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PARIS, MONTEVIDEO, LONDON, June 20, 2011: Today, in advance of the G20 Agriculture Ministers meeting in Paris on June 22 – 23rd, hundreds of civil society groups are calling on G20 governments to halt all land grabs and return lands to communities with immediate effect.

Friends of the Earth International along with farmers’ movements, women’s groups and more than 500 other organisations have outlined the actions necessary to ensure food security and sovereignty, combat rural poverty and protect the global food system from future environmental shocks. [1]

The Paris G20 meeting will discuss measures to tackle food price volatility and the food crisis, but Friends of the Earth International exposes that their recommendations so far will fail to reduce hunger or halt the grabbing of resources and land from the poorest communities.

Friends of the Earth International Food Sovereignty program coordinator Kirtana Chandrasekaran said: “The G20 does not represent many countries or communities facing hunger and it has a history of pushing deregulation which has worsened the food crisis. It has no legitimacy to decide on global solutions to the food crisis or price volatility. Instead the G20 governments need to focus on putting their own house in order and stop plundering land from the poorest and most vulnerable. This means saying no to biofuels, funding small scale low input farming at home and abroad and putting in place more controls on trading in food products.”

A leaked draft of the G20 communiqué prescribes more free trade, intensification of agricultural production, extremely weak measures on combating speculation and more biofuels. It also foresees a greater role for the World Bank and private investment in mitigating risks from agriculture. Already millions of hectares of fertile land, along with their water resources, are being grabbed from peasants, pastoralists, herders, fisher folk, indigenous peoples and traditional healers to be converted into massive agribusiness operations by private investors who want to produce food supplies or agrofuels for international markets. As a consequence, millions of peasant families and other rural and indigenous folk are being thrown off their lands and deprived of their livelihoods. [2] This resource grab is intensified by trade policies that are focused on exports rather than feeding local people and agrofuels. [3]

The civil society appeal, being handed over to the French Government chairing the G20, is demanding a central role for the democratic United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to tackle resource grabs. It calls upon the CFS to reject the ‘Responsible Agricultural Investment’ guidelines developed by the World Bank which are illegitimate and inadequate to address the phenomenon of land grabbing. Instead the CFS must develop effective mandatory guidelines for land tenure that respect and protect peoples’ rights especially the right to food. It also calls for an inclusive process launched at CFS to be on what kind of investments are needed to support small holder food producers.

The petition states that national governments and international institutions should guarantee peoples’ rights to land instead of signing leases with big private investors. Sustainable family farming, agro-ecological production models and strong local markets have been recognized as the best way to feed people and to protect the planet. [4]



Friends of the Earth International representatives will be available in Paris for media comment.

Media contacts:

In London : Kirtana Chandrasekaran – coordinator Friends of the Earth International Food Sovereignty program, + 44 79 619 86956, kirtana.chandrasekaran[at]

In Paris: David Sanchez – Friends of the Earth International Food campaigner, +34 691471389, omg[at]

In Uruguay: Martin Drago – coordinator Friends of the Earth International Food Sovereignty program, +59899138559, martin.drago[at]



[1] Over 500 organisations from around the world, including Friends of the Earth International, have joined the “Dakar Appeal Against Land Grabbing” that was originally drawn up at the World Social Forum in Dakar last February. See

[2] During a major academic conference on land grabbing earlier this year in Brighton, UK, research studies of over 100 cases of “large scale land investments” were presented. They generally show no positive effects for local communities (3). On the contrary, in many cases people are being evicted and pushed into poverty. See

[3] Last week a leaked document from leading international organisations concluded Government subsidies to promote biofuels must be abandoned to reduce volatility in global food prices.

[4] In April 2008 the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a study by 400 multi-disciplinary scientists and several international organisations concluded that agro-ecology, local trade and supporting small farmers is the best way forward to combat hunger and poverty.