We are entering a new and even more dangerous stage of the global land rush," Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International's executive director, said. "Land contracts are being signed and projects are breaking ground without the full consent of communities living there. Conditions are ripe for increasing conflict."
Last year, 185 land rights activists were killed in 16 countries surveyed in a report by campaign group Global Witness.
International land deals, often for giant agriculture projects, now cover an area the size of Germany and a growing share are getting up and running, fuelling fears that local residents will be displaced, the anti-poverty group Oxfam said.
More than 1,500 large-scale land deals have been signed in the last 16 years with many covering areas populated by communities who don't have formal title deeds to the territory. Most large-scale land deals happen in Africa or South East Asia, but investments are also taking place in Eastern Europe, the United States, Latin America and other regions. About half of the signed land investment deals cover territory claimed by indigenous groups or local residents. Less than half of the deals involved prior consultations with residents, while only 14 percent of the agreements took place with informed consent from local land users, Oxfam adviser Luca Miggiano explained. "This isn't happening and millions of people are being displaced."