Jann Lay on taking stock of the global land rush: Few development benefits, many human and environmental risks (Land Matrix Analytical Report III)

WIDER Seminar Series

Jann Lay on taking stock of the global land rush: few development benefits, many human and environmental risks (Land Matrix Analytical Report III)

Jann Lay presents at the WIDER Seminar Series on 13 October.


More than 10 years after the surge of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) by international investors for agricultural production, the Land Matrix Initiative has recorded land deals with a staggering total contract size of 30 million hectares by 2021. In our third Analytical Report, the Land Matrix takes stock on the wide-ranging impacts of these land acquisitions on people, livelihoods, land tenure and the environment. The conclusions of the report are sobering, in part alarming. The non-consensual and uncompensated loss of land experienced by local communities often comes with only little socio-economic benefits – be they employment, newly introduced technologies, or infrastructure. Besides economic woes, LSLAs continue to destroy rainforests, natural habitats, and biodiversity. The report clearly shows the urgent need to rethink LSLAs and transform current practices into responsible and sustainable contributions to economic and social development.

Authors: Jann Lay, Ward Anseeuw, Sandra Eckert, Insa Flachsbarth, Christoph Kubitza, Kerstin Nolte, and Markus Giger (forthcoming September 2021)

About the speaker

Jann Lay is Head of the Research Programme “Globalization and Development” at the GIGA German Institute for Global and Area Studies, Hamburg. As adjunct professor, he also teaches development economics at the University of Goettingen. His work is on various facets of economic development in the Global South, in particular in Africa, including on foreign investment and global value chains, employment and labour markets as well as issues related to energy, climate and development.

He has published articles in internationally renowned development economics, political science and general science journals. He is an experienced policy advisor and has worked as a consultant for various multilateral organisations and the German Development Cooperation. For example, he was member of the “European Expert Network on International Cooperation and Development” of the European Commission (2016-2020) and co-chair of the T20 task force on the Agenda 2030 (in 2017).

He serves on the Steering Committee of the Land Matrix Initiative (www.landmatrix.org). He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Goettingen and has previously worked at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases the latest research on key topics in development economics. It provides a forum for senior and early-career researchers, both inhouse and external, to present recent and ongoing work related to UNU-WIDER’s current work programme.

In addition to providing a forum for both academic debate and training, the series presents an opportunity for policy makers and others interested in development to learn about the latest research methods and findings.

In autumn 2021, the Seminar Series events take place on Wednesdays from 16:00–17:00. All those interested are invited to register and attend via Zoom.