The researchers also provide an overview of the legal and fiscal policies that govern investors and their use of lands, demonstrating that the laws are being interpreted so they benefit investors, with detriment to both the environment and the rights and livelihoods of the people who inhabit the lands.
While all the countries covered in the study have environmental licensing regulations on paper that require environmental impact studies (EIS), Florez said, relevant laws have been weakened, and there is little technical expertise and too few human resources to properly control the rapidly expanding extractive industries in the region.
In the long-run, the lack of concern for tenure rights could affect the financial health of investors as well as the livelihoods of those who live on the land, according to another recent report commissioned by the non-profit Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).
In The Financial Risks of Insecure Land Tenure: An Investment View, authors looked at companies involved in land acquisitions worldwide, revealing "an astonishing amount of financial damage." Investors faced massive increases in operating costsas much as 29 times above a normal baseline scenario, in some cases having to abandon their operations because they had failed to recognize customary or local land rights.
"Examples from around the globe are showing that these new pressures -- of mining, infrastructure, agribusiness, oil palm and biofuels are happening simultaneously making it tremendously challenging for local people to defend themselves," said Andy White, Coordinator of RRI. "But the risks don't lie just with the communities and their defenders. Faced with the inevitable reaction from communities whose land has been sold out from under them, a growing number of investors have lost millions."
|Contact: Coimbra Sirica