BARRY Island was one of the treasured Welsh landmarks “sold” this week - as Oxfam Cymru brought the need to tackle land grabs in developing countries to the public’s attention.
Local Oxfam volunteers and campaigners erected spoof “sold” signs on the beach, as part of Oxfam’s ongoing campaign to stop land grabs, which leave poor people in Africa, Asia and Latin America homeless and without access to the land they rely on for food to eat and to make a living.
The recent rush for land has involved an area of land the size of Wales being sold to foreign investors every 37 days in poor countries. Few of these deals have been adequately regulated or policed to prevent land grabs, meaning poor people are evicted, often violently, without consultation or compensation.
Head of Oxfam Cymru, Julian Rosser, said: “With land the size of Snowdonia National Park, another treasured corner of Wales, being sold in the world’s poorest countries every eight days, more and more poor people are at risk of having their land grabbed from beneath their feet.
“By erecting these sold signs, without warning, outside landmarks so close to our hearts, we hope to bring home to people what experiencing a land grab is like. "Land grabs often happen with no prior consultation – imagine being thrown off your land without warning and finding yourself homeless, landless, penniless and at risk of violence.”
The UK is the third biggest base for land investors, according to the latest verified data on land deals. Oxfam believes that the UK government has a responsibility to act and lead the way on the introduction of more robust international standards to improve transparency and to protect the rights of poor people affected by land grabs.
Oxfam is pressing the government to ensure land grabs are addressed at the next G8 summit, which Britain is hosting next June, and at the major hunger event taking place during the days before.
The development agency also wants the UK government to push the World Bank - with a remit to tackle global poverty and as both an investor in land and an adviser to developing countries - to temporarily freeze its agricultural investments in land.
Mr Rosser added: “The amount of land worldwide that was sold in the past decade is enough to feed a billion people.
"If the UK government is concerned about global levels of hunger, as it claims to be, then it should use the opportunity of the upcoming G8 summit to inspire global action to stop land-grabbing becoming the scandal of the 21st century.”