Synthesis of Discussions at the International Meeting: “Agrarian Reform and the Defense of Land and Territory in the 21st Century: The Challenge and Future,” held in Bukit Tinggi, West Sumatera, Indonesia, July 10th- 13th, 2012
Prepared by Shalmali Guttal with inputs from Sofia Monsalve, Rebeca Leonard and all participants at the International Meeting. An adapted version was published in the Journal of Peasant Studies 40:4 (2013), and in “Keeping Land Local” (2014), available at: focusweb.org/landstruggles.
Since the era of the first green revolution, family farming, fertile lands and bio-diverse eco-systems have been steadily disappearing worldwide. Small-scale family farmers, peasants, fisher folk, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and other rural communities have been increasingly marginalized by high economic growth oriented development approaches and strategies. Lands, water bodies, minerals, landscapes and eco-systems have been expropriated or transferred to private actors for large dams, agricultural monocultures, plantations, industrial zones, special economic zones (SEZs), tourism, conservation projects, energy and transportation infrastructure, urban expansion, etc.
Although peasant, fisher folk and pastoral families produce majority of the world’s food, the official support given to their economies is far from adequate compared to that given to agribusiness corporations. Decades of neoliberal policies have enabled transnational corporations (TNCs) and elites to concentrate control over land, water, seeds and other natural wealth. The dominant media stigmatizes small-scale food production and in most countries, those who stand up for their rights are criminalized. In the past decade we have witnessed a global resurgence of land grabbing led by national and transnational elites, investors and governments, with the aim of controlling the world’s most precious resources.
At the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2006, states recognized and re-affirmed their commitments to implementing genuine agrarian reform and rural development, which include inter alia, the realization of human rights, food security, poverty eradication and social justice based on democratic law. Till now, however, ICARRD promises remain unfulfilled while the FAO, other UN agencies, International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and many governments propose mechanisms to justify and legalize the global land rush.
In light of the intense economic and political changes over the past two decades, La Via Campesina (LVC) and the Global Campaign on Agrarian Reform (GCAR) organized an international meeting to discuss the global conjuncture and different manifestations of the deepening agrarian crisis, and identify key elements of a common strategy for agrarian reform, food sovereignty and the defense of land and territories. Over 150 representatives from peasants, fisher folk, indigenous peoples, youth, workers, women, landless workers, human rights and research organizations participated in the Meeting, “Agrarian Reform and the Defense of Land and Territory in the 21st Century, the Challenge and Future,” which was held in Bukit Tinggi, West Sumatera, Indonesia from July 10th-13th 2012. This document presents the synthesis of discussions at the meeting.
The Conjuncture: Identifying the Threats and Challenges We Face
“Malian farmers suffer because our government takes our land and sells it to [other] countries. At the last minute, we see people come and measure the land and, after that, Chinese TNCs come and exploit hundreds of thousands of hectares. They are building a canal over 100.000 ha and have taken our land that we have owned for thousands of years. We protested against the building of the canal and we said we would not leave our houses. As the result of what the local people are doing, they are buying out peasants with little plots of land here and there.”
“Africa is the theatre of massive land grabbing by TNCs because Africa has natural resources, peasants do not have titles to land and local communities are driven away from their lands. Now we have increasing famine.”
“We need to fight for our dignity and die for our land.”
Drivers of Land & Resource Grabbing
& the Destruction of Rural Livelihoods
Capitalism and imperialism are long-standing economic-political models that dominate peoples and communities and exploit nature. Surplus capital is flowing into mining, fishing, industrial agriculture, agro-fuels, large infrastructure and environmental conservation. The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and other new green revolution programmes are capturing land, soils, seeds and water, and promoting technologies such as synthetic biology and genetically modified varieties that undermine local agricultural and food systems, and consolidate corporate control over a new agriculture without farmers.
Nature and agriculture are being financialised, whereby finance capital can gain control over nature’s elements, processes and related practices. Financialisation is accelerating the commoditization and privatisation of nature, as in the Green and Blue Economies, payments for environmental services and REDD/REDD+, which were promoted by governments at the Rio+20 Summit in 2012.
The Green Economy proposes to achieve economic growth by trading nature: financial values are assigned to forests, biodiversity, soil, water and other elements and functions of nature to derive green ‘credits,’ which can then be traded in markets and attract investment capital. The Blue Economy seeks to privatize ocean and marine areas through different schemes, for example, the Coral Triangle Initiative funded by the US and several donors. A recent law in Indonesia allows the private sector access to marine areas for over 90 years through concessions. The Green and Blue economies also include the capture of nature for conservation purposes, popularly referred to as green and blue grabbing. At the same time, fisher folk, peasants, herders, forest peoples and indigenous peoples are accused of destroying the environment and wildlife, and barred access to crucial, life-sustaining eco-systems that they have traditionally lived in harmony with.
War, occupation and military invasions continue to restrict and/or close off the access of local communities to farmlands, forests, coasts and water bodies. The occupation of areas by governments in the name of security is one of the biggest threats to food sovereignty. In Palestine, Israeli bulldozers destroy farmlands and homes if they are considered too close to the Gaza border. Local farmers try to re-plant their farms and orchards but continue to face military oppression. Palestinian farmers have lost their sources of food, water, income and livelihoods, and 1.5-2 million trees have been destroyed in the past decade.
Climate change has brought new challenges to the production capacities and livelihoods of small-scale food producers through changes in temperature, precipitation, water availability, pests and production conditions, as well as increases in natural disasters. The so-called solutions to climate change however, neither address these challenges nor do they slow down climate change. Many ‘solutions’ (such as Clean Development Mechanisms, REDD/REDD+, climate smart agriculture and agrofuels) displace small-scale food producers from their domains and territories, destroy their coping mechanisms, resilience and autonomous adaptive capacities, and create opportunities for corporations and traders to acquire rural peoples’ lands, forests, coasts, water sources, biodiversity, etc.
Official and mainstream narratives of ‘crisis’ deepen the problems created by capitalism and facilitate the concentration of wealth and control over the world’s resources in the hands of elites. For example, the food crisis can be solved through more industrial agriculture; the climate crisis should be addressed through emissions trading, offsets, the green economy, climate smart agriculture and agrofuels, and; the financial crisis can be overcome by bailing out the banks and further financializing the entire economy. In reality, capitalism transforms crises into opportunities for greater value extraction. The global financial, food, energy and climate crises have triggered a rush among investors and wealthy governments to capture land and natural resources, since these are the only havens for financial investments that guarantee financial returns. States are collaborating with corporations on nuclear energy, hydropower, ‘clean coal,’ natural gas and agrofuels, which entail the capture of lands, forests, rivers, minerals, coasts and sea-beds.
Free trade and investment agreements promote export-oriented agriculture and enable land, water and resource grabbing, which destroy local modes of production, local food systems and the livelihoods of small-scale agricultural producers. These agreements constrain the abilities of governments to regulate in favor of the public interest, allow TNCs to capture markets, and demand new regulations that are reorienting food systems towards greater market dependency. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, European Union (EU) trade-investment agreements with Asian and African countries, and other trade-investment agreements under negotiation will destroy the livelihoods of small-scale food producers.
Criminalization is a major and growing threat faced by farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, local communities and human rights defenders. Those who organize and mobilize to defend their lands and territories, and demand implementation of agrarian reform are intimidated, arbitrarily arrested and detained, beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted, disappeared and/or killed. Corporate-friendly regulations in many countries provide new avenues to restrict the independence of small-scale food producers: seed laws that support patent protection prevent peasants from freely exchanging their seeds; small-scale dairy farmers are not permitted to sell their milk because of hygiene or food safety regulations, and so forth. TNCs are suing their critics and those who organize any opposition to their operations.
The Actors Behind these Trends
National and transnational corporations are the most visible grabbers of land and natural resources in every region for a variety of purposes. Corporations destroy native eco-systems and landscapes, undermine rural and local economies, and displace local communities. They promise jobs, fair compensation, water systems, health and education services, environmental clean-up and new livelihoods, but do not meet these commitments.
The state is a major and powerful actor in both, actual expropriations for national development projects, as well as in enabling corporations and elites to acquire control over land and natural resources. States put in place corporate-friendly laws and regulations, identify so called marginal, empty and idle lands for investors, offer a variety of subsidies and carrots to corporate and foreign investors, use coercion and military force to impose policies and projects, and use the legal system to suppress dissent and resistance.
IFIs and multilateral institutions, including UN agencies, play an important role in facilitating land and natural resource grabbing by promoting extractive, destructive and economic growth driven development models, and discouraging states to legislate and regulate in favour of workers, small-scale producers and the environment. They support corporate-friendly policies and laws, facilitate capital and guarantees for corporate investors and ally with corporations to design and promote profit making ventures such as the green and blue economies, REDD+, carbon trading, etc. World Bank supported natural resource governance policies are aimed at stimulating land markets, promoting private property rights and privatizing water, while plundering peasant communities. Recent trends in the 2012 Earth Summit, FAO and UNFCCC show that they support neoliberal development agendas using the rationale of reducing hunger, poverty, unemployment, etc.
Learning from the Past
“The issue of land reform is the central axis of La Via Campesina. It is also the most important issue in the history of Via Campesina. It runs through generations and across all regions and continents.”
“Land reform is a struggle not only between peasants and landlords, but a struggle for all of society. What kind of society do we want to live in? Do we want inequality, global warming, poverty, misery and urban slums? Agrarian reform and food sovereignty are the keys to changing this society.”
“We need new and systematic tactics and strategies to oppose land grabbing that go beyond sabotage and boycotts. We must fight against governments, entrepreneurs and even our own stupidity!”
Common Contexts and Experiences
The experiences of land grabbing are similar across countries, and rural and urban areas. Investors—state and private—acquire good quality land near markets, roads and water sources and have both, money and state support to negotiate long-term leases (for example, 50-99 years), which completely dispossess local peoples from their principle sources of livelihood. Land grabbing in rural areas almost always results in land degradation, environmental contamination and the destruction of diverse eco-systems. Investors make false promises to local communities of schools, jobs, health services and better living conditions. But most often, they take the lands and evict people. Those who resist are dealt with violently and in many places (for example, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and India), peoples’ homes are burnt and farms destroyed.
Struggles for land and food have been intrinsic to processes of social transformation and central to many revolutionary political changes. In the 20th century, agrarian reform and freedom from hunger were directly linked to decolonization and liberation struggles. Agrarian reform was an issue not only concerning farmers, but a powerful political issue, adopted and promoted by many newly independent governments and frequently viewed as a crucial step towards redressing past wrongs. It was implemented in varying degrees and forms and with varying success in many Asian, Latin American and African countries. In Asia, these include Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Peoples’ Republic of China, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and India. Agrarian reform was as much about distributing land to the landless for agricultural production as it was about ensuring appropriate access to credit, markets and resources, and policies/mechanisms that supported the economic capacities of small-scale producers and peasants. By the 1980-s, new movements started to emerge for indigenous peoples’ rights and of rural peoples negatively affected by dams, mining, development and infrastructure projects, tourism and conservation projects. These were struggles for the defense of land and territories.
Today, in the 21st century, agrarian reform has not been fully implemented anywhere. Around the world, fertile lands, water sources and bodies and rich eco-systems have been, or are being seized and enclosed by investors, financiers, government agencies, military forces and even environmental organisations. Past agrarian reform successes are being reversed and IFIs and multilateral institutions continue to propose new frameworks to justify the widespread dispossession and alienation of local communities and food producers that result from these seizures and enclosures.
The agricultural production sector is becoming polarized: both peasant movements and agribusinesses are growing, but family farmers who became entrepreneurial farmers are crushed by agribusiness. Rural indebtedness is increasing because of credit programs pushed by governments and financial institutions to integrate farmers into global value chains. The situation is building up to a massive battle between agribusinesses and corporations, and peasant/rural movements for control of rural economies, livelihoods and resources.
Fisher folk have not been able to escape the trap of neoliberalism and markets either. After the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, the government intensified investment in coastal areas and corporations started taking over the fishing waters and lands of fisher folk. Under the guise of rehabilitation, the Sri Lankan Government started pushing fisher folk to integrate into world markets, and promoting mega infrastructure, energy and tourism projects, SEZs and industrial aquaculture in coastal areas. Such trends are happening across Asia and Africa. Through the “blue economy,” governments are creating marine protected areas and at the same time, signing investment treaties that allow investors free access to coastal areas, and permit joint ventures between local and external investors for fishing. At the same time, local fisher folk are not allowed to enter their own traditional fishing waters and not able to use the legal system to secure free access to their fishing areas.
The defense of rights to food, water, land, resources, freedom of expression and life itself, by peasants, fisher folk, indigenous peoples, workers, community leaders and human rights activists are dealt with extremely harshly by states, corporations and elites. Evictions, intimidation, violence, incarceration, assassination and disappearances of rights defenders are increasing in all our countries.
Lessons from Agrarian Reform
and Related Struggles
Although we face powerful enemies, our struggles have become stronger and our strategies more effective, in great part due to the alliances we have built, our continuous processes of learning and the praxis we have set up within our movements. In Jambi, Indonesia, despite extreme violence by the Indonesian state and companies, SPI members rejected REDD.
We learned from indigenous peoples’ cosmovisions that land is not only a means of production; we must understand and defend the concept of territory, which includes water, air, culture, sacred sites, ceremonies and practices. Access to land, water, forests, seeds, food, jobs, shelter, peace, dignity, and productive resources and capacity are basic human rights, intertwined with the right to life. For peasants, fisher folk, pastoralists, workers and indigenous peoples, the defense of land and territories is a moral imperative as well as a matter of survival. “The Declaration of Rights of Peasants—Women and Men” proposed by LVC is a crucial step forward in acknowledging the rights of small-scale agricultural and food producers, just as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples did for the rights of indigenous peoples.
Our struggles traverse many arenas: public, private, family, inter-generational, social and political. We have seen that agrarian reform reunites families, slows the migration of youth to cities, generates employment and revitalizes local economies. Regrettably though, agrarian reform struggles have not responded well to the particular situations of women. In many societies, land tenure and ownership are attached to men, and women’s rights to resources and all things in their households are tied to their husbands. Women’s autonomous rights to land and wealth are not recognized and they lose access more easily than men. When lands are grabbed, women work harder to feed their families and communities. Women are often pushed off their lands to the farthest, more remote areas. Women play crucial roles in nurturing lands and territories, saving seeds and rebuilding our food systems, but are rarely visible in leadership positions in peasant movements. Moving towards equal social relations must start from within our own movements and organizations, respecting women’s contributions and capacities, and overcoming the socio-cultural barriers to women’s empowerment. Many LVC members have initiated activities to address the challenges that women face and are working towards women’s empowerment, education and leadership building. LVC has launched a movement wide campaign on Violence Against Women that seeks to address the different types of violence that women face: economic, political, social, cultural and physical.
Agrarian reform struggles need to be driven by peasants and from below; autonomy and self-directed processes at local levels are extremely important in order to build new societal relations. Even where progressive governments are in power, agrarian reform cannot be sustained without strong peasant movements—as shown in the cases of Zimbabwe, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nepal. No matter how supportive the governments, they need strong peasant movements to push them to take the required action and keep them on track. We have learned that land occupations by peasants are an effective strategy of agrarian reform from below; governments will not act unless we take matters into our own hands. But successful land occupations need political and economic support from social movements, local communities, broader society, and the press and media.
We see that there is a mismatch between the locations, sizes and intensity of land grabbing on one hand, and the organizing of political resistance and mobilizations against land grabbing by social movements on the other hand. In the places where the worst land grabs are happening, there are few social movements, and organizing, mobilizing and sustaining resistance to the land grabs are difficult.
We have thus learned the importance of building and strengthening political alliances with other movements, organizations and coalitions, and helping to organize communities where needed. Land and resource grabbers are quicker than us, have more money and greater access to organized mechanisms of power than us. We have to build strong alliances with other constituencies that are fighting against land, forest, water and sea grabbing, SEZs, and free trade and investment agreements; accordingly, our strategies need to address much more than agriculture—environmental policies, mining, fisheries, rivers, dams energy, health care, education, women’s rights, self determination, civil-political rights, etc.
Our alliances with organizations engaged in research, training, education and popular media have helped to update and sharpen our analyses, strengthen our knowledge and capacities, and challenge neoliberalism and capitalism effectively with the grounded knowledge of our movements. Our struggles to defend land and territories span and must continue to span multiple arenas, from the streets to courts of law and to the offices of governments and multilateral institutions.
At some point in the past, the fight for land was also a fight for peasants to gain entry into agricultural value chains, but we have seen how monocultures destroy lands and entire eco-systems. Instead, over the past several years we have focused on agroecology, through which peasants can reclaim control over their seeds, soils, water and agricultural production, fight against the commodification of natural resources, and protect and nurture the earth. Agroecology contrasts the Green Economy in approach and politics and is the peasant’s view of how to fight against commodification of natural resources and to care for the earth.
The World Bank, other international agencies and most governments argue that in the present context, the redistribution of land to landless and land-poor communities is not possible, large-scale land related investments are necessary for economic growth, and land expropriations and transfers are thus inevitable. In their thinking, what is needed is rules to mitigate negative impacts and make these deals “win-win,” which can be done through initiatives for transparency, consultation and information disclosure, as outlined in the World Bank designed Principles of Responsible Agricultural Investment (PRAI). Many NGOs are also involved in these initiatives and huge amounts of money are being spent on building false expectations that communities can benefit from these deals. Popular education of our own movements and organizations, as well as broader society and elected officials, of the fallacy and deceit of such initiatives is imperative to delegitimize them.
From our successes and failures we have learned that we need to clarify many concepts and strategies before we propose them for wider use. For example, how should peasants use and manage lands once they have them, so as to not lose them again? How effective are community based land-resource governance systems? How can the concepts of ancestral domain and tenure be used to stop land and resource grabbing? How can we resolve the contradictions between land rights and land alienation inherent in individualized land titling initiatives? How can we protect the rights of local communities to forest tenure, but at the same time, not fall into the trap of market mechanisms such as REDD+, PES etc.? How can we build local autonomy and avoid the traps of inequality that arise from cultural traditions, especially, discrimination based on gender, caste, ethnicity and race?
The Defense of Land and Territory and Agrarian Reform in the 21st Century
“Food sovereignty will be the heart of our struggle. If we are united we can fight together.”
“Indigenous peoples talk about loving not only our lands, but our entire territories.”
“We need to develop international solidarity around issues of land; we need to connect land reform, food sovereignty and agroecology.”
Elements of a New Vision
Agrarian reform in the 21st Century must be an integral struggle for justice that democratizes agrarian structures and builds new social, economic and political relations. It is based on a hybrid cosmovision that incorporates space, territory, water and biodiversity, and the principal that rights to land accrue only to those who work it, depend on it and reside on it with their families. To counter the destruction wreaked by several decades of neoliberalism, the new agrarian reform must be revolutionary and transformative. It must end land and resource concentration and include measures designed to resist counter-agrarian reform. Below are the elements of our new vision.
Food sovereignty: A new agrarian reform must be founded on the principles of food sovereignty and have as its central pillar, the concept of territory. Food sovereignty necessarily demands secure access to and control over farmlands, seeds, breeds, forests, pastoral lands, migratory routes, fishing areas, water bodies, seas, coasts and eco-systems by peasants, fisher folk, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and workers. Food sovereignty cannot be realized without land and resource sovereignty, and the rights of food producers to govern their territories and domains, which include their customs, rules and agreements for protecting, using and sharing domains that cross geo-political boundaries.
Redistribution of power: Land redistributive policies imply the expropriation of private lands that do not serve a social purpose and distribute them to landless and land-poor families. However, the over-arching goal of redistribution is to redistribute power, and alter power relations in favor of small-scale food producers and their organizations and movements. Peasants who have occupied lands should be provided the legal and other supports to sustain and make the occupations productive. Such redistribution cannot be carried out through market mechanisms. Agrarian reform must balance the priorities of peasants, family farmers, fisher folk, indigenous peoples, the landless, pastoralists and other rural communities, emphasizing the particular needs of women and youth.
The right to resources, territory and self-determination: Agrarian reform must guarantee rural people secure access to and control over their lands and territories to live healthy and meaningful lives. The new, agrarian reform must restore pride of identity and the dignity of peasants, indigenous peoples, fisher folk, pastoralists, workers and women. It must respect the rights of mother earth, the cosmvisions of different rural communities and cultures, and local autonomy and governance with equal rights for women and men. Communities of food producers should be able to make decisions over the use, management and preservation of their lands, territories and resources. Agrarian reform should be accompanied by aquatic reform. The rights and capacities of women, youth and historically marginalized groups (by social, cultural and economic discrimination) to land, resources and participation in decision-making, must be prioritized.
Defense of land and territories: All possible measures—legal, regulatory and direct action—should be used to defend lands, water, territories, minerals and biodiversity from expropriations, capitalist enclosures, commodification and destruction. Land and territory must be defended as social/collective wealth, not simply as individual property while at the same time respecting and upholding the rights of mother earth. Land speculation must be prohibited, and state and private corporations must be prevented from acquiring large expanses of land. These include community/collective titles to prevent individual land parcels from entering the market, opposing market mechanisms in land governance, peoples’ counter-enclosures such as land occupations, and visible mobilizations on the streets and in public spaces and fora to build public support for our struggles.
Address poverty, unemployment, hunger and distress migration: Agrarian reform must create enabling conditions for enhancing standards of living for the majority and for reviving and rebuilding rural economies, including for example, public provision of good quality, affordable and accessible services in health, education, electricity, water and sanitation, transportation, recreation, credit, banks, markets, etc. It must reverse the distress migration of rural peoples, enable the reinsertion of peasants back on to their lands, and ensure a future for young people in the countryside.
Rural-urban land sovereignty: Despite the necessary focus on rural areas, our vision must also address the reality of urban areas, especially in relation to land, water, housing, food and other essential services. The same forces of speculative capital that drive land grabbing and displacement of peoples in rural areas are behind the real estate speculation that causes mass evictions of the urban poor. A strong-rural-urban alliance to resist common enemies requires rebuilding inter-dependence between producers and consumers, and revisiting concepts of social, economic, political and environmental justice.
Models of production, distribution and consumption: Should be non-exploitative, environmentally responsible and slow down climate change. Energy policy is especially important since land, forests, rivers, seas and sea-beds are being captured to feed high-energy industries and lifestyles. Production models should empower and enrich small-scale food producers rather than forcing them into debt traps or value chains that they have no control over. The right to produce should not be commoditized and controls over overproduction should be re-introduced, exports should be limited and dumping ended. Production and distribution models should be based on food sovereignty and agroecology, and support the recovery of native seeds and animal breeds, water harvesting, locally generated renewable energy, revival of traditional foods, re-building local food systems, and establishing cooperatives for production, marketing, quality control, etc.
Peace, justice and dignity: Struggles for food sovereignty, agrarian reform and defense of land and territories are struggles for peace, justice, dignity and life. A new agrarian reform must mobilize forces to end state, military and corporate occupations of lands and territories, oppose war and militarization of our economic systems, and challenge the criminalization of our struggles. We have the right to dissent, organize, associate, assemble, oppose, protest and build alternatives, and these rights must be upheld.
Realizing Our Vision
A crucial first step in realizing our vision of agrarian reform and defense of land and territories, is clarifying, refining and articulating the vision clearly. Other actors also use many of the concepts and terms we use, but with different interpretations, for example tenure security, land rights, food security, policy reform, etc. We need to have a common understanding among ourselves of our terminology to avoid manipulation by others. Our strategy to realize our vision includes several distinct and complementary components, described below.
Build and strengthen our knowledge systems and capacities: We will continue to update our information and understanding about food sovereignty, land-resource grabbing, economic and financial policies, trade and investment agreements, commodity markets, climate change, corporations, conflicts, occupations, and other relevant events, trends, initiatives and actors. At the same time, we need to conduct our own research and documentation to strengthen our knowledge and capacity to challenge false promises, allegations and assessments by the state, corporations, mainstream academe and press, and the military.
Promote and support sustainable peasant agriculture: We must promote sustainable peasants agriculture based on agroecology, which includes peasants’ knowledge, farmer-to-farmer research, farm-saved seeds, biodiversity protection, social and political equality, and the innovation of new ecological practices. Support must also be built for marketing, organization, quality control, etc.
Build alliances, unities and campaigns: It is important and urgent to build and strengthen unity, alliances and linkages across different constituencies, movements and campaigns on land, water, forests, mining, human rights, climate justice, trade, investment, etc. The Rights of Peasants is an important framework for us to build alliances on. We will link our struggles with other anti corporate globalization movements, and also link different levels of struggles from local to international. Academics, research organizations and press-media are important allies in elaborating and advocating our vision.
We need to build South-South campaigns against corporations from our countries that grab lands and resources in other countries. Campaign targets should be selected strategically, where national movements are strong, for example, the Indian corporation TATA is planning to buy coal from Indonesia for a mega power plant in the western coast of India. The power plant will destroy coastal ecosystems, fish, mangroves and livelihoods, and pollute the waters and salt. By targeting this corporation and project, we can broaden our alliances and reach a larger audience.
Public outreach and popular education: Agrarian reform is a priority issue for all of society and we need to build strong public support for it. Popular education and consistent outreach to society will be crucial to mobilize broad based resistance against land-resource grabbing and support for our vision and strategies. We should help people to understand what land and resource grabbing are, how they are happening, who/what are driving them, their impacts at multiple levels, how to stop them, and our proposals for how to use, manage and govern land and eco-systems. To achieve this, we need to form alliances with like-minded researchers, journalists, filmmakers, musicians, academics, consumer organizations, student groups, workers’ unions, etc.
Change laws, regulations and policies: To create space for our vision, we must resist neoliberal frameworks of agrarian reform and governance of land and territories imposed by states and multilateral institutions. At the same time, we need to change national and international regulations to stop governments and multilateral agencies from supporting corporations and creating new opportunities for land-resource grabbing. Laws and policies that are antagonistic to small-scale food providers and the environment, and which promote land markets and counter-land reform must be changed. National and international policies and laws should rebuild strong rural economies and societies, empower small-scale producers and workers, and assist them to be self-reliant.
Build leadership of women and youth: Women are organizing and empowering themselves in several different spaces but at the same time, they face the worst acts of violence and degradation from state and private security forces and often, even within their own communities. We must ensure the safety, dignity, abilities and rights of women in all spaces and struggles. Important steps include ending the violence against women, recognizing and respecting their rights, and supporting women in our movements to become leaders. The youth are our future and as they grow within our movements, they have a lot to teach the movements about new technologies, trends, outreach and communication methods, etc. We need to reach out to the youth through their social networks, communities and universities, and support training for young people to become leaders in their communities and networks on political and economic issues.
Claiming and occupying multilateral spaces: Although national arenas are our main arenas of struggles, we need be able to use multilateral organizations (for example the UN agencies), spaces and mechanisms to support local-national struggles. Past engagements in international processes have taught us that it is not enough to only resist, we must also have strategies for changing international policy frameworks. We need to push for mechanisms and agreements that will secure and protect the tenurial rights of farmers, fisher folk, indigenous people, pastoralists, workers and local communities to their land, territories and resources. Many social movements fought to get the Voluntary Guidelines on the
Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security; now we have to put our own vision in them, promote our interpretation of the Guidelines and demand their implementation.
Build and strengthen solidarity: We must give our support and solidarity to political struggles on land, water, food sovereignty, self-determination and peace, land, for example in Honduras, Guatemala, Columbia, Argentina, Mali, Mozambique, Palestine, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, the Philippines. Land reclamation in Palestine demands special and consistent popular support from all our movements.
Build popular resistance to the power of TNCs: We need to build popular opposition to TNCs and dismantle their power and control over governments through laws, policies and popular support. For this, we need to ally with campaigns against privatization, extractive industry, trade-investment, financialization, etc., and document evidence of how TNCs are manipulating governments, multilateral institutions and national and international laws to maintain control over the earth’s resources.
Direct action: We need to organize visible actions on the streets to show peoples’ power, and reach out to the public, press-media and other progressive organizations to advocate for our vision. We must have defensive as well as pro-active actions of peoples’ counter-enclosures. An important but difficult form of counter-enclosure is land occupation.
Reclaim the state: Our states must serve the interests of majority of the populations—particularly those who are vulnerable—rather than those of elite minorities and corporate interests. For this, we need to develop, identify and elect new types of leaders, create movements to change governments’ positions, laws, policies, etc.