latest information available on our website : www.agter.asso.fr.

24 September 2019

The combat against desertification under the threat of international finance

by Denis Pommier

(agro-economist, member of AGTER)

In 2014, Sandrine Feydel and Denis Delestrac drew the attention of European public to the dangers of the financialisation of nature in the excellent documentary "Nature, the new eldorado of finance" broadcast by ARTE.

"How much is nature worth? How much can it bring in? The race for widespread profit and the global market have contributed significantly to the current ecological crisis. Yet the worlds of economics and finance claim to reverse the trend and save the planet by protecting it in their own way, with money. It is indeed the emergence of a new market, that of environmental protection" (Source: Nature, nouvel eldorado de la finance).

It will come as no surprise to anyone that speculators are eager to exploit new opportunities. On the other hand, it is extremely worrying that the governments of the majority of the world’s states should validate their theses and call on them to save agricultural land.

In fact, at the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) held in New Delhi in September 2019, were again included in the official texts clear injunctions to mobilize private investors to address the growing disaster of agricultural land degradation worldwide. Among the many objectives selected, "the Conference invites Parties [...] to consider [...] "Encouraging responsible and sustainable investment by the private sector in land restoration, conservation and improvement, and livelihood development, as well as exploring how to develop a business case, including the consideration of public funding to facilitate increased private investment(source UNCCD).

In addition to the risk of public funds being subordinated to the interests of large private investors, it is clear that Sustainable Land Management (SLM) is destined to become a new market, a godsend for making profits. Some call this "impact investing", a seemingly generous concept that in practice provides public funds for the development of large private companies. (source IFC)

At the end of the conference, the 196 UNCCD Member States committed themselves to Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030. In the words of COP14 itself, this means "reviewing development policies, including land use policies and agricultural practices, to promote large-scale ecological regeneration", but also "following the Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Land Tenure for Land, Fisheries and Forests to manage the effects of LDN measures on land tenure systems" and finally "including land security in national strategies to achieve the LDN". (source: UNCCD).

What will these beautiful principles be worth, since the responsibility of the financialisation of agriculture in the processes of exclusion of peasants and land degradation (through deforestation for plantations, through intensive agriculture) is not recognized, and that this same financialisation is promoted as one of the solutions? What will be the modalities for making the invested capital profitable and how can they be compatible with this call for land security for farmers?

It is noteworthy that the issue of land insecurity was in fact at the center of the reflection carried out during COP14, while the major issue of insufficient access to agricultural land for small-scale farmers has not been highlighted. How can we ignore the fact that the unbearable scandal of hunger for nearly 2 billion people (those who are hungry every day as well as those who cannot feed themselves according to their needs) is closely linked to an inequitable access to land for farmers? Indeed, the ¾ of those who suffer from hunger are peasant families, with no or insufficient access to land. COP14 therefore highlighted land insecurity without including the burning issue of inequalities in access to land.

Philippe Lavigne Delville, research director at the IRD (French Research Institute on Devopment) and member of AGTER, was recently invited to participate in Anne Cécile Bras’ programme "C’est pas du vent" on RFI (see article below). He reminds us that "most investment in agricultural land is made by peasants, in labour rather than capital or money", and that therefore "since family farmers are in viable economic conditions, they are the best stewards of nature".

The rationale for mobilizing private capital to invest in the rehabilitation of degraded land is that of granting or leasing land for 20, 40, 50 years or more and then leasing-it back to new producers. However, it is clear that "the rates of return sought by international investors are incompatible with what can be expected from land leases to small farmers". This new orientation therefore carries the risk of amplifying the grabbing of agricultural land by an ever smaller number of non-rural actors, which will inevitably reinforce "the logic of dispossessing family farmers in favor of a financialisation of agriculture and the environment".

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator, proofread by the author.


In connection with the September editorial, you will find an article referring to Philippe Lavigne Delville’s recent intervention on RFI, as well as the English translations of the summary of the December 2017 workshop on Soil Carbon Sequestration, and the conclusions of the round table that discussed the links with public policies (2 texts already available in French on www.agter.org).

We would particularly like to draw your attention to two other documents proposed below:
- the first result of the work carried out in 2018 by the Technical Committee on Land and Development on the evolution of agrarian structures in the world and young people’s access to land, co-led by AGTER: a special issue of the journal Regards sur le foncier on youth land access, containing a literature review and 7 articles on the intra-familial management of land.
- the publication of the book La terre en commun by Dominique Potier, Pierre Blanc and Benoît Grimonprez.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator, proofread by AGTER’s team.

article(s) French  Spanish English  - video Spanish English 


Structures agraires et accès des jeunes à la terre : gestion intrafamiliale du foncier et stratégies d’autonomisation des jeunes. Revue Regards sur le foncier # 7

15 September 2019, by Michel Merlet, Robert Levesque, Amel Benkahla, Charline Rangé, Jean-Luc Paul

Ce numéro de la revue Regards sur le foncier constitue un des produits de la réflexion collective menée par le Comité Technique Foncier et Développement pendant l’année 2018. Ce chantier de réflexion sur l’évolution des structures agraires et l’accès des jeunes à la terre a été animé par AGTER et SCAFR-Terres d’Europe. Il a mobilisé des chercheurs, des membres d’organisations paysannes et des praticiens de plusieurs continents lors de plusieurs rencontres. Les articles publiés dans ce numéro de la revue sont issus des communications présentées lors des journées d’études de Juillet 2018, complétés par une préface de Jean-Luc Paul, anthropologue et une revue bibliographique préparée par Charline Rangé, agronome.

Le casse-tête du droit foncier en Afrique. Philippe Lavigne Delville, invité d’Anne-Cécile Bras, dans l’émission "C’est pas du vent?" RFI

14 September 2019, by Philippe Lavigne Delville

Une émission très intéressante, à écouter entièrement sur le site de RFI, L’extrait que nous reprenons ici pointe le risque de nouveaux processus de dépossession des paysans au travers de la promotion d’investissements privés pour la "remise en état, la conservation et la bonification des terres".

Table-ronde "Dépossessions foncières : entre pression et oppression. 20/09/2019. 11h-12h30. Festival des Tropikantes.

3 September 2019

Débat dans le cadre du FESTIVAL LES TROPIKANTES organisé par les étudiant.e.s de l’IEDES (Université Paris 1 - La Sorbonne) au Jardin d’agronomie tropicale de Paris, Nogent sur Marne, et à l’occasion de la parution du dossier thématique de la Revue internationale des études du développement et présentation de travaux d’étudiantes du module "Tensions foncières" (master 1) animé par différents membres d’AGTER. (compte rendu à venir)

La terre en commun. Plaidoyer pour une justice foncière

1 September 2019, by Dominique Potier, Pierre Blanc, Benoît Grimonprez

Publication de la Fondation Jean Jaurès, accessible en ligne, qui traite de la concentration, la dégradation voire parfois la prédation des terres agricoles en confrontant trois regards, la géopolitique, le droit et la réflexion politique. Les auteurs posent les bases d’un projet politique fondé sur la redéfinition de la terre comme "bien commun", capable de faire face aux enjeux mondiaux de l’alimentation pour tous et du changement climatique. 

Intéressant appel à contributions de la revue algérienne Insaniyat sur plusieurs pays et continents. Les paysanneries et les ruralités d’aujourd’hui

17 July 2019, by Omar Bessaoud

Un appel à contributions qui embrasse une aire géographique très vaste, puisqu’il ne concerne pas seulement l’Algérie, mais aussi les pays du Maghreb, ceux du monde arabe, d’Europe et du continent sud-américain. Date limite des propositions concernant d’autres régions que l’Afrique du Nord repoussée à fin septembre.

Nicaragua en crisis frente a un incierto futuro en la gobernanza de la tierra

15 September 2019, by Daniel Chillon-Olmos

Repaso de las principales tendencias de concentración y expansión del agro-negocio en América Central e insumos sobre las posibles consecuencias que la crisis socio-política que vive Nicaragua desde abril del 2018 podría tener sobre esas tendencias.

Un acercamiento a los procesos de transferencias de tierra a gran escala en Centroamérica

14 September 2019, by Pierre Merlet, Elizabeth Espinoza, Carmen Collado-Solis

Un análisis para los países de América Central de los datos proporcionados por la plataforma digital Land Matrix, cuyo objetivo es de monitorear los procesos de inversiones en tierras a gran escala a nivel global.

Soil Carbon Sequestration and Land Systems: links with institutional environment and public policies. Workshop ‘Land Tenure and Development’ Technical Committee and ‘4 for 1000’ Initiative

22 September 2019, by Michel Merlet

The 4‰ initiative should not be limited to a sum of small projects. It has a transcendental character in that it recognizes that soils are a global commons. Exclusive and absolute ownership of soil is not compatible with the recognition of it as a commons, necessary for the survival of humanity. The recognition of the rights of communities is necessary, so that governance systems can be set up at different levels, local, regional, national and global. The 4‰ initiative should contribute to the evaluation of policies, and to move towards binding measures whenever land, natural resources and climate governance are concerned.

Land systems and mechanisms for soil carbon sequestration. Summary Paper # 27 of the ‘Land Tenure and Development’ Technical Committee

22 September 2019, by Alain Karsenty, Jean-Pierre Chauveau, Michel Merlet, Camila Toulmin, Aurore Mansion, Sandrine Vaumourin

This paper develops the themes discussed at a high-level meeting organised by the ‘4 for 1000’ Initiative and French Cooperation ‘Land Tenure and Development’ Technical Committee on 13-14 December 2017 with support from AFD and the World Bank.


El manejo comunitario del bosque por la comunidad indígena Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih (Banten, Indonesia)

30 August 2019, by Diego Laforge

¿Como el manejo consuetudinario del bosque por una comunidad indígena, en conflicto por la tenencia de tierras con diferentes actores desde la colonia holandesa, asegura la sostenibilidad del sistema agrario? Un video de 3 minutos sobre un ejemplo en Indonesia.

The customary management of the forest by Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih indigenous community (Banten, Indonesia)

30 August 2019, by Diego Laforge

How does the customary management of the forest by an indigenous community in Indonesia, in land tenure conflict with successive stakeholders since the Dutch colony, ensure the sustainability of the agrarian system? A 3 minutes video.

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