Change in land ownership in developing countries is commonly driven by large-scale acquisitions, which see the transfer of land from small-scale farmers to large investors and the conversion of land from subsistence to commercial use. UP TO 59% of land deals cover communal lands claimed by indigenous peoples and small communities, which translates to the potential displacement of millions of people.



Total glob­al wealth has reached a stag­ger­ing $255 tril­lion. Since 2015, more than half of thiswealth has been in the hands of the rich­est 1% of peo­ple. At the very top, this year‟s datafinds that col­lec­tive­ly the rich­est eight indi­vid­u­als have a net wealth of $426bn, which is the same as the net wealth of the bot­tom half of humanity.

Wealth con­tin­ues to accu­mu­late for the wealthy. Cap­i­tal own­ers have con­sis­tent­ly seen their returns out­strip eco­nom­ic growth over the past three decades. Oxfam‟s pre­vi­ous reportshave shown how this extreme and grow­ing wealth in the hands of a few trans­lates to pow­er and undue influ­ence over poli­cies and institutions.

Mean­while the accu­mu­la­tion of mod­est assets, espe­cial­ly agri­cul­tur­al assets such as land and live­stock, is one of the most impor­tant means by which to escape pover­ty. Wealth is crit­i­cal for peo­ple liv­ing in pover­ty to be able to respond to finan­cial shocks like a med­ical bill. How­ev­er, esti­mates from Cred­it Suisse find that col­lec­tive­ly the poor­est 50% of peo­ple have less than a quar­ter of 1% of glob­al net wealth. Nine per­cent of the peo­ple in this group have neg­a­tive wealth, and most of these peo­ple live in rich­er coun­tries where stu­dent debt and oth­er cred­it facil­i­ties are avail­able. But even if we dis­count the debts of peo­ple liv­ing in Europe and North Amer­i­ca, the total wealth of the bot­tom 50% is still less than 1%.

Unlike extreme wealth at the top, which can be observed and doc­u­ment­ed through var­i­ous rich lists, we have much less infor­ma­tion about the wealth of those at the bot­tom of the dis­tri­b­u­tion. We do know how­ev­er, that many peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing pover­ty around the world are see­ing an ero­sion of their main source of wealth – name­ly land, nat­ur­al resources and homes – as a con­se­quence of inse­cure land rights, land grab­bing, land frag­men­ta­tion and ero­sion, cli­mate change, urban evic­tion and forced dis­place­ment. While total farm­land has increased glob­al­ly, small fam­i­ly farms oper­ate a declin­ing share of this land. Own­er­ship of land among the poor­est wealth quin­tile fell by 7.3% between the 1990s and 2000s.

Change in land own­er­ship in devel­op­ing coun­tries is com­mon­ly dri­ven by large-scale acqui­si­tions, which see the trans­fer of land from small-scale farm­ers to large investors and the con­ver­sion of land from sub­sis­tence to com­mer­cial use. UP TO 59% of land deals cov­er com­mu­nal lands claimed by indige­nous peo­ples and small com­mu­ni­ties, which trans­lates to the poten­tial dis­place­ment of mil­lions of peo­ple. Yet only 14% of deals have involved a prop­er process to obtain „free pri­or and informed con­sent‟ (FPIC). Dis­tri­b­u­tion of land is most unequal in Latin Amer­i­ca, where 64% of the total wealth is relat­ed to non-finan­cial assets like land and hous­ing and 1% of „super farms‟ in Latin Amer­i­ca now con­trol more pro­duc­tive land than the oth­er 99%.

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