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Michel Merlet is a member of AGTER, a France-based association that seeks to contribute to improving the governance on land, water and natural resources. The association was born five years ago to promote proposals and ideas for new policies to confront the big global challenges around land and natural resources management around the world.
Real World Radio interviewed Merlet during the civil society organization’s consultation on land tenure of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, held in Rome, Italy. He said that the work of AGTER on this area has been faced with big challenges, and considered that the FAO’s initiative to promote a global discussion around the Voluntary Guidelines on land tenure is good to be able to have a widespread debate about crucial aspects.
About the specific process that was taking place in Rome, he said that one of the conclusions that was coming out of that process was the need to go beyond the voluntary guidelines, and that “it is not enough to have a manual for the countries to make good decisions”.
“There will have to be a global correlation of forces, so that changes can be made, especially through a global legal system that is not only voluntary, so that the decisions that endanger the survival of human kind can be punished by an international tribunal”.
He added “unless we do this now, a lot of time will go by and the current processes of land concentration and accumulation – tens of million hectares of land that used to belong to indigenous communities are now in the hands of big corporations- will have irreversible consequences. So we cannot wait until all the countries will be willing to do ’good’ policies, or have ’good’ governance. We have to win this battle soon. In order to do this we will have to go beyond the voluntary guidelines”.
Merlet also referred to the economic aspect of the discussion, and said it was necessary to analyze what investment decisions are stealing the natural richness, or a form to take advantage of the lack of taxes.
“Many of these large scale productions would not exist if the people had to pay real and regular taxes that would enable them to make use only of the richness they produced and not the one taken from us”.
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