Lorenzo Cotula's blog posts

15 July 2013 |

African governments have played a key role in allocating land to investors. Recent developments hold out promise for more carefully thought out approaches by them in the future.

1 May 2013 |

A recent US judgment is a setback in efforts to improve corporate accountability, but promising developments elsewhere are creating new opportunities.

17 April 2013 |

Greater transparency was a key theme at the World Bank land conference last week. Transparency is critical, but without greater accountability to local communities it is not enough.

8 March 2013 |

In January, the president of Benin and the prime minister of Canada announced they had signed a new bilateral investment treaty (BIT). The treaty, which is now publicly available, is just the latest in a large number of BITs signed by African countries over the past 20 years.

6 December 2012 |

Corporate interest in agricultural investment is up, but a new report shows that policies are skewed against inclusive investments. We need to reshape them so investments meet local people's needs and aspirations. 

24 October 2012 |

Researchers studying land acquisitions in the global south face many challenges, including trying to measure the exact scale of the problem. Developing rigorous methods to assess how the rush for land is exacerbating land scarcity and affecting people locally is perhaps the most promising way to measure what the scale of the land rush means for recipient countries and the people who live in them, says Lorenzo Cotula.

22 February 2012 |

With land central to the livelihoods of millions of people in Africa, Lorenzo Cotula examines the impact of large-scale land acquisitions on the continent's farmers and says that promoting agricultural development in Africa and addressing the world's food security challenges requires investing in farmers - not in farmland.

13 October 2011 |

Imagine you live in a small village in Africa. You and your family cultivate a small plot of land, graze livestock on village land and collect fire wood from a nearby forest – just as your grandparents and great grandparents did. Then, one day, everything changes. A big car arrives in the village with company officials and the chief district officer. You are told that the company and the government have signed a lease that gives the company a large area of land – including your plot, rangeland and forest. The visiting officials are upbeat – there will be jobs, a village school and a clinic as result. But you have heard promises before, and you were let down. You stand to lose all that you have – the land that feeds your family and that you belong to. All for an uncertain future. You rightly ask: “Will the jobs materialise? Will I get one? Why should I give up my farm to work on somebody else’s plantation?”