Land Grabs – What’s the Issue?

ENSHROUDED IN THE ISSUE OF LAND GRABS is the dynamics of economics, politics and worldview. There are many dimensions to consider as poor nations struggle over this issue, one of which is how developing nations can positively engage globalization?

We have to re-look the entire economics in which poor nations are subjected to. Perhaps we need to look deeper at the architecture, one that is naturally connected to people and the environment. Perhaps we need to go back to some very basic principles behind the economics. To change the economy of poor nations, we have to change the economics.

“The world is flat” as Thomas Friedman espoused in his book on the inevitability of globalization and its impact. How can we create an architecture in a seamless global economy that provides a “home” to poor nations, a home that is a refuge from a world they can’t fully control and potentially threatening and also at the same time give them a view out over the economic landscape where they can partake as equal partners, where they can view the prospects?

Over the years a group of us in Singapore have researched into this area and have created economic models that can make this a possibility. It is a different paradigm but we believe it offers a sustainable solution to the “land grab” situation faced by the nations.

The world has shrunk and we have no choice but to engage with each other but will it be for poor nations on the basis of a disguised colonialism within a global economy or one where they are recognised as resource owners and accorded the status as such, not a source of cheap resource or labor. Thomas Friedman gave us his take on the three eras of globalization in the article below. The dynamic element in both eras of globalization was countries globalizing, for imperial reasons, for resources, markets and labor. Is that going to change in Globalization 3.0? I’d like to know what you think.

Excerpts from Nayan Chanda’s interview with Tom Friedman, YaleGlobal, 18 April 2005:

I would argue that there have been three great eras of globalization. One I would call, for shorthand, Globalization 1.0. That was from about 1492 till 1800 when we saw the beginning of global arbitrage… Columbus discovers America, so basically that era shrunk the world from a size large to a size medium. The dynamic element in globalization in that era, was countries globalizing, for imperial reasons, for resources.

The second great era was 1800 till the year 2000 – it just ended. And that era shrunk the world from a size medium to a size small. And that era was really spearheaded by companies globalizing, for markets and for labor. Now I would argue Lexus and the Olive Tree was really about the tail end of that era

“Olive Tree” was nation-states, and “Lexus” was technology, and the book was about the interaction between what was new, this form of globalization that was shrinking the world from size medium to size small, and at the same time these traditional, ethnic, national issues. Now, what I discovered by visiting India in 2004 was that we’d actually entered a whole new era of globalization. And Lexus was wonderful for what it was, but it was out of date! It couldn’t tell the whole story anymore, it couldn’t explain the world, because what I really found in going to India was that we’d entered Globalization 3.0. And it’s shrinking the world from size small to size tiny, and flattening the global economic playing field at the same time.

I’ve listed a few websites that gives thought to this and the implications for the people whose lands are involved in these “land grabs”.


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