Global Land Grab - comments and links from course student

This is a course assignment post for Module 1, Assignment 3 from Anamaria Rodriguez on Global Land Grab, She has included some useful links.

It is incredible how much information there is about ‘land grabbs’ –
obviously a phenomenon that has been taken place for a while. I have read
several articles and chosen to comment on the following:

Asia leads the charge in Aussie land grab
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/asia-leads-the-charge-i...

A land grabbers loophole
http://www.coha.org/a-land-grabbers-loophole/

The Global Water Grab: A Primer
http://www.stwr.org/land-energy-water/the-global-water-grab-a-primer.html
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It seems that no country is immune to land grabs – no country in the Global South, that is. Apparently the worse cases are in Sub-Sahara Africa and, therefore, they are the best known; but this is happening also in Latin
America and in Australia too.

In Latin America they are waking up to this practice and changing or creating pertinent legislation to restrict it. It is time Australia woke up and did something about it too. For the moment Queensland is the only state that has a register of foreign ownership of land and it seems the Prime Minister has requested an Australia wide audit. That
is a start.

As I understand it, there are three reasons why investors (governments or private corporations) buy land in other countries: for agriculture, for mining, and for water –(it is scary to think that future wars could be not over oil (like the Iraq war) but over water).

There are issues to do with sovereignty, with socio-economics, with ethics and with human rights.

In a way it is understandable that developing countries (not poor, on the contrary, more often than not rich in natural resources) welcome foreign investment – particularly if it comes attached with promises of building
infrastructure like ports, road, even schools and hospitals (like the Chinese are doing in Africa).

But why would Australia allow an Asian country to buy an Australian mine? Worse still, how is it possible that an Australian mining magnate, billionaire Gina Reinhart, becomes the richest person in Australia by selling a mine to a Chinese investor – that is, an Australian citizen selling the natural resources of ‘the people’ to a foreign national - and, on top of it, campaigning against the minute tax she would have to pay on ‘super profits’ from the rest of her mining empire?

Worse than buying land to grow crops to feed the masses is, I would say, buying farmland to mine for mineral resources – which is, apparently, what a Chinese state owned mining company is planning to do in Queensland. That is
obscene and should not be allowed. It should not be allowed to Australian companies either.

A further point that may not seem to have much to do with land grabs but, I believe, is related is something I read many years ago about a European country paying a Latin American country to use land to dump nuclear waste. I
assume it was not farmland transformed in a rubbish tip, and I also assume that there must be many similar cases that we do not know about – after all, there are many countries with nuclear power, therefore with nuclear
waste – and it has to be dumped somewhere. So I guess some developed countries are also buying land in developing countries for this sorrowful purpose. (There is controversy in Australia at the moment about creating a
‘nuclear tip’ in the Northern Territory.)

If we are One-World, and the Earth belongs to all of us, when will we learn to share resources instead of fighting over them? When are we going to get angry enough to stop allowing a minority enrich themselves on the back of the
majority? One of the many things I am learning in this course is that there are very, very many organisations around the world working for equity and social and economic fairness, but there are far too many people who are ignorant of what happens around them – or choose not to know. I guess it will take time to educate the people. I consider myself lucky, I am being
‘educated’.