Large-Scale Acquisitions of Communal Land in the Global South: Assessing the Risks and Formulating Policy Recommendations

January 2024
J. A. Rincón Barajas, C. Kubitza and J. Lay. (Land Use Policy)

This academic article from the open access journal, Land Use Policy, is global in scope but focuses in on evidence from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The article attempts to conceptualise and then empirically assess the socio-economic and environmental risks of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) in the Global South, including the displacement of local communities in areas where customary land rights remain unformalized and/or are otherwise insecure. The authors note the higher levels of risk for already marginalized groups such as pastoralists, forest-dwellers and many women. The authors compare existing spatial data from Colombia, Cambodia and the DRC. Of these, the DRC case is considered the most highly problematic due to an almost total lack of effective safeguards to protect rights to communal land, and because the data suggest that almost 1 million hectares of communal land overlap with existing LSLAs. They conclude with a two-pronged recommendation, for greater compliance with global standards of land policy and good governance, and more effective due diligence of individual LSLAs.