A modern-day land grab disguised as climate action

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Photo: Unsplash

The Global South: A Playground for Corporate Gain

Have you ever heard of the term ‘climate grabbing’?

In order to develop offsetting projects (e.g. under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement), a troubling practice has emerged: multinational companies appropriating vast tracts of land in the Global South to generate profits with the commodification of ecological commons (Hunsberger et al. 2017 & Franco & Borras 2019). Enterprises, predominantly from affluent nations, descend upon the Global South, striking deals with state actors to lease or buy land under the banner of preserving ecosystems and curbing emissions (Parola 2020). 

While touted as a step towards environmental stewardship, these deals often trample upon the rights and needs of local communities residing on these lands, perpetuating a neocolonial narrative of exploitation. Academics, governments, international bodies and civil society organizations must come together to establish stringent regulations and policies that create ethical oversight and prioritize justice, equity and human rights over corporate profits.

Exploitation Unmasked: The Disregard for Local Rights

In the scramble for Africa’s forest carbon, Blue Carbon LLC, a newly founded company, headed by Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, a member of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, takes the lead. In the past months, the company has signed declarations of intent with state actors of countries like Tanzania, Zambia, Liberia and Zimbabwe for the development of carbon projects on millions of hectares of land. Multiple news reports (Mongabay, REDD-Monitor, NZZ) suspect that in the pursuit of ecosystem services, such as the carbon storage potential of forests, fundamental rights of the local people are disregarded. 

Local communities, deeply connected to the land for generations, are often excluded from decision-making processes that profoundly impact their lives. The land deals are shrouded in secrecy, lacking clear and enforceable guidelines to ensure the protection of local rights. This absence of accountability mechanisms allows companies to operate with impunity, turning a blind eye to the social, cultural and environmental implications of their actions. The preservation of a forest for example is often followed by regulations and prohibitions regarding the activities of villagers such as fishing, hunting, collecting firewood or medicinal plants and growing crops. In the worst case, people lose access to vital resources and experience displacement. The promised benefits of economic growth and development seldom materialize for these communities, leaving them marginalized and voiceless. Therefore, the urgent need for ethical oversight and to hold such companies accountable for their actions cannot be overstated. 

Looking Ahead: Callirius’s Vision for a Fair Future

Callirius is not just participating in the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM); we are advocating for safeguarding community interests and promoting ethical practices for projects to have a positive impact on climate, nature and society. We believe that true progress lies in empowering marginalized communities through fair partnerships, equitable benefit-sharing and free, prior and informed consent. For a sustainable future, climate change mitigation measures and international human rights cannot contradict each other. 

Join us in this journey towards a transparent, effective and inclusive VCM. Together, we can make a significant difference.

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