Publication Globalization - Socio-ecological Transformation - Food Sovereignty Land Squeeze

What is driving unprecedented pressures on farmland and what can be done to achieve equitable access to land?





IPES-Food, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung,


May 2024

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Soaring land prices, landgrabs, and carbon schemes are creating an unprecedented “land squeeze”, threatening farmers and food production, reveals a comprehensive report by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) that was produced with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

The study exposes the alarming escalation of landgrabbing in various forms, including through “green grabs”, opaque financial instruments and speculation, rapid resource extraction, and intensive export crop production. Land measuring around twice the size of Germany has been snatched up in transnational deals worldwide since the year 2000.

As the report highlights, major new pressures are emerging from “green grabs” for carbon and biodiversity offset projects, conservation initiatives, and clean fuels. Huge swathes of farmland are being acquired by governments and corporations for these “green grabs” — which now account for 20 percent of large-scale land deals. Governments’ pledges for land-based carbon removals alone add up to almost 1.2 billion hectares, equivalent to total global cropland. Carbon offset markets are expected to quadruple in the next seven years.

This global trend of landgrabs and “green grabs” is particularly affecting sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, while land inequality is growing fastest in Central Eastern Europe, North and Latin America, and South Asia. Shockingly, 70 percent of the world’s farmland is now controlled by just 1 percent of the world’s largest farms.

As demand for land continues unchecked, current development are inflaming land inequality and making small- and medium-scale food production increasingly unviable – leading to farmer revolts, rural exodus, rural poverty and food insecurity. With global farmland prices doubling in 15 years, farmers, peasants, and Indigenous peoples are losing their land (or forced to downsize), while young farmers face significant barriers in accessing land to farm.

The new study Land Squeeze identifies transformative actions needed to achieve meaningful and equitable access to land, including putting community-led responses at the heart of climate and biodiversity policies, cracking down on dubious carbon offsets and land speculation, getting land back into the hands of farmers through innovative financing and ownership models, and delivering a new deal for farmers and rural areas, accompanied by a new generation of comprehensive land and agrarian reforms.

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