The bigger the better? The consequences of land investments for land rights, soils and food sovereignty






Forum on Environment and Development
Bread for the World
FIAN Germany

Time: Wednesday, 26. January 2022, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (CET), subsequent deep dive 6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Languages: English, German, Portuguese

First, Michael Fakhri outlined in a video message: large-scale land grabs by investors often lead to the displacement of small-scale farming structures, hunger and the supremacy of an industrial agriculture that endangers the environment and health. He pleaded for multilateral solution processes, such as the VGGT, which are based on consensus-oriented development approaches with local communities and the right to food. Sabine Dorlöchter-Sulser then illustrated that large-scale agriculture in Africa neither closes the yield gap nor delivers on employment promises. Maureen Santos used the example of Brazil to show how the cycle of devastation by pesticides is reinforced as a result of state and international investments in large-scale land grabbing. Johannes Kotschi then drew attention to the increased use of mineral fertilizers as investments in land increase, and the associated negative impacts on soils, the environment and the climate. Drawing on his experiences in Mozambique, Luìs Muchanga emphasized that the model of land expropriation for commodities is not suitable for food security and reported on the positive effects of agroecology. Finally, all panelists agreed on the need to stop these land grabs and to implement concrete transformation strategies to support smallholder producers and to strengthen agroecological approaches at national and international level.


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Josephine Koch is a policy officer for resource policy in the German NGO umbrella organization Forum on Environment and Development. The focus of her work is raw material transparency and resource transition. She is also responsible for the working group for Agriculture and Food within the Forum. She was previously a project coordinator in various socio-ecological organizations and initiatives.

Lena Bassermann has been working with the INKOTA-netzwerk as a senior policy advisor for global food and global agriculture since 2019. Previously, she worked as a policy advisor at Welthungerhilfe and in the German Bundestag / German parliament. Her work focuses on agroecology, just food systems and farmers’ rights.

Video message

Michael Fakhri is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. He is also an Associate Professor at the University of Oregon School of Law.

Panel Guests

Luís Muchanga has been director of the Mozambican farmers’ association União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC) since 2011. Previously, he was responsible for UNAC’s Lobby & Advocacy work. He studied economics in Maputo and considers himself a social activist.

Dr Sabine Dorlöchter-Sulser is a Rural Development Officer at MISEREOR (Africa/Middle East Department), has been working on rural development issues in sub-Saharan Africa for over 30 years, including 10 years in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Thematic areas: agroecology, farmer-led research, farmers’ seed systems, land rights, nutrition, among others.

Johannes Kotschi is an agricultural scientist and advisor in rural development. He advises governmental and non-governmental as well as international organisations. His focus is on issues of sustainable and organic agriculture. Soil fertility management and agrobiodiversity development in the Global South are main areas of expertise. Johannes Kotschi has a PhD in agroecology and organic agriculture, is a founding member of Agrecol, the Association for AgriCulture and Ecology and lives in Marburg, Germany.

Maureen Santos, Coordinator of the National Advisory Group of the Federation of Organizations for Social and Educational Assistance (FASE), is a professor of the International Relations Department at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and a former program coordinator in the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Rio de Janeiro office. She graduated in International Relations and is a master in Political Science from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Maureen Santors monitors the UNFCCC climate negotiations on behalf of Brazilian civil society organizations since 2008, especially, forests and agriculture issues.


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