NGO Another Way (Stichting Bakens Verzet), 1018 AM Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Edition 08: 19  April, 2011.

Edition 50 : 03 December, 2014.


01. E-course: Diploma in Integrated Development (Dip. Int. Dev.)


Quarter 1.




Study value : 04 points out of 18.

Indicative study time: 112 hours out of 504.


Study points are awarded only after the consolidated exam for Section A : Development Problems has been passed.



First block : Poverty and quality of life.


Study value : 02 points out of 18.

Indicative study time: 57 hours out of 504.


Study points are awarded only after the consolidated exam for Section A : Development Problems has been passed.



First Block : Poverty and quality of life.


First Block : Section 1. Analysis of the causes of poverty. [26.50 hours]

First Block : Section 2. Services needed for a good quality of life.

First Block : Exam. [ 4 hours each attempt]


Block 1 of Section 1. Analysis of the causes of poverty. [26.50 hours]


Part 2 : In depth analysis of the causes of poverty. [14.00 hours]


01. In depth : definition of poverty.

02. In depth : some factors linked with poverty.

03. In depth : debts and subsidies.

04. In depth : financial leakages : food and water industries.

05. In depth : financial leakage : energy.

06. In depth : financial leakage : means of communication.

07. In depth : financial leakage : health and education.

08. In depth : financial leakage : theft of resources.

09. In depth : financial leakage : corruption.

10. In depth : the industry of poverty.


Report on Section 1 of Block 1 : [06.00 Hours]



Part 2 : In depth analysis of the causes of poverty. [14.00 hours]


08. In depth : Financial leakage : theft of resources. (At least one hour)


“Poverty is created scarcity”

(Wahu Kaara, point 8 of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, 58th annual NGO Conference, United Nations, New York 7 September 2005.)


“The global system of production of wealth and its distribution is characterised by kleptocracy, primitive accumulation and dispossession. Economists call it ‘rent seeking’, and they justify this with the argument that ‘surplus’ from the rural and agricultural areas is needed in order for Africa to grow and industrialise; that this is how they did it in the West…..Globalised capital (the so-called ‘foreign direct investments’ or FDIs) and its several manifestations – banks, insurance companies, shipping agents, commodity speculators, wholesale traders, chain retailers, etc – are in league with the local economic and power elites in the ‘recipient’ countries, and their god is ‘accumulate, accumulate and accumulate…..The fundamental reality of Africa is that it is integrated into a global system of kleptocratic capitalism characterised by primitive accumulation or ‘rent seeking’ by the rich nations and within each nation by the rich power elite.’  (Y.Tandon, Kleptocratic Capitalism : Challenges of the green economy for Sustainable Africa, Pambazuka News, Fahamy – Networks for Social Justice, Nairobi, 30 June, 2011.)


An excellent short introduction to this subject is provided by Paul Buchheit in his article Five Poisons of Privatisation   published by Commons Dreams, Portland (Maine), on 11 March, 2013. The article refers in particular to the United States but its content is applicable world-wide.


“Economic reforms based on the idea of limitless growth in a limited world, can only be maintained by the powerful grabbing the resources of the vulnerable. The resource grab that is essential for “growth” creates a culture of rape—the rape of the earth, of local self-reliant economies, and of women. The only way in which this “growth” is “inclusive” is by its inclusion of ever larger numbers in its circle of violence…..An economics unleashed by economic liberalization—an economics of deregulation of commerce, of privatization and commodification of seeds and food, land and water, women and children—degrades social values, deepens patriarchy, and intensifies violence against women.” (V. Shiva, Our violent economy is hurting women, Yes ! Magazine, Positive Futures Network, Bainbridge Island, January 18, 2013.)


“Increasing scarcity of resources like land and water mean that assets being monopolised by the few cannot continue if we are to have a sustainable future. Poverty reduction in the face of extreme wealth will become harder as resources become more scarce. More equal societies are better able to cope with disasters and extreme weather events.” (The cost of inequality :  how wealth and income extremes hurt us all, Oxfam Media Briefing 02/2012, London, January 2013.)


La Via Campesina, the international peasants movement, representing more than 200 million small farmers around the world, denounces the utilization of the [Doha, 2012] climate negotiations to legitimize the continuation of business as usual at the expense of humanity and the planet. The inaction in the climate negotiations is a reflection of the corporate capture of governments by big business who want to continue exploiting nature to gain as much profit as possible.” (Governments produce blank pages in Doha for planet’s future; la Via Campesina farmers are cooling the planet,  La Via Campesina Organisation, Press Release, Jakarta, 07 December, 2012.)


“….. by underpricing the raw materials we use today, by ignoring or under-valuing many of the economic externalities, we have been drawing down on future growth. Because modern economics has underplayed the costs of environmental degradation and the fact that our grandchildren will pay more in real terms for many of the depleted raw materials than us, we have penalised future generations and the planet to have the consumption-driven engine running faster now, breaking one of the ground rules of classical economics in the process.” G. Maxton, We’re all economists now…just don’t expect difficult questions, World Economics Association Newsletter, Vol. 2, Issue 5, October, 2012, p. 10).


“The logic of destruction [ by multinationals under the mantel of “the Green Economy”] is part of a larger logic of scarcity, the foundational premise of the capitalist economy, which consists of transforming scarce goods uncontrolled by the market into commodities. Everything is evaluated by the scarcity of goods. The scarcer the goods, the more willing we will be to pay for them. If we are presented with a total lack, we no longer speak of the likelihood of having to pay, but rather of the obligation to do so. If everyone who needed a piece of the earth to farm or to live had access to it, no one would need to buy or rent land. The earth becomes a commodity when whole populations are evicted from it, either by means of fencing it off, or by concessions, land grabbing, agricultural exploitation, etc. If we could produce our own food, no one would pay for it. If we all had access to water, no one would consider themselves obliged to pay for it. Economic transactions become possible when people congregate in cities, water sources reduce, dry up, or become contaminated, (or when they simply appear to be contaminated, for instance, in order to sell water in bottles), or when we construct dams everywhere.


“Programmed destruction is simply a way to create scarcity. It’s nothing new and it goes well beyond the Green Economy. In order for the salaried workforce to be lucrative, capitalism had to destroy ways of living that offered alternative social systems across the entire world. It did so by playing the ‘modernity’ card and even by having recourse to the bullets of imperial wars. To transform seeds into a big commercial enterprise, we have encouraged the destruction of traditional systems of caring for, improving, saving, exchanging and producing seeds, destroying the ability of thousands of rural men and women to produce their own seeds. This destruction continues even today. There is no other way to explain the absurdity of banning the sale and exchange of local seeds in Europe and its imposition across the world through intellectual property laws.” ( Behind the “Green Economy” : Profiting from environmental and climate crisis, GRAIN, Allianza Biodiversidad, WRM, ATALC, ( website, Barcelona, 11 September, 2012.)


Philippe Diaz’ s  film “The End of Poverty” (Cinema Libre Studio, Canoga Park, 2009) provides a good introduction to the theft of resources. The director discusses his film in On the film The End of Poverty, (website of, 10 November, 2009.) The discussion includes a reference by  Susan George to the flow of US$  25.000 a minute (US$ 13.14 billion a year) from sub-Saharan Africa to the North.


“…producers and consumers of oil , coal and natural gas use the sky commons as an open sewer. Every day, industry disposes 90 million tons of waste products into our shared atmosphere at no cost.”

Quilligan, J.B. , Interest Rates and Climate change : Realigning our Incentives through the Power of the Commons, Kosmos, Vol. X, Number 1, Fall/winter 2010, p. 25,  Kosmos Associates, Lenox, 2010.)


“The engine of perpetual growth is creating excess production in some places, poverty and migration in others, and energy insecurity and ecological degradation everywhere- all of which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions”  (Quilligan, above, p.28).


“The global commons are not being exploited merely because nature’s services are underpriced in the market, but because they are being propertized, commodified, subsidized and subjected to interest-bearing debt.” (Quilligan, above, p.27).


As Quilligan puts it  (p. 27), this is  “Robbing assets from the future and selling them in the present”.


And Vandana Shiva writes :


“Our collective will and actions will determine whether corporations will be successful in privatising the last drop of water, the last blade of grass, the last acre of land, the last seed, or whether our movements will be able to defend life on earth, including human life in its rich diversity, abundance and freedom.” (Rio + 20 : An undesirable U-Turn, Commons Dreams, Portland, 03 July, 2012.)


Look at the following slide :


08. Financial leakage: theft of resources.


1. Research.


Make a list of your country’s laws on the exploitation of  finite natural resources.


2. Opinion.


How are the interests of the local populations protected in the laws ?


«We hold the land on trust for future generations »


3. Opinion.


What do you think about this concept?

Which  consequences does it bring with it ?


Finite natural resources.


Read the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples passed during the 61st session of the United Nations Assembly, Resolution 61/295, New York, 13 September 2007.


Some countries already had constitutional provisions protecting the rights of local populations. For instance :


Articles 119-126 of the constitution of Venezuela expressly protect the rights of indigenous peoples in respect of natural resources.


Article 120 provides:


«Exploitation by the State of the natural resources in indigenous habitats shall be carried out without harming the cultural, social and economic integrity of such habitats, and likewise subject to prior information and consultation with the indigenous communities concerned. Profits from such exploitation by the indigenous peoples are subject to the Constitution and the law.”


4. Opinion.


Article 120 excludes exploitation by private operators. Why?</a

Do you agree with the view expressed in the slide that finite natural resources are of national interest?

Do you agree with the view expressed in the slide that local populations have a right to part of the revenues deriving from the sale of finite natural resources ? If you think they do have such a right, to which part ?


Read Women Raise their Voices Against Tree Plantations : The Role of the European Women in Disempowering Women in the South, Friends of the Earth and others, Washington, March 2009.


“…the three studies show that the plantations being promoted (rubber trees, wood for pulp and oil palms) were in no way designed to meet the needs of the communities. On the contrary, they were designed on the basis of an agro-export model geared to the countries of the North – and the European Union specifically in the cases studied – in order to promote excessive consumption, made possible thanks to a series of policies that benefit big corporations.” (p.31).


5. Research.


At this time, which part of revenues from the sale of local finite resources in your chosen area is invested locally?

How much money is involved ?

Which form do the investments take ?


Theft of water and green-washing.


Theft of land, discussed in detail below, is directly related to theft of water.


“I expect to see a globally integrated market for fresh water within 25 to 30 years. Once the spot markets for water are integrated, futures markets and other derivative water-based financial instruments — puts, calls, swaps — both exchange-traded and OTC will follow. There will be different grades and types of fresh water, just the way we have light sweet and heavy sour crude oil today. Water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals.” ( W.Buiter of Citi Corp, as reported in Citi’s Willerm Buiter sees Large Potential for Water Investments, (HistorySquared Blog,,21 July, 2011.) The article has a list of the 12 largest companies in the field.


“The per capita volume of grabbed water often exceeds the water requirements for a balanced diet and would be sufficient to improve food security and abate malnourishment in the grabbed countries.” (Rulli M.C. et al, Global land and water grabbing, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), Washington, January 2013, abstract.). The paper suggests the grabbed areas can be a large part of a country’s surface area. For  example, 20% in Uruguay, 17% in the Philippines, and 7% in Serra Leone.


“The areas where land grabbing is concentrated in Africa [and] coincide closely with the continent's largest river and lake systems, and in most of these areas irrigation is a prerequisite of commercial production.” (Squeezing Africa Dry : Behind every land grab is a water grab, GRAIN, Barcelona, 12 June, 2012, p. 12.) This reference also provides information on the effects of unsustainable irrigation and groundwater use, sometimes involving mineral water deposits which cannot be replenished. Examples are the Indus Basin, the Aral Sea, the Nile river basin, and the Niger basin.


Some products need a lot of water. It takes 15,500 litres of water to grow one kilo of meat, 20.000 litres of water for a kilo of coffee, 1.000 litres for a kilo of wheat. (Water Footprint Net, at the University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands).


The on-line magazine Water Alternatives Journal, Volume 5, Issue 2, June 2012 published by  contains 15 articles dedicated to the issue of water-grabbing. This is currently the major source of information on the subject.


Individual articles include :


Mehta, L. and others : Watergrabbing? Focus on the (re)appropriation of finite water resources. (pp. 193-207).


“Water grabbing is a particular form of accumulation by dispossession under neo-liberalisation leading to the commodification and privatisation of resources, the eviction of certain groups and the conversion of various forms of property rights into exclusive private property rights…[leading to] …the financialisation of the resource itself whereby water is transformed as a commodity tradable on large-scale global markets through water trading schemes.” (p. 198).


“Census data often do not capture non-monetised goods and services that sustain millions.” (p.200)


Woodhouse, P. : Foreign Agricultural Land Acquisition and the Visibility of Water Resource Impacts in Sub-Saharan Africa. (pp. 208-222).


Williams, T.O. and others : Water Implications of Large-scale Land Acquisitions in Ghana. (pp. 243-265).


“Apparent neglect [ to consider the multiple uses and users of water in the land deals] were shown to include a land acquisition process devoid of involvement of regulatory agencies, land transaction practices that reflect power and information asymmetries between investors and traditional councils, on the one hand, and between the traditional councils and their subjects, on the other, as well as fuzziness in the statutes of the statutory agency, the Lands Commission, that is charged with the responsibility of approving land acquisition deals.” (p. 258).


Houdret, A. The water connection :  Irrigation, water-grabbing and politics in southern Morocco. (pp. 284-303).


“The initiative [analysed] is promoted as a technical, financial and managerial innovation by local and international actors but is, in fact, no more than a new form of political control over the allocation of natural resources and related profits.” (p. 299).


Sosa, M, Zwarteveen, M.:   Exploring the politics of water-grabbing : The case of large mining operations in the Peruvian Andes. (pp. 360-375).


“Changes in how water is used “involve long-winding, fuzzy and opaque processes of negotiation and sometimes struggle on a playing field that is far from level, with the political and financial powers of mining companies far outweighing those of the local peasant and indigenous communities. The net effect nevertheless is a thorough reconfiguration of water governance, with the mining company controlling water in the region and local communities being effectively dispossessed by losing their water rights…..these shifts in water use and tenure relations imply an irreversible transfer over the control of water from local communities and government agencies to a large and wealthy private transnational corporation….the impacts of these changes in water use and control are potentially devastating for local livelihoods and for future water availability. Water previously used for irrigating pastures and growing subsistence crops is now increasingly used for producing gold for export, an activity the local gains of which are likely to be short-lived,.”(p. 372)


Islar, M. :  Privatised hydropower development in Turkey :  A case of water-grabbing? (pp. 376-391).


The recent privatised hydropower development in Turkey “represents an act of dispossession, by changing the regimes of entitlements to the use and access to rivers...  new alliances between state and climate change community and the involvement of transnational companies imply "a more diffuse, opaque form of governance, with important political and technical consequences, namely a loss of transparency and accountability, and an incomplete assessment of the future economic returns and the environmental and social impacts of proposed projects…..the modern idea of water as objective, homogenous, ahistorical and 'devoid of cultural content' is complemented by its physical containment and isolation from people."


Wagle, S. and others : Exploiting policy obscurity for legalising water grabbing in the era of economic reform : The case of Maharashtra, India. (pp. 412-430)


“…the current conflicts around water resources have emerged due to the following three phenomena which are rooted in the economic and sectoral reform: a) the uncritical acceptance of a pro-industry, pro-market as well as anti-agricultural and anti-farmer bias and policy prescriptions by a large section of society; b) the increasing demands for water (and other resources such as land and minerals) by metropolitan centres, big industries and power plants; c) the new nexus of powerful interests driving the political economy of the water sector in industrialised Indian states…” (p. 428)


Vélez Torres, I. : Water Grabbing in the Cauca Basin : The Capitalist Exploitation of Water and Dispossession of Afro-Descendent Communities. (pp. 431-449)


“’s dispossession – characterised by privatisations and the global market – derives from trends of exclusion in which ethnicised and racialised water and land grabbing have historically shaped a particular form of environmental racism in the Alto Cauca. This discriminatory action has been in favour of the property interests of political and economic elites, both national (represented by hacendados and industrialists) and international (represented by various multinationals) ……communities have faced numerous life threats for having opposed the elitist development model, and they have defended their access to and traditional use of the Cauca river. Despite their protests, however, the silent complicity of the majority of the state’s institutions has meant that the local population has had to migrate to protect themselves and to seek new ways to subsist, or else remain in their traditional territory under blatant threat.” (p.446)


Water-grabbing can also take on even more direct forms. The largest water-bottling company in the world is Nestlé. On Nestlé’s water-bottling activities see: Barlow, M. Challenging Nestlé in Switzerland, The Council of Canadians, blog item, Ottawa,  21 September, 2012.


Water-grabbing is not limited to poor countries.


“In areas ranging from the Ogallala aquifer to the Great Lakes in North America, water has been referred to as liquid gold. Billionaires such as T. Boone Pickens have been buying up land overlying the Ogallala aquifer, acquiring water rights; companies such as Dow Chemicals, with a long history of water pollution, are investing in the business of water purification , making pollution itself a cash-cow.” (S. Varghese, Water grabbing to follow food speculation? Where are the checks and balances?, Think Forward Blog of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), Minneapolis and Washington, 18 January, 2013.)




"Aid is not charity. It is an investment in a strong America and in a free world.” ( U.S. Foreign Secretary John Kerry,Speech University of Virginia, 20 February, 2013, reported by Ashad Mohammed of Reuters, Washington, 20 February, 2013.)


Read D .Hoorn, Understanding Food Security and Land grabs, Devex News, Washington, 05 September, 2013. 


Read the manifesto Stop land grabbing now! (, Barcelona, April 2010.), which  is co-sponsored by more than 120 organisations world-wide. See also GRAIN’s  Data base of land grabs , Barcelona, 23 February, 2012. 


“When you take food from a village by destroying farm lands and cash crops, you are starving its people. If you destroy their grave sites, poison their drinking water, obliterate their cultural heritage, divert their rivers, streams and creeks, there is no doubt you are removing an ethnically defined population from their land.” (Alfred Brownell of Liberia’s Green Advocates, cited in Studies Suggest Weak Land Rights Worldwide Promote Land Rush , (Rights and Resources, Washington, Press Release 1 February, 2012.)


“Today's farmland grabs are moving fast. Contracts are getting signed, bulldozers are hitting the ground, land is being aggressively fenced off and local people are getting kicked off their territories with devastating consequences. While precise details are hard to come by, it is clear that at least 50 million hectares of good agricultural land – enough to feed 50 million families in India – have been transferred from farmers to corporations in the last few years alone, and each day more investors join the rush. Some of these deals are presented as a novel way to meet food security needs of countries dependent on external markets to feed themselves, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea or China. Others are bluntly exposed for what they really are: business deals and hot new profit opportunities. Despite the involvement of states, most of these transactions are between host governments and private corporations. Firms involved estimate that US$ 25 billion have already been committed globally, and boast that this figure will triple in a very near future.” It’s time to outlaw landgrabbing, not to make it “responsible” , GRAIN, Barcelona (Spain) and Los Baños (Philippines), 17 April, 2011. (p. 1)


“Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment that Respect Rights, Livelihoods and Resources is out of step with the times. The whole approach to so-called agricultural development that it embodies – a greenhouse gas pumping, fossil fuel guzzling, biodiversity depleting, water privatising, soil eroding, community impoverishing, genetically modified seed dependent production system – belongs in the 20th century rubbish heap of destructive, unsustainable development. Just as our Arab sisters and brothers have been breaking the shackles of old regimes to recover their dignity and space for self-determination, we need to break the shackles of the corporate agriculture and food system. “It’s time to outlaw landgrabbing, not to make it “responsible”. , GRAIN, Barcelona (Spain) and Los Baños (Philippines), as above,  (p. 5)


Practices go so far they place land-grabbing contracts outside the reach of national laws.


“The terms of the convention grant the company [ Herakles Farms in the Cameroon, linked to Herakles Capital, linked in turn to the New York private equity giant Blackstone ] extraordinary privileges, partially exempting it from complying with national law, and stating that in the event of any conflict between the convention and national law – with the exception of the Constitution – the convention will prevail. The terms of the convention would effectively carve out a zone of legal extraterritoriality for the company, and supersede national law.” ( Palm Oil’s New Frontier.   Greenpeace International, Amsterdam, October 2012, p. 14.)


Anseeuw W. et al, in Land Rights and the Rush for Land : Findings of the Global Commercial Pressures on Land Research Project , International Land Coalition (ILC), Rome, January, 2012. ISBN 978-92-95093-75-1 make the following comments :


At p. 34,


“Despite the rhetoric of targeting marginal lands, acquirers are most interested in lands that are fertile, easily accessed by roads, or rail, and with electricity transmission, market centres, habitation (helpful for employing people) and export servicing centres nearby. These are areas that are likely to be already used relatively intensively by local people, and not just for farming.”


At p. 35,


“The land that forms the prime focus of large-scale acquisition is not land under permanent cultivation, but unfarmed forests, grasslands, and marshlands held and used as commercial assets by communities.”


“The purported benefits of land acquisition have generally so far not lived up to expectations; either for local populations or host governments. At the moment, poor, resource-dependent communities, the majority in most affected countries, disproportionately bear the costs.”


For a one-page review  of the status of land grabbing activities see :  Land Grabs in Poor Countries Set to Increase   by Hilaire Avril , Inter Press Service, Rome, September 09, 2010.


Read the article by Vidal J. How food and water are driving a 21st century African  land grab. (The Observer, London, Sunday 7 March, 2010).


Read Odeny E. et al (eds), Landgrabbing in Kenya and Mozambique , Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN), Heidelberg, April 2010


Read the article by Olivier de Schutter, then the UN Special Reporter on the right to food, Responsibly Destroying the World’s Peasantry. (Project Syndicate ,, 2010).


Read the article Africa up for grabs : the scale and impact of land grabbing for agrofuels , edited by H.Burley and A.Bebb, Friends of the Earth, Brussels, June 2010.


“There are over 2,500 bilateral investment treaties (BITs), which protect investors from changes to host government policy and which may be impairing the ability of countries to regulate investments effectively. The opportunity for investors to challenge public policy through arbitration procedures under these BITs weakens developing countries’ capacity to regulate their food, land, and water sectors, as well as to introduce policies that promote food security and poverty reduction.” B., Land and Power : The growing scandal surrounding the new wave of investments in land , Oxfam Briefing Paper 151, Oxfam, Oxford, 22 September, 2011, ISBN 978-1-84814-947-2, p. 38.)  This Oxfam document is a well-referenced denunciation of land-grabbing practices.


A short overview of land grabbing (with maps) in Africa is available at Bwa Mwesigire, B., Land Grabbing in Africa, the new colonialism , This is Africa (TIA), Cape Town, 28 May, 2014.


More details of land-grabbing in Africa are available at the website of the Oakland Institute.  A good example of the material there is the report Eight myths and facts about Agrisol Energy in Tanzania  : Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa, Land Deal Brief, Oakland Institute, Oakland, December 2011. Another report by the same organisation is J. Ward’s  Surrendering our Future : Senhuile-Senéthanol Plantation Destroys Local Communities and Jeopardizes Environment. (The Oakland Institute, Oakland, February 2014.)


Over the planned eviction of 40.000 Masai from their homeland in Tanzania, see Smith, D. Tanzania accused of backtracking over sale of Masai’s ancestral land, The Guardian, London, 16 November, 2014. Some 1500 km2  of Masai land  in Loliondo is to be taken for a “wildlife corridor” bordering the Serengeti national park that would serve a commercial trophy hunting and luxury safari company linked with the Royal family of Dubai.


For information on how the largest family company in the United States, Cargill, through its subsidiary Black River to set up 36 shell companies all with the same address and three staff, managed to buy up 52.000 hectares of land destined for decentralisation of land ownership in Colombia see Divide and Purchase : How Land Ownership is being Concentrated in Colombia , (Oxfam Research Paper, Oxfam. Oxford, September 2013). All of the production is for export and involves the use of genetically modified seeds and aerial spraying of crops.


Land-grabbing by extractive industries is described in Sibaud P, Opening Pandora’s Box : The New Wave of Landgrabbing by the Extractive Industries and the Devastating Impact on Earth ,  Gaia Foundation, London, 2012.


On the role played by the World Bank in land grabbing see : Geary, K. Our Land, Our Lives : Time out on the global land rush , Oxfam Briefing Note, Oxfam International, Oxford, October 2012. ISBN 978-167077-180-9.


Green grabbing.


Green grabbing is land grabbing in the name of “saving the environment”. It involves the privatisation and commodification world-wide of the natural commons with the claim that private ownership and control of them is more efficient than public management. Green-grabbing is taking place in industrialised countries too, but it has taken on particularly vicious forms in developing countries. 


A good introduction to this is Vidal. J, The Great Green Land Grab , The Guardian, London, 13 February, 2008. Vidal writes:


“Tens of thousands of people have been evicted in order to establish wildlife parks and other protected areas throughout the developing world. Many people have been forbidden to hunt, cut trees, quarry stone, introduce new plants or in any way threaten the animals or the ecosystem. The land they have lived on for centuries is suddenly recast as an idyllic wildlife sanctuary, with no regard for the realities of the lives of those who live there……… And conservation could now be about to get even bigger still, exerting more control over local communities than traditional colonialists ever did. Because forests lock up nearly one eighth of all the world's carbon, US hedge funds, financiers, governments, the world bank, private companies and many conservation charities see the chance to make potentially enormous amounts of money by stopping trees being felled.”


The situation has worsened since Vidal wrote his article in 2008.


Yet another form of land-grabbing takes place in the context of the tourist industry. Here, territories, sometimes quite large, are taken as park or reserve for tourism purposes. The local people are expelled from their land and their food and water resources. While some of them may get jobs in lodges and hotels, usually at low wages, most of the operating profits are expatriated.  The local people are left to buy whatever food they can at market prices.


Sixteen (16) articles on various aspects of green-grabbing are available in the special edition Vol. 39 issue 2, 2012 of the Journal of Peasant Studies, Taylor and Francis Group. This particular edition can be accessed free of charge by registering with Taylor and Francis.


Blue-grabbing and ocean-grabbing.


This is comparable with green-grabbing but involves coastal environments and marine reserves.


“[Ocean-grabbing is]a major process of enclosure of the world’s oceans and fisheries resources, including marine, coastal and inland fisheries. Ocean grabbing is occurring mainly through policies, laws, and practices that are (re)defining and (re)allocating access, use and control of fisheries resources away from small-scale fishers and their communities, and often with little concern for the adverse environmental consequences. Existing customary and communal fisheries’ tenure rights systems and use and management practices are being ignored and ultimately lost in the process. Ocean grabbing thus means the capturing of control by powerful economic actors of crucial decision-making around fisheries, including the power to decide how and for what purposes marine resources are used, conserved and managed now and in the future. As a result, these powerful actors, whose main concern is making profit, are steadily gaining control of both the fisheries’ resources and the benefits of their use……Ocean grabbing is not only about fisheries policy. It is unfolding worldwide across an array of contexts including marine and coastal seawaters, inland waters, rivers and lakes, deltas and wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs. The means by which fishing communities are dispossessed of the resources upon which they have traditionally depended is likewise taking many shapes and forms. It occurs through mechanisms as diverse as (inter)national fisheries governance and trade and investment policies, designated terrestrial, coastal and marine ‘no-take’ conservation areas, (eco)tourism and energy policies, finance speculation, and the expanding operations of the global food and fish industry, including large-scale aquaculture, among others. Meanwhile, ocean grabbing is entering a dramatically new and heightened phase with the emergence in 2012 of the Global Partnership for Oceans, a World Bank-led initiative seeking the privatisation of property rights regimes to aquatic resources and top-down market-based conservation blueprints. ” (Transnational Institute, the  (TNI) Agrarian Justice Programme and others, The Global Ocean Grab , The Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, September, 2014, pp. 3-4).


“The Mafia Island Marine Park [ in Tanzania] covers an area of 822 square kilometres, and it is the biggest marine park in the Indian Ocean. The park encompasses 10 villages inhabited by approximately 18,000 residents of whom 45–65 percent rely heavily on marine resources for their livelihoods (Bryceson et al. 2006). Firstly, the park declared ‘core zones’ of coral reefs, mangroves and coastal forests where fisherfolk and inhabitants are not allowed to venture or to access resources at all, despite these areas being the richest traditional fishing grounds, whilst tourists, hotel businesses and researchers are allowed to visit, dive, snorkel and conduct research there….. The state-owned lodge was subsequently privatised, and has since been owned and managed by foreign investors, with their clientele being almost entirely foreign tourists ….. Capital is accumulated based on three principal processes of dispossession. First, rent-seeking state officials and politicians may benefit directly from the fees collected by the state or they may own tourist companies that manage to capture the increased ground rent created through conservation: this is clearly the case in the wildlife sector. Second, big transnational conservation organizations accumulate large sums of money from ‘development assistance’ donors and private fund-raising through the presentation of ‘successful’ conservation following the win-win discourse. Third, commercial tourism operators may also profit from processes of dispossession, although there are widely different approaches in relating to communities among the various tourism investors..” ( Benjaminsen, A, Bryceson, I., Conservation, green/blue grabbing and accumulation by dispossession in Tanzania, Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 39, issue 2, Taylor and Francis, 19 April, 2012, pp.346, 348 and 351, restricted free access as set out above. )


6. Opinion.


Do you agree with the view expressed in the slide that renewable natural resources belong to the local populations?

Do you agree with the view expressed in the slide that local populations have the right to 100% of the income from the sale of renewable natural resources from their area?


Read the agreement reached between the European Union and Senegal on fishing rights off the coast of Senegal . Fishing rights “purchased” by European countries have led to the end of the traditional activities of fishing villages on the Atlantic coast of West Africa.


The case of fishing rights in lake Victoria is another well-known example. “These days, you sometimes go out there and come back empty-handed." (Charles Kyaba, fisherman, Uganda 01/08/2008, Lake Victoria degradation threatening livelihood , IRIN Africa News, 01 August, 2008.  


Eirik G.Jansen describes in Rich Fisheries - Poor Fisherfolk: The Effects of Trade and Aid in the Lake Victoria Fisheries, (Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo, WP 7-1996, 1996) the move from local fishing in Lake Victoria without external intervention or investment to fully industrialised activities dominated by national and international capital. Thirty-five national and trans-national enterprises were operative around lake Victoria in 1996 treating and exporting most of the Lake Victoria fish to Europe, Japan, and the United States.


"It is no exaggeration to characterize these forerunners [the East India Company chartered in 1600 and the Dutch East India Company, chartered in 1602 – note Bakens Verzet) ] of contemporary publicly traded limited liability corporations as, in effect, legally sanctioned and protected crime syndicates with private armies and navies backed by a mandate from their home governments to extort tribute, expropriate land and other wealth, monopolize markets, trade slaves, deal drugs, and profit from financial scams." ( Korten D,  On the Origin of Corporations, YES ! Magazine, March 07, 2011)


“Chinese fishing boats catch about US$11.5 billion worth of fish from beyond their country’s own waters each year – and most of it goes unreported, according to a new study led by fisheries scientists at the University of British Columbia…..The paper, recently published in the journal Fish and Fisheries, estimates that China’s foreign catch is 12 times larger than the catch it reports to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, an international agency that keeps track of global fisheries catches…..Using a new method that analyzes the type of fishing vessels used by Chinese operators around the world and their catch capacity, the UBC-led research team estimates Chinese foreign fishing at 4.6 million tonnes per year, taken from the waters of at least 90 countries – including 3.1 million tonnes from African waters, mainly West Africa. (Chinese foreign fisheries catch 12 times more than reported : UBC Research , University of British Columbia (UBC), Public Affairs, Media Release, Vancouver, 03 April 2013.)  See the map showing where the Chinese fish and the estimated catches in each area . The Fish and Fisheries Journal is controlled by the multinational John Wiley  and Sons, which charges heavy fees to download the original research paper. The researchers’ conclusions and the method they used have been questioned by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) as the conclusions ridicule official statistics on world fishing published by the F.A.O. In West African waters the Chinese appear to have replaced European fishers. Agreements between Chinese and West African governments regulating  fishing rights have been kept secret. One of the direct consequences is there is little fish left over for local fishermen. Most of the Chinese catch is exported to China.   


“The concept of the “freedom of the high seas” guaranteed in the Convention [ the 1982 United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS)]… is now driving a relentless “tragedy of the commons” characterised by the depletion of fish stock and other precious marine resources. The freedom is being exploited by those with the money and ability to do so, with little sense of responsibility or social justice. What regulations do exist rely heavily on the implementation of measures by States that have agreed to them, but do not apply to those who have not; and there is very little capacity for enforcement or for applying sanctions when infringements occur.” (From Decline to Recovery : A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean , Global Ocean Commission, Oxford, June 2014, p. 6 ).


The Global Ocean Commission report describes the hopeless inadequacy of the UNCLOS Convention and the five main problems causing ocean decline, and makes eight proposals to solve them.


Yet another typical example of theft of natural resources is the ivory trade.


“A single elephant yields 10kg of ivory worth approximately $30,000; a conservative estimate is that 23,000 elephants were killed in 2013. With the true figure likely much higher, the ivory trade could be worth as much as a billion dollars annually, and will likely increase with the escalating retail price of ivory…..ivory is bush currency for militants, militias, and terrorists, and one of the most valuable pieces of illicit contraband for organized criminals and corrupt elites.” (Vita V., Ewing T., Ivory’s Curse : The Militarization and Professionalization of Poaching in Africa , Born Free USA with C4ADS, Washington, April 2014, Executive summary.)  On this subject see also : T. Milliken, Illegal Trade in Ivory and Rhino Horn: an Assessment Report to Improve Law Enforcement Under the Wildlife TRAPS Project, Traffic International (with USAID), Cambridge, 2014. ISBN 978-1-85850-373-8.


For a “photograph” of the role played by the internet in the illicit trade in wild animals, see the report Wanted – Dead or Alive : Exposing Online Wildlife Trade,  International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), London, December, 2014.



   First block : Poverty and quality of life.


Index : Diploma in Integrated Development  (Dip.Int.Dev)

 List of key words.

 List of references.