Conflicts over land in Asia

CSR Asia launches new report on Conflicts Over Land as part of the CSR Asia/Oxfam Inclusive Business Series.

Recent years have seen a significant increase in land deals across Asia as well as increasing pressure on land for investments in extractive resources, aquaculture, biofuels, infrastructure, real estate development and, in particular, demand for agricultural land to grow food for export. The rising demand has further fuelled land investments, speculation and illegal and unethical transfer of lands, large and small.

While commercial investment in land has the potential to contribute to economic development opportunities, it is often a major source of controversy and conflict over land tenure. The recent increase in large scale land deals in Asia has benefited domestic elites as well as foreign investors. However, development opportunities have often been missed or even reversed when it comes to local communities and especially the poor, indigenous peoples, women and other vulnerable groups.

“The uneven distribution of land ownership and use means that poor people are often excluded from economic opportunities that can increase their incomes. We need to find ways of addressing the inequality that leads to unfair land deals, both large and small” says Richard Welford, Chairman of CSR Asia.

CSR Asia’s new report on Conflicts Over Land: A Role of Responsible and Inclusive Business examines the rise of “land grabs” in Asia and its impact on poor and vulnerable people in the region. The report argues that the private sector has a role to play in helping to protect the land rights of vulnerable and marginalised people and looks at how this can be achieved through more inclusive business practices.

By being part of the solution to strengthening land rights, businesses can be part of multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) aimed at protecting the poor and vulnerable. The role of smallholders and fair practices in integrating small producers in value chains is a key focus for sustainable business practices in both agriculture and aquaculture where small producers often lose out to big business over land and resource rights.

“One approach to protecting the land and natural resources of vulnerable people is to find ways to include them in the value chains of leading businesses. This will help poor smallholders and also make the supply chains more secure and productive” says Richard.

The report makes the case for proactive business engagement in respecting land rights and ensuring responsible and inclusive practices associated with land use, access to natural resources and development opportunities. It outlines key challenges, provides an overview of existing instruments that can help companies address issues related to land, and points to practical entry points for improved business practices.

The full report is available at

The paper, written by CSR Asia is part of a partnership with Oxfam on inclusive business value chains.

CSR Asia is a leading provider of advisory, research and training services on sustainable business practices in Asia. For more information visit:

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