Land Grab, Human Rights and Ethical Concerns about Biofuels. Eighth Annual Meeting of the International Society for Environmental Ethics (ISEE) “Old World and New World Perspectives on Environmental Philosophy” - June 15th, 2011, Nijmegen, The Netherlands Session on Large Scale Land Acquisitions

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Abstrakt

Due to the food crisis of 2007-08 the demand for arable land has increased leading to large scale land acquisitions, ‘land grab’, in developing countries. Even though land grab entails positive outcomes in terms of investments in poor countries, concerns about detrimental effects have been voiced by significant actors such as the World Bank (2010) and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter (2009). They express concerns about damages to the environment and violation of basic human rights.
A significant driver motivating land grab is the promotion of biofuels (Clancy 2008). Even though biofuels are generally considered a sustainable solution, it is widely contested if they escape potential negative bad effects (Cotula et al. 2008, Borras & Franco 2010). In April 2011, The Nuffield Council on Bioethics released the report ‘Biofuels: Ethical Issues’, emphasizing that the current production scheme in biofuels should comply with a proposed ethical framework based on principles derived from human rights.
In this paper I will give an overview of the ethical arguments surrounding land grab in regard to biofuels and human rights, and finally end up in a defense of a moderately cosmopolitan and liberal human rights based approach to solving the severe problems land grabbing entails. (1), I start out defining the paradigmatic case of morally bad land grabbing driven by biofuels. I call this the ‘Food vs. Fuel-Land-Grabbing’ (FFLG) case. (2), I enquire the claim that environmental human rights are a mistaken expansion of the purview of human rights (Woods 2006). (3), I will sort out the categories of human rights particularly relevant to land grabbing driven by biofuels. This leads, (4), to sorting out the complexity and concerns for private property (negative rights) as it might be in conflict with the concern for social justice (positive rights) in land grabbing. (5) The result of the human rights analysis is then compared with the advocacy for a normative global code of conduct on land grabbing (Meinzen-Dick & Markelova 2009).
(6), I will address the more general claim that global inequality is both the cause of and answer to land grabbing and that human rights based responsible investment-approaches will only preserve the status quo of global inequality leading to bad land grabbing (Borras & Franco 2010). (7) This will open up for a discussion running in global justice theory between proponents of cosmopolitanism and thinkers who prefer that nations are determining the scope of global responsibility (Rawls 1999, Pogge 2004, Nagel 2005, Cohen & Sabel 2006, Miller 2007, de Bres 2011). The debate on land grabbing provides clear cues for a cosmopolitan approach, but it is less clear what sort of cosmopolitanism adequately answers to the concerns raised in regard to the issue. I will defend a human rights based cosmopolitanism that is adequately sensitive to the global institutional settings both existent and needed to avoid the bad effects of land grabbing driven by the demand for biofuels.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Publikationsdato15 jun. 2011
StatusUdgivet - 15 jun. 2011
Udgivet eksterntJa

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