Land Grabbing – Is biofuel exacerbating world hunger?

Munich, March 14th, 2011: Land grabbing, large-scale lease and purchase of land in economically weak countries, has been under fierce attack. At SusCon 2011, the economic and social impacts of land grabbing will be discussed in a thematic session with high-ranking representatives from business, politics, NGOs and the media.

Munich, March 14th, 2011

The debate on E10 is never ending. Is E10 really stopping climate change or posing other threats? Land grabbing, large-scale lease and purchase of land in economically weak countries, has been under fierce attack. While soils are used by foreign investors to cultivate energy plants, the supply situation for the local population is worsening significantly. Indeed, there is enough grain in one tank of E10 to feed 33 children. SusCon 2011 wants to take a critical look at whether such land purchases make any sense. At the sustainability conference, the economic and social impacts of land grabbing will be discussed in a thematic session with high-ranking representatives from business, politics, NGOs and the media.

SusCon together with the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) and the German Association of International Cooperation (GIZ) are inviting participants to a thematic session about “Land Grabbing or Investment in Land”. The necessity of land investments is a particular focus because developing and emerging countries often fall short of their achievable production potential. Monocultures in which energy plants are grown lead to increased use of fertilisers and pesticides. Results are enhanced pollutant levels in waters, higher nitrous oxide emissions and the extinction of rare plants and animals, for example. As early as 2009, scientific studies were speaking out against mixing biofuels, because neither sustainable climate protection nor sustainable production could be proven. Today, the critical voices are multiplying: Biofuel needs to be stopped! At least, this should be the case until there is a guarantee that social and ecological standards can be upheld.

Regulations for a win-win investment

A code of conduct, based on economic, ecological and social land deals, is therefore essential. Opportunities for energy generation via agriculture can only be seized if all groups concerned are involved. SusCon exposes investments that can be realized on a sustainable win-win basis under specific socio-economic conditions. In order to counter social injustice and set-aside land, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) developed a first paper as a reaction to large-sized land acquisition called “Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land and Other Natural Resources”. Based on international legislation, legal compliance and concrete requirements about involving the local population are an integral part. Oftentimes, poor countries undercut one another in terms of investor friendly conditions in order to attract financers. According to the World Bank, between 2008 and 2009 alone, land agreements were completed or announced with a value of 46.6 million hectares of land. Over 35 percent of the land was cultivated with plants to be used for biofuel production.

Proactive initiative is required – international conference sets course

Resource policies must combine ecological necessity with economic opportunities and social responsibility! SusCon 2011 encourages companies to implement sustainable use of resources in strategic decisions and to take responsibility. “If corporate thinking is oriented towards the objective of increased resource productivity, a substantial potential in efficiency and cost savings can be achieved in the (German) economy”, according to Dr. Norbert Röttgen, German Federal Environment Minister. On the 28th and 29th June 2011, SusCon organisers want to develop innovative solutions with high-ranking representatives from business, politics, NGOs and the media. For two days, the Nuremberg trade fair will be a hotspot to pave the way for sustainable collaborations and synergies in the green economy.

For more information and interview possibilities, contact the SusCon organisers:

Udo Censkowsky, Organic Services: +49 (0)89-82075902, u.censkowsky@organic-services.com

Bernward Geier, COLABORA: +49 (0)2245-618652, b.geier@colabora-together.de

Fritz Lietsch, forum Nachhaltig Wirtschaften: +49 (0)89-74661111, f.lietsch@eco-world.de

SusCon 2011

In 2011, the International Conference on Sustainable Business and Consumption takes place for the third time at the NürnbergMesse exhibition fair grounds. From 28 to 29 June 2011, companies, NGOs and politicians will discuss the question of the scarcity of land and water resources in particular. New business models, such as social business, innovations and concrete activities for preserving these resources will be the main focus. At SusCon 2010, around 270 representatives from 28 countries out of business, politics, NGOs and the media participated in the event. More information on the website: www.suscon.net.

Press Release: German / English