Expansion of Oil Palm Plantations in Indonesia’s Frontier: Problems of Externalities and the Future of Local and Indigenous Communities

1Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor 16115, Indonesia
2World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Washington, DC 20037, USA
Published: 29 March 2019


The expansion of oil palm plantations in Papua province, Indonesia, involves the conversion of forests, among other land types in the landscapes, which are a source of clan members’ livelihoods. The way in which this expansion occurs makes it necessary to understand the factors associated with why companies look for frontier lands and what externalities are generated during both the land acquisition and plantation development periods. Using a spatial analysis of the concession areas, along with data from household surveys of each clan from the Auyu, Mandobo, and Marind tribes who release land to companies, we find that investors are motivated to profit from timber harvested from the clearing of lands for plantations, activity that is facilitated by the local government. Land acquisition and plantation development have resulted in externalities to indigenous landowners in the form of time and money lost in a series of meetings and consultations involving clan members and traditional elders. Other externalities include the reduced welfare of people due to loss of livelihoods, and impacts on food security.

The Guidance Note of the Secretary General “The United Nations and Land and Conflict”

On Friday 15th of March 2019, the Secretary-General António Guterres endorsed the Guidance Note of the Secretary General on “The United Nations and Land and Conflict”.
This is a milestone in the journey towards a sustained and coherent engagement of the UN System on land and conflict to prevent conflict and sustain peace.
Developed under the leadership of the Global Land Tool Network and UN-Habitat in collaboration with a Core Group of UN agencies including DESA, DPPA, DPO, FAO, OHCHR, PBSO, UNDP, UNEP, UNHCR and UN-Women, the Guidance Note is significant. For the first time, a systematic review of the UN system’s engagement on land and conflict was undertaken and from this, a coherent approach to address land issues to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflicts was developed in the form of the Guidance note.
Ample evidence shows that land is one of the key root causes of conflict and underlying factors hindering recovery and sustainable peace. In many countries, conflict management and resolution are often at the heart of UN and partners’ operations and land is one of the underlying factors that, so far, has not been tackled adequately. The criticality of the land and conflict nexus is only likely to increase in the coming years with the growing pressures of climate change, population growth, food insecurity, migration and urbanization.
Recent UN reform efforts on peacebuilding and peacekeeping have called for more attention to root causes of conflicts and integration among the UN pillars of peace and security, development and human rights. The Guidance Note recognizes that land is fundamentally relevant across the three pillars and along the peace continuum from conflict prevention and resolution to peacekeeping, peacebuilding and long-term development. It also offers guiding principles and a framework for action to improve the capacity of the United Nations to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflicts by addressing land issues in a more coherent and systematic way.
The UN system will continue to gradually map and develop the capacities of the United Nations system to address land and conflict issues and to include land as part of joint conflict analyses that guide strategy development and programming at country level. There is also a commitment to further engage and support Member States on land and conflict, bilaterally and through their work in the Peacebuilding Commission and the Global Donor Working Group on Land.
Finally, with the review of SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) on the agenda of the High-Level Political Forum in July 2019, the Guidance Note will help make explicit the link between conflicts, climate risks, natural resources’ management, displacement and land.
We celebrate the UN for embracing this Note, thank GLTN Partners including UN-Habitat for their contribution to the Note and look forward to working closely with UN agencies and GLTN partners to mobilize resources and increase our joint action on land and conflict at the country, regional and global level. This will benefit millions of people directly affected by conflict every day.

World Bank Land and Poverty Conference 2019: Catalyzing Innovation

World Bank Land and Poverty Conference 2019: Catalyzing Innovation

Date: 25 Mar 2019 – 29 Mar 2019
Location: Washington, DC, the United States

The Annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference in Washington DC presents the latest research and innovations in policies and good practice on land governance around the world. The 2019 conference theme is: Catalyzing Innovation.

The Land and Poverty conference has become one of the largest international events on land governance, attracting over 1,500 participants from governments, academics, civil society, and the private sector. Please consult the video recordings, papers, and presentations from the 2018 conference and the 2017 conference.

The Netherlands is always well-represented and LANDac strongly encourages Dutch actors to attend and share state-of-the-art knowledge and practice on land governance both at home and abroad.

LANDac reported on the 2018 Conference here.

Find out more at the conference website.

This year, several of our collaborating partners are organizing events around the conference:

Interactive Event by Oxfam: Strengthening Women’s Land Rights in All Tenure Systems @ World Bank Land and Poverty Conference 2019

An interactive event by Oxfam at the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference 2019, seeking to spark dialogue and exchange on how the global land rights community can support women living on Indigenous and community lands to strengthen their land, forest and water rights.

Date: 25th March 2019
Time: 2PM – 3.30PM
Location: 1101 17th Street NW, 13th floor, Washtington, DC 20036
Guest speakers: Bina Agarwal, Sreetama Bhaya, Stephanie Keene and Naomi Shadrack.

Please RSVP by sending an e-mail to: sarah.tuckey@oxfam.org.

For more information, click here.

ILC launches LANDex @ World Bank Land and Poverty Conference 2019

LANDex, an evolution of ILC’s Dashboard, uses common indicators and methodologies to promote people-centred land governance monitoring. In preparation for its LAUNCH, we gave the Dashboard an overhaul – new name and look!


Join us at the 2019 World Bank Land & Poverty Conference for the big reveal and results of its first pilot country, Senegal.

Date: 28 Mar 2019
Time: 6.30 to 8.30 pm
Location: Meridian Institute, 1800 M Street, NW, Suite 400N – Washington, DC

For more information, click here.

The Quantifying Tenure Risk (QTR) Initiative – Assessing the Costs of Tenure Risks to Agribusinesses

The Quantifying Tenure Risk (QTR) is a joint research initiative from the ODI and TMP Systems, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development Economic Growth team in 2017 and 2018. Their aim is to provide the data and analysis that businesses need to reduce land conflict and improve land governance through better informed investment decisions.

QTR has recently published a report on Assessing the costs of tenure risks to agribusinesses, based on consultation with business operating across the African supply chain.

Tenure risk – or the risk of dispute between investors and local people over land or natural resource claims – is endemic in emerging markets. There are hundreds of recorded incidents of tenure disputes creating delays, violence, project cancellation and even bankruptcy at a corporate level. These tenure disputes create lose–lose outcomes for investors, local people and national governments while robbing emerging markets of the developmental benefits of responsible land investments. However, many investors are unaware of the problem or lack the time and resources to address it. Others lack the means to quantify the risks to business of tenure disputes.

The report shines a light on the severity of the issue, and shows that tenure disputes can create substantial financial losses. It also presents a new publicly available tool, the Tenure Risk Tool (TRT), that investors can use to assess and manage tenure risk.

Click here for more information, or here for the full report.

Let Data Speak by Submitting Your Data Story for the Land Portal’s Data Story Contest

Data scientists and those working with data in general, often struggle to communicate how and why data are essential and potentially life changing.  The word data often conjures up notions of difficult to understand numbers or facts, information that is out of reach for the general population, meant for data scientists or those carrying out work that requires a certain level of expertise. This is where we feel data stories can be of great use. Data stories provide an opportunity to reflect that data is not sterile and difficult to understand , but part of wider, participatory process.

It is with this in mind Land Portal is launching their first Data Stories Contest!

Data stories can include text, interviews, videos, infographics and maps to tell a narrative in a compelling way, based on what is deemed appropriate on a case by case basis. By telling the story behind data, Land Portal wants to empower much more people to become part of the data revolution and ensure that data does not remain just an empty statistic – but is used to invoke positive change!

We invite you to submit your story by April 30th 2019!  See bellow flyer for more details on how to submit your data story and the website for more information.

Download the flyer here

Website: https://landportal.org/news/2019/03/let-data-speak-submitting-your-data-story-land-portal%E2%80%99s-data-story-contest


SMART Political Ecologies? On the Nature and Power of Environmental Technologies and their Implications for Just Futures – 4 ECTS

The Six-day intensive PhD workshop ‘SMART Political Ecologies? On the Nature and Power of Environmental Technologies and their Implications for Just Futures’ will be held from 27 June – 3 July 2019 in Wageningen, the Netherlands.
The workshop gives motivated PhD candidates the chance to deepen their knowledge on how the field of political ecology is adapting to the contemporary era of multiplying, intensifying and proliferating environmental technologies. On the one hand, this refers to governmental technologies in the Foucauldian sense, where new techniques, politics and forms of governmental oversight, intervention and management are rapidly changing human-nature relations and access to and control over nonhuman natures. On the other hand, we have seen the rapid emergence of a host of new technologies in the material sense, driven by the Internet-of-Things, new SMART technologies, and social media platforms, among others. These technological developments and their integrated possibilities are further changing environmental governance and politics around the planet. Environmental studies and political ecology scholars have started to register these developments yet have only begun to investigate and understand their implications. The 2019 Wageningen Political Ecology Summer school focuses on these two sides of ‘environmental technologies’ and welcomes PhD candidates to join a great line-up of speakers to discuss their implications for political ecology and just futures.

GUATEMALA BLOG SERIES #7: Some land governance institutions in Guatemala and their performance

The seventh blog in our Guatemala Blog Series by Jur Schuurman is out:

It will be no surprise to the readers of this blog that the institutional environment for land governance in Guatemala has its shortcomings. In the previous instalment I wrote about a massive land fraud in the Petén department, perpetrated with active participation of staff of FONTIERRA, the fund that was created in 1997 in order to address land tenure inequality and to facilitate the access of landless labourers and small farmers to (more) land. The involvement of its personnel in illegal activities makes one less than optimistic about FONTIERRAS’ general performance, and indeed, the available literature confirms as much. In a comprehensive evaluation of rural land governance after the peace agreements of 1996,[1] the authors conclude that the results have been disappointing: FONTIERRAS’ slow bureaucracy, fundamental flaws in its setup and widespread corruption have meant that the main beneficiaries of the ‘market-assisted land reform’ that the Fund was supposed to enable were the big landowners. They could take advantage of the high demand for land by smallholders, and sold the low-quality portions of their properties, frequently overvaluing them in the process, to FONTIERRA. The ultimate consequence is the high degree of indebtedness of the buyers, who cannot produce enough to repay the loan they got from the Fund.

Read Blog #7 here!

How Far Does the European Union Reach? Foreign Land Acquisitions and the Boundaries of Political Communities

Check out the latest publication in the LANDac Special Issue in Land, an open access MDPI journal, by Torsten Menge from the Northwestern University in Qatar.

How Far Does the European Union Reach? Foreign Land Acquisitions and the Boundaries of Political Communities – Torsten Menge

The recent global surge in large-scale foreign land acquisitions marks a radical transformation of the global economic and political landscape. Since land that attracts capital often becomes the site of expulsions and displacement, it also leads to new forms of migration. In this paper, I explore this connection from the perspective of a political philosopher. I argue that changes in global land governance unsettle the congruence of political community and bounded territory that we often take for granted. As a case study, I discuss the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive as a significant driver of foreign land acquisitions. Using its global power, the European Union (EU) is effectively governing land far outside of its international borders and with it the people who live on this land or are expelled from it. As a result, EU citizens ought to consider such people fellow members of their political community. This has implications for normative debates about immigration and, in particular, for arguments that appeal to collective self-determination to justify a right of political communities to exclude newcomers. The political community to which EU citizens belong reaches far beyond the EU’s official borders.


An overview of all LANDac Special Issue papers is available on the Land website:

Programma-adviseur afdeling Internationale Ontwikkeling bij RVO

Vacature voor Programma-adviseur afdeling Internationale Ontwikkeling bij Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO)

Betere landrechten zijn cruciaal voor resultaten op verschillende ontwikkelingssamenwerkingsthema’s zoals voedselzekerheid, integraal waterbeheer, klimaatadaptatie en duurzaam bos- en grondstoffenbeheer, maar ook voor het bevorderen van inclusieve economische groei en betere vrouwenrechten. Jij zet als programma-adviseur jouw expertise in bij ons team Mondiale Vraagstukken Voedselzekerheid, Energie en Klimaat, onderdeel van de afdeling Internationale Ontwikkeling.

Ons team voert diverse programma’s uit voor de ministeries van Buitenlandse Zaken en Infrastructuur en Waterstaat. Deze programma’s richten zich op armoedebestrijding, onder andere door toegang te creëren tot energie en voedselzekerheid. Jij draagt als programma-adviseur van de faciliteit Land@Scale bij aan de realisatie van de doelstelling van het programma: het versterken van essentiële land-governancecomponenten die aantoonbaar potentie hebben om bij te dragen aan structurele veranderingen in focus- en partnerlanden.

De faciliteit werkt programmatisch en maakt het mogelijk om gevalideerde aanvragen voor technische assistentie en strategische investeringen te ondersteunen. Het Land@Scale-programma bestaat uit het versterken van essentiële componenten voor landbestuur voor mannen, vrouwen en jongeren die kunnen bijdragen aan structurele, rechtvaardige en inclusieve veranderingen in ontwikkelingslanden.

Als programma-adviseur draag je zorg voor het synthetiseren en uitdragen van resultaten en geleerde lessen. Om de impact van projecten te vergroten, faciliteer je door de inzet van middelen en het netwerk verschillende partijen zoals bedrijven, (lokale) overheden, ngo’s en kennisinstellingen. Zo draag je bij aan het formuleren van landrechtenprojecten. Ook zie je toe op een goede uitvoering van de projecten.

Je hebt intensief contact met overheidsinstanties in de betrokken landen, de ambassades, bedrijven, kennisinstellingen en ngo’s die de projecten uitvoeren. Je verdiept je in de positie van de opdrachtgever en opdrachtnemers, richt je op verbetering en onderneemt klantgerichte acties als dat nodig is. Ook bezoek je regelmatig deze landen, waar je toeziet op de uitvoering van de projecten.

  • Stand­plaats Den Haag of Utrecht
  • Contractduur 1 jaar, met optie tot verlenging
  • Uren per week 32 – 36
  • Maand­salaris €3.130 – €4.809
  • Salaris­ niveauschaal 11
  • Niveau Master / doctoraal
  • Vakgebied Sociaal  /  maatschappelijk  /  welzijn, Agrarisch, Natuur  /  milieu
  • Reageren voor 15 maart
  • Vacature­nummer RVO_20190124_11
  • Plaatsingsdatum 1 maart 2019
  • Dienst­verband Tijdelijke aanstelling voor de duur van project  /  traject  /  werkzaamheden

Voor meer informatie zie https://www.werkenvoornederland.nl/vacatures/detail/programma-adviseur-afdeling-internationale-ontwikkeling-RVO-2019-0017

Who’s got the right to water? Studium Generale with Daphina Misiedjan

How do we distribute water in a fair and sustainable way? Does nature also have the right to water? With human rights scholar Dr Daphina Misiedjan. This Studium Generale lecture is part of a Dutch series on the sustainable development goals of the UN. Met het doel voor ogen – wat is er tot nu toe eigenlijk van de duurzame doelen terechtgekomen? Daphina Misiedjan is an assistant professor at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights and researcher at the Utrecht Center for Oceans, Water and Sustainability Law (UCWOSL). She specializes in issues concerning human rights (in particular economic, social and cultural rights) and the environment. 

For more information click here.