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Archetypes of transnational land acquisitions: towards a generalization of case study knowledge for informed soil governance (ATLAS)

Applicant Rist Stephan
Number 161905
Funding scheme NRP 68 Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource
Research institution Zentrum für Entwicklung und Umwelt Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.01.2016 - 31.03.2018
Approved amount 183'100.00
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Keywords (10)

competing demand for soil functions; large-scale land acquisitions; processes; impacts; meta-analysis of case studies; policy and management options; social-ecological soil sustainability; transnational networks; indicators; archetypes

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Der Kauf, die Pacht und das Leasing von grossen Landflächen durch private und staatliche Investoren haben in den vergangenen Jahren starke Aufmerksamkeit erhalten. Die Zielregionen dieser Investitionen liegen meist in Ländern des Globalen Südens. Die grossflächigen Landakquisitionen haben dort Landnutzung erheblich verändert. Sie haben oft zu Konflikten zwischen Kleinbauern und den Investoren geführt und bestehende Ungleichheiten weiter verstärkt. Gegenwärtig gibt es eine unüberschaubar gewordene Zahl von Fallstudien zu den Auswirkungen der grossflächigen Landakquisitionen. Wie sieht eine Gesamtbilanz positiver und negativer Auswirkungen von solchen grossflächigen Landakquisitionen aus, wenn die grosse Anzahl von Einzelfallstudien in einer Gesamtschau betrachtet wird? Worauf sind unterschiedliche Auswirkungen zurückzuführen? Und welche Empfehlungen ergeben sich daraus für die Ressourcen- und Entwicklungspolitik? Dies sind zentrale Fragen denen dieses Forschungsprojekt nachgeht.
Lay summary
Das übergeordnete Projektziel ist es, zu einem verbesserten Verständnis über die Entstehung, die Entwicklung, die Vermeidung und die Bewältigung von Konflikten um Boden und Land bei grossflächigen Landakquisitionen beizutragen. Fruchtbare Böden erfüllen viele Funktionen, u.a. zur Produktion von Nahrungsmitteln, als Lebensraum von Mensch, Tier und Pflanzen, Speicher von Kohlenstoff und zur Regulierung des Wasserhaushalts. Landakquisitionen erhöhen die Nachfrage v.a. nach der Produktionsfunktion und verändern den Zugang zu Boden. Damit machen sie Boden zu einer zunehmend knappen und umstrittenen Ressource. Das Forschungsvorhaben verfolgt vier Detailziele. (i) Es diagnostiziert wiederkehrende Muster von positiven und negativen Effekten der Veränderungen von Bodenfunktionen bei Landakquisitionen. Es analysiert die damit verbundenen Aushandlungsprozesse sowie Möglichkeiten zur Konfliktvermeidung und -bewältigung. (ii) Darauf aufbauend entwickelt es ein Set von Indikatoren für die Nachhaltigkeit der Bodennutzung bei Landakquisitionen. (iii) Der dritte Schritt unterscheidet typische Formen der Bodennutzung bei Landakquisitionen und beurteilt ihre Nachhaltigkeit mithilfe des Indikatorensets. (iv) Schliesslich identifiziert das Projekt Politikoptionen, die in den Ursprungsländern der Investitionen (z.B. Schweiz, EU), auf internationaler Ebene (z.B. UN, bilateral) oder in Zielländern Anwendung finden können und zu einer nachhaltigeren Bodennutzung effektiv beitragen können.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext
Im Rahmen des NFP68 führt dieses Projekt eine umfassende Analyse von Konflikten und Aushandlungsprozessen um zentrale Bodenfunktionen bei grossflächigen Landakquisitionen durch. Damit leistet es einen wichtigen Beitrag, um die Nachhaltigkeit der Bodennutzung zu verstehen, zu beurteilen und politisch beeinflussen zu können.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.07.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Polycentric governance in telecoupled resource systems
Oberlack Christoph, Boillat Sébastien, Brönnimann Stefan, Gerber Jean-David, Heinimann Andreas, Ifejika Speranza Chinwe, Messerli Peter, Rist Stephan, Wiesmann Urs (2018), Polycentric governance in telecoupled resource systems, in Ecology & Society, 23(1), 16.
Sustainable livelihoods in the global land rush? Archetypes of livelihood vulnerability and sustainability potentials
Oberlack Christoph (2016), Sustainable livelihoods in the global land rush? Archetypes of livelihood vulnerability and sustainability potentials, in GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS, 41, 153-171.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Alliance Sud - Swiss Alliance of Development Organisations - Peter Niggli Switzerland (Europe)
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern (Prof. Dr. Tobias Haller) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) Switzerland (Europe)
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
International Union for Conservation of Nature -IUCN (Dr. Gonzalo Oviedo) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
International Land Coalision-ILC (Madiodio Niasse) Italy (Europe)
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies, University of Berne (Dr. Sabin Bieri) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Global Programm Food Securtiy of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Insitute of Gegraphy of the University of Geneva - Prof. Dr. Frederic Giraud Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
CIRAD (French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development) France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Bread for All (Migues Baumann) Switzerland (Europe)
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Dr. Hy Dao Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
The Graduate Institute - Prof. Dr. Marc Hufty Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (Fibl) - Dr. Paul Mäder Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Faculty of Geosciences, University of Lausanne - Prof. Dr. René Véron Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
2018 Earth System Governance Conference Talk given at a conference Archetypical strategies of community-based collective action to safeguard land access in the global land rush 05.11.2018 Utrecht, Netherlands Oberlack Christoph;
International Conference on Research for Development Talk given at a conference Governing competing claims on natural resources in telecoupled resource systems: Navigating sustainability trade-offs in the global land rush 06.09.2017 Bern, Switzerland Winiger Andrea; Oberlack Christoph; Mann Stefan; Kupferschmied Patrick; Messerli Peter; Rist Stephan;
16th Global Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) Talk given at a conference Polycentric governance in telecoupled resource systems 10.07.2017 Utrecht, Netherlands Messerli Peter; Winiger Andrea; Mann Stefan; Kupferschmied Patrick; Rist Stephan; Oberlack Christoph;
Archetype Analysis in Sustainability Research Talk given at a conference Archetype Analysis in Sustainability Research 02.05.2017 Bern, Switzerland Winiger Andrea; Kupferschmied Patrick; Oberlack Christoph; Rist Stephan;
3rd Open Science Meeting of the Global Land Programme Talk given at a conference Sustainable livelihoods in the global land rush? Archetypes of livelihood vulnerability and sustainability. 24.10.2016 Peking, China Messerli Peter; Rist Stephan; Oberlack Christoph;
European Regional Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC). Talk given at a conference Sustainable livelihoods in the global land rush 10.05.2016 Bern, Switzerland Rist Stephan; Oberlack Christoph; Messerli Peter;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
NFP68 Finale Programmkonferenz 2018 Talk 27.04.2018 Bern, Switzerland Oberlack Christoph; Rist Stephan;
Diskussion zu large scale land acquisitions (LSLA) Talk 09.10.2017 Bern, Switzerland Oberlack Christoph; Rist Stephan;
Palmölspekulation-Ist mein Bankkonto clean? Talk 14.03.2017 Bern, Switzerland Oberlack Christoph;
Diskussion Forschungsprojekte NFP68 zu large scale land acquisitions (LSLA) Talk 08.03.2017 Bern, Switzerland Oberlack Christoph; Rist Stephan;
NFP68 Programmkonferenz Talk 01.01.2016 Montreux, Switzerland Rist Stephan; Messerli Peter; Oberlack Christoph; Mann Stefan;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Stakeholder Advisory Group Workshop 20.10.2016 Bern, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Vortrag "The global land rush: insights on scale, impacts, and strategies" German-speaking Switzerland 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
160405 African Food, Agriculture, Land and Natural Resource Dynamics, in the context of global agro-food-energy system changes 01.02.2015 FACCE Joint Programming Initiative
143136 Sustainable Soil Governance and Large Scale Land Acquisitions originating in Switzerland 01.03.2013 NRP 68 Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource

Abstract

This project analyzes recurrent patterns of competing demands on soil functions in target regions of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs). It relates the four case studies that are conducted in the NRP 68 on LSLAs to a broader universe of well-documented cases. Thereby, it identifies recurrent patterns of processes, impacts, soil management systems and transnational interactions that are shared by multiple cases of LSLAs and it explicates those contextual factors which modify general insights. Such archetypes provide insights into LSLAs for those policymakers and stakeholders who find it difficult to base their decisions on single cases but are rather in need of concepts and models that are both generalizable and empirically validated.LSLAs have become a cornerstone of current transformations of agro-food-energy systems at a global scale. Because fertile soils provide key functions for stakeholders in LSLA target regions and for investor consortia alike, soils are becoming an increasingly important and contested resource. Empirical research on actor networks, processes, and impacts of LSLAs has predominantly used case study designs based on small samples. Case study methods have proven highly appropriate for developing knowledge about LSLA cases that has a high degree of contextual detail and a high internal validity for the cases researched. However, case study research based on small samples provides no information on whether and to what degree insights gained can be extrapolated to other social-ecological contexts. This hampers the ability of case-study-based research to provide evidence for those policymakers and stakeholders who demand more generic concepts and explanations regarding LSLA processes and impacts. Furthermore, the increasing body of case studies may lead to an increasingly fragmented research landscape that is characterized by a multitude of case- and discipline-specific findings but lacks significant cumulative learning beyond single studies about the multifaceted phenomenon of LSLA. This “generalization gap” in the context of case studies reflects the situation among projects on LSLAs within the NRP 68 as well as the current state of LSLA research in general. It is particularly unclear to what extent we can identify recurrent patterns of processes and impacts in local target regions as well as recurrent patterns of transnational interactions with policies in the home countries of LSLAs (e.g. Switzerland), with transnational actor networks, and with international policy arenas. Moreover, it is not well understood how LSLAs affect a variety of biophysical and socio-economic indicators of soil sustainability. This project contributes to the generalization of in-depth case study results on LSLA generated within the NRP 68 by integrating them with findings from other ongoing research projects and well-documented cases. Four specific objectives guide this project. (1) This project uses the emerging notion of archetypes and the methodology of meta-analyses of case studies (expected sample size: 25-30) to identify recurrent patterns of competing demands on soil functions and related socio-political and economic processes in LSLA target regions; it analyzes their impacts in terms of biophysical and socio-economic soil sustainability; and it identifies opportunities to alleviate, overcome, or prevent particularly harmful forms of soil conflicts in LSLA situations. (2) Likewise by means of a meta-analysis of case studies (expected sample size: 25-30), the project identifies archetypes of soil management in LSLAs and analyzes how the main systems of soil management are related to emerging soil conflicts. (3) The third step builds on the results from the archetypes analysis and specifies a set of biophysical and socio-economic indicators to assess the sustainability of soil use and soil governance in LSLA situations. This indicator set can be used as an early warning tool for soil conflicts and will underpin an expert- and literature-based assessment of the main systems of soil management identified in step 2. (4) The project identifies tailored policy and management options for sustainable and resource-efficient use of soils abroad. The close transdisciplinary interaction within the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) that has been established and running throughout Phase 1 of the NRP 68 will be continued. To ensure long-term pathways to impact after the end of NRP 68 Phase 2, the SAG will be transformed into the Roundtable on the Responsible Use of Soils Abroad (RUSA) in autumn 2017. This transdisciplinary project structure ensures that the project’s research questions address specific needs in policymaking and practice. Moreover, it enables translation of the scientific results (archetypes, indicators and expert assessment of soil management forms) into specific policy and management options for sustainable and resource-efficient use of soils abroad which are tailored to the decision-making contexts of the NRP 68, SAG, and RUSA members. The RUSA will mark the most politically visible event of this project in October 2017, where the above stakeholders will discuss principles for the responsible use of soils by Swiss corporations and organizations abroad. After the finalization of the proposed project RUSA will be carried on as platform that brings together research and non-academic stakeholders interested in issues related to LSLA. CDE will invest own time and money for making this possible.This project aims to make a strong contribution to the political and scientific debates about soils as a resource; conflicts over soil and land; and transnational LSLAs (processes, impacts; actor networks; governance arenas). The expected results in line with the above four specific objectives will be documented in three scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, one working paper, two press releases, and two policy briefs. The data will be published through the Land Matrix (www.landmatrix.org). The ATLAS project contributes to NRP 68 Research Module 2 by developing an empirically validated indicator framework for the sustainable use of soil in LSLA target regions; by assessing the social, economic, and ecological consequences of LSLAs on soil functions; by providing an early warning tool for soil conflicts; and by exploring opportunities for visualizing soil sustainability in LSLAs. The project contributes to NRP 68 Research Module 3 by developing concepts and strategies to prevent or reconcile competing claims about soil functions in LSLA contexts; by identifying policy options (e.g. fiscal, legal, or market-based instruments; compensation options) for sustainable soil use abroad; by identifying opportunities for sustainable soil management in local LSLA contexts; and by discussing options and needs for policy development in LSLA countries of origin (e.g. Switzerland) and at international levels (e.g. UN, international trade agreements). The project benefits from, and contributes to, interactions and synergies with several research projects within the NRP 68 (e.g. on various biophysical indicators of soil quality and sustainability; 3D visualization; burden balancing) and other ongoing projects funded by SNSF or SDC (e.g. r4d projects on telecoupled landscapes and food sustainability).
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