Global Land Grabbing and Business Ethics

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3/17/2013
3/17/2013
By: Carl Acolatse
IMBA 2013, NYENRODE BUSINESS UNIVERSITEIT, 2013
By: Carl Acolatse
IMBA 2013, NYENRODE BUSINESS UNIVERSITEIT, 2013

B-03 Business Ethics Individual Assignment

An analysis of Global Land Grabbing from a Business Ethics perspective

For: Prof. Dr Ronald Jeurissen
B-03 Business Ethics Individual Assignment

An analysis of Global Land Grabbing from a Business Ethics perspective

For: Prof. Dr Ronald Jeurissen

INTRODUCTION
This paper seeks to throw some light on the alarming yet largely unknown phenomenon of global land grabbing, in which wealthy nations and foreign multinationals purchase vast tracts of land in poor developing countries for almost nothing, in order to exploit these lands for its food, water and mineral resources. The problem statement poses a question as to what the international community can and should do about this situation, and whether this practice should be left to the rules of the free market or regulated by international codes of conduct. Several examples of land grab incidents are cited in the paper, with notable reference to one particular land deal in which a large Asian multinational nearly acquired half of an African country for free, in exchange for nothing but employment opportunities for the locals. We will look at what exactly causes and drives this phenomenon, the impacts it has on local communities, the reaction of the international community and well as the affected local communities, and what can be done to abate or control this trend. We will also refer to a number of written articles on the subject and look at some theories on the ethics of capitalism. From these perspectives we will analyze the issue and conclude by making recommendations on whether or not free market capitalism is justified and should be encouraged in these deals, and also make recommendations regarding the role international organizations should play and the extent to which they should be involved.

“Land grabbing is a global phenomenon initiated by local and transnational elites, governments and multinational companies in order to control the most precious resources in the world… [It] exceeds the traditional North-South split that characterizes imperialist structures. Or land and identities are not for sale…

The struggle against land grabbing is a struggle against capitalism…” Via Campesina 2012: 21-22. (Campesina, 2011)

PROBLEM STATEMENT
“Land grabbing” in developing countries poses a major threat to their socio-economic security. Should large-scale overseas land acquisition be left to the rules of free market capitalism, or tightly regulated by international policy?

The term “land grabbing” or “global land grab” refers to large scale acquisitions of vast tracts of land within developing countries by foreign governments, transnationals and anonymous investors in controversial or extremely lop-sided deals. It’s a growing phenomenon in which rich countries and companies are buying parts of developing countries almost for free, or in exchange for vague promises of future job creation and infrastructural development. After acquiring these lands the buyers gain full access to all the resources available on them at the expense of the local communities, from agricultural and hydro resources to mineral and petroleum resources just to name a few. There are many converging views on the topic of large scale foreign purchase of land to the extent that even the term “land grabbing” itself is considered controversial. On one hand, investors and capitalists argue that they are creating win-win situations by providing development opportunities in poor regions which the local communities would otherwise not have been able to carve out for themselves. On the other hand most observers argue that the majority of these land grab operations are extractive projects in which nearly 100% of the benefits go back to the investors, while the local communities only...
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