The last twenty years have seen the rapid acquisition of large plots of land in the global south by national and international elites, often referred to as land grabbing. Land grabbing can be defined as the control of land – whether through ownership, lease, concession, contracts, quotas, or general power – for purposes of speculation, extraction, resource control or commodification. (Ecoruralis 2016)
Land grabbing is a violation of human rights by threatening access to food and livelihoods. The new land proprietors often favor profitable export of their crops or minerals over feeding the hungry. Peasant farmers lose access to their land and thus their income and nutrition. The environmental health of the land is compromised as industrial forms of agriculture are implemented.
CIDSE is supporting the resistance of land grabbing in Africa, by connecting church actors with social movements and organising spaces for exchange. In 2015, CIDSE contributed to the organisation of a Pan-African Conference on Land Grabbing and Just Governance in Kenya, which brought together church and non-church actors to exchange knowledge and strategies on land grabbing, resulting in the establishment of a permanent platform called “Our land is our life” for these purposes. A similar conference was organised again in 2017 in Abidjan. The reflection and discussion on land grabbing from the perspective of Laudato Si’ and Catholic Church social teachings that began at the conference in Abidjan was then concretized in a paper on the theology of land grabbing to facilitate the opening of a concrete dialogue on land issues with church actors.
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