Foreign encroachments on poor peoples’ agricultural land reveal a discernible shift from the North-South traffic of biophysical resources toward a new and increasing South-South pattern. Overall, the convergence of bioenergy, food security and land grabbing raises myriad questions, not the least of which are those bordering on sustainable development. The bioenergy drive exposes “the extent to which capitalism externalizes its costs” through market-based environmental policies in which biophysical resources, including cropland and forests in the most impoverished regions of the world, especially Africa, are converted into “a new profit frontier” and disguised as “market environmentalism.” Current hasty attempts to legitimize land grabbing through ad hoc codes of conduct warrant careful scrutiny. They have yet to account for underlying assumptions of the land grab phenomena which, critically evaluated, represent unconscionable subsidization of the wasteful affluence and opportunistic greed of the traditional and neo-powerful by the world’s weakest.
Oguamanam, Chidi, Sustainable Development in the Era of Bioenergy and Agricultural Land Grab (January 30, 2015). International Environmental Law and the Global South (S. Alam, S. Atapattu, C.G. Gonzalez & J. Razzaque, eds., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).