The Highest Bidder Takes It All: The World Bank’s Scheme to Privatize the Commons

January 2019
The Oakland Institute

In advance of the release of the World Bank’s 2019 Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) report, the Oakland Institute exposes the Bank’s new scheme to privatize land in the developing world. It details how the Bank’s prescribed reforms, via a new land indicator in the EBA project, promotes large-scale land acquisitions and the expansion of agribusinesses in the developing world. Initiated as a pilot in 38 countries in 2017, the land indicator is expected to be expanded to 80 countries in 2019. The project is funded by the US and UK governments and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The EBA’s main recommendations to governments include formalizing private property rights, easing the sale and lease of land for commercial use, systematizing the sale of public land by auction to the highest bidder, and improving procedures for expropriation. Countries are scored on how well they implement the Bank’s policy advice. The scores then help determine the volume of aid money and foreign investment they receive.