Institute of Geography and Sustainability of the University of Lausanne
Research projects

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Large-scale land acquisitions and sustainable soil management

Research fields Development, societies, environments
Keywords Institutions
Sustainable development
Development studies
Landed property
Property rights
Real estate market
Soil development
Duration February 2012 - January 2016
Website http://www.nfp68.ch/E/Pages/home.aspx
Researchers Bottazzi Patrick (Scientific collaborator)

Large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) are a relatively recent phenomenon of massive land deals that currently represent about 203 millions of hectares worldwide. LSLAs - also called "land grabbing" in the public debate - mainly originate in developed countries (among them Switzerland) and target land in poor countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Arguments in favour of LSLAs focus mainly on the need to increase investments and technology transfer into agricultural production in order to meet the growing global demand for food, biofuels, and other natural resources used for producing industrial goods such as timber, paper, rubber, textiles, and others. However, research on the effects of LSLAs in the countries where the land is located also point to a large number of critical aspects. Major negative aspects of LSLAs affect small-scale farmers. Case studies have shown that LSLAs can lead to dispossession of land rights, curtailing access to grazing areas, water resources, or forests and affecting livelihood strategies, food security, income levels, and labour conditions, and often increasing already existing social conflicts. The project has the following research and policy objectives: 1) To produce a typology of LSLA modalities considering driving and affected actors, institutions, and agronomic effects, by analysing over 920 land deals documented in the Land Matrix database established by ILC, CDE and other partners. 2) To make complex situations of LSLAs and their impacts on sustainable soil governance understandable, and to assist stakeholders by providing a toolkit based on an adapted and tested concept and methodology for assessing the sustainability of LSLAs. 3) To inform and advance policy debates in both a home state (Switzerland) and a host state by developing innovative policy options for promoting sustainable soil governance in a concrete exemplary case of LSLA.