Development or Land Grabbing? What legal challenges face us in light of the 21st century Global Land Rush?

Come listen, educate and interact amongst an international recognised panel of speakers on numerous topics related to large scale land acquisitions.

There will be stalls from organisations involved in land issues, lunch, refreshments and lively debate.

Session 1: ‘General Principles of Land Grabbing – Facts and Viewpoints’ (9:30am-11:10am)
Welcome address9:30am- 9:40am
‘Framing the Land Grab Debate’ Sylvia Kay (Transnational Institute) 9:40am-10:00am
The Land grabbers’ Fred Pearce (Author and journalist) 10:00am-10:20am
‘An alternative view: is there a business case for transparency in transnational land deals?’ Dr. Reinier de Man (Sustainable Business Development) 10:20am-10:40am + Q&A
Tea and Coffee Break (Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Foyer) 11:10am-11:25am
Keynote Speaker ‘International Investment Law: Reconciling Policy and Principle’: Prof. Surya Subedi, OBE (University of Leeds) + Q&A (11:25am- 12:20pm)
Lunch – (Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Foyer) 12.20pm-1:20pm
Keynote Speaker ‘Who Owns Africa: Facts, Fictions and Fears’, Dr. Liz Alden Wily (Independent Land Tenure Specialist) + Q&A (1:20pm-2:15pm) (download the presentation)
Keynote Speaker ‘‘Land deals in Africa: What is in the Contracts?’ Dr. Lorenzo Cotula (International Institute for Environment and Development) + Q&A (2:15pm – 3:10pm)
Workshop 1: Forest policy & land rights (3:10pm – 4:10pm)
This is my forest: risks and opportunities of tenure reform under REDD+’ Mattia Fosci (University of Nottingham)
‘Green Appropriation for the Common Good – Can Property Based Forest Carbon Rights Serve Everyone’s Interests?’ Feja Lesniewska (Client Earth) + Q&A
Workshop 2: Large-scale agriculture expansion & responses in customary law (3:10pm – 4:10pm)
‘A Vicious Spiral: how interconnected global trade is accelerating a world-wide land grab’ Teresa Anderson (Gaia Foundation)
‘Law and Lore: Indigenous knowledge as protection against land grabbing’ Carine Nadal (Gaia Foundation) + Q&A
Tea and Coffee Break 4:10pm – 4:25pm
Panel Discussion chaired by Stephen Hockman, QC: ‘Influencing Land-Grabs: Practical solutions, Legal reform and Local action’ (4:25pm-6:45pm)

‘Using domestic law to challenge corporate environmental abuses abroad, with a focus on Latin America’ Sue Willman (Partner, Deighton Pierce Glynn) 4:25 pm – 4:45pm
‘Action and reform to protect customary rights – the Community Lands Initiative (iTC) in Mozambique’ Dr. Julian Quan (Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich) 4:45pm – 5:10pm
‘Does EU law ensure the sustainability of imported products like biofuels and wood?’ Dr. Wybe Douma (senior researcher T.M.C. Asser Institute for International and EU Law) 5:10pm – 5:30pm
‘Transparency Measures’ (tbc) Ruth Kelly (Oxfam) + Q&A 5:30pm – 6:20pm


Closing Remarks 6:20pm – 6:25pm


Wine Reception 6:25pm – 7:45pm

Lorenzo Cotula, Senior Researcher
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London

Lorenzo steers IIED’s work on land rights and on natural resource investment. He is involved with research and policy advocacy on large-scale land acquisitions and agricultural investments in the global South.

He works on legal frameworks and contracts for natural resource investments and legal empowerment work to secure land rights and strengthen local capacity to exercise rights within natural resource investment.

Read more about Lorenzo here

Professor Surya Subedi

University of Leeds

Professor Surya Subedi is a Professor of International Law at the University of Leeds and a Barrister of the Middle Temple. Professor Subedi was educated in law at Oxford for his doctoral degree. He is currently the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Cambodia. He was elected to the Institut de Droit International at is session in Rhodes in 2011.

Professor Subedi has published extensively on issues of international law, including most recently his book, International Investment Law: Reconciling Policy and Principle (2008). In his role as a UN special rapporteur he has produced four substantive and substantial reports (published by the United Nations) focussing on judicial, parliamentary, and electoral reform as well as on the impact of economic and other land concessions on people’s lives.

Read more about Professor Subedi here

Liz Alden-Wily

Affiliated Fellow, University of Leiden, Netherlands

Liz Alden Wily (PhD) is an independent scholar and practitioner, working mainly with international development agencies, governments, think-tanks and civil society actors towards pro-majority land and resource developments. She has been to the forefront of tenure reforms in Africa since 1990 and also works in Asia, including in Afghanistan. She is currently associated institutionally with the Leiden School of Law and the Rights and Resources Initiative, Washington, D.C. She lives in Kenya.

Read more about Liz here

Download Liz’s presentation from the PIEL Conference here

Stephen Hockman QC
Six Pump Court Chambers

Stephen Hockman QC has specialised in all forms of regulatory law for approximately the last 30 years. His particular strength lies in the breadth and varied nature of his practice. He is able to draw on his extensive experience in his specialist areas of regulatory and health & safety law, civil and commercial law, and planning and environmental law to provide a unique service in complex and high profile litigation.

His practice also encompasses in particular environmental law – making and resisting public law challenges to environmental decisions, appearing for claimants/defendants in environmental cases in the common law courts, for example nuisance, and prosecuting and defending in major pollution cases. Read more about Stephen here.

Fred Pearce

Fred Pearce is an English author and journalist based in London. He writes regularly for New Scientist and the Guardian, and is author of When The Rivers Run Dry and The Landgrabbers.

Read more about Fred here

Sue Willman,
Partner, Dieghton Pierce Gylnn Solicitors London

Sue Willman is a partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn.  Sue is involved in WildLaw UK, a group of lawyers, activists, students, academics and others committed to securing laws that are for the Earth, not against it. She is interested in promoting the link between environmental rights and human rights law, particularly in the international and climate change context.

Sue recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Colombia to investigate how UK lawyers can support Colombian NGOs tackle corporate environmental and human rights violations, as part of the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk group.

Sue Willman has recently been working on the impact of British corporations on the rights of nature in Colombia, focusing on the current struggles of the Wayuu indigenous community to prevent the diversion of the Rio Rancheria by the open cast coal mining companies. Sue is a founding Director of Colombian Caravana UK Lawyers Group.

Read more about Sue here

Feja Lesniewska,
Law & Policy Analyst, Client Earth London

Feja works at the London office of Client Earth as a Law & Policy Analyst for the Climate & Forests Programme. Feja’s work supports both Client Earth’s FLEGT-Africa and REDD Law and Policy Advocacy work.

Feja is also a Senior Teaching Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London. Her Phd thesis is on International Law and Forests: Norms, Values and Actors which includes case studies specific to China.

Read more about Feja here

Teresa Anderson
Gaia Foundation

Teresa Anderson is the International Advocacy Officer at the Gaia Foundation, based in the UK. Teresa has always had an interest in food and agriculture as an entry point to environmental, economic, political, health, and community issues. She has been working for Gaia since 2001, where she worked as international advocacy offer for the African Biodiversity Network. Read more about Teresa on the Gaia Website.

Sylvia Kay,
Researcher/Transnational Institute

Sylvia works as a researcher on a wide range of issues including land grabbing, water, and agricultural investment. She holds a BA in International Relations and Sociology from the University of Sussex and an MSc in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She currently lives in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Read more about Sylvia here

Professor Deborah James
London School of Economics

Deborah James is a Professor of Anthropology at LSE. She works specialist in the anthropology of South and Southern Africa, with a majority of her fieldwork conducted in Mpumalanga and Northern Provinces and their urban hinterland, the Witwatersrand.

Read more about Professor Deborah James here.

Mattia Fosci
University of Nottingham

Mattia is a researcher at the University of Nottingham. His research explores the emerging mechanisms to reduce tropic deforestation in the context of climate change mitigation (REDD+). In particular, it questions whether the proposed approach is likely to achieve the goals set by the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

He has previously worked with several NGOs on climate change issues and has an LLM from the University of Nottingham, and MA and BA from the University of Cagliari, Italy.

Read more about Mattia here.

Reinier de Man
Sustainable Business Development

Reinier de Man is the owner / director of ‘Sustainable Business Development’, an international consultancy, based in Leiden, The Netherlands. The focus of his consultancy work is on the organization of sustainable supply chains and partnerships for sustainability.  In 2002-2003, Reinier de Man assisted World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Unilever and partners in creating the first global multi-stakeholder commodity initiative: the  Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). He has organised many projects, for both private sector companies and international NGOs , to create sustainable supply chains for forestry products, cotton/textiles, palm oil and other commodities from agriculture and mining.  Recently, land issues have become a central focus in his work. Read more about Reinier:

Carine Nadal

Gaia Foundation

Carine Nadal is the Earth Law Support Officer at the Gaia Foundation. Carine has been working for Gaia since 2008. She is committed to the revival and practice of Earth Jurisprudence principle in law and education. Carine completed a degree and Masters in environmental law with a thesis on community participation and environmental justice. Read more about Carine on the Gaia Website.

Ruth Kelly
Oxfam, GB

Ruth Kelly is an economic policy adviser at Oxfam, working on the GROW campaign with a focus on policy recommendations to help ensure that everybody in the world has enough to eat. She works on policy responses to the causes and consequences of high and volatile food prices, specifically challenging biofuels policies and working to prevent land grabs.
Prior to joining Oxfam, Ruth worked on UN system reform with UNDP in Albania, and on trade and development at the European Commission and at Yale. She holds an LL.M in Public International Law from the University of Cambridge and an LL.B in Law and French Law from Trinity College, Dublin and Institut des Etudes Politiques (Sciences-Po), Paris. Read more about Ruth here.

Wybe Douma
Asser Institute, the Netherlands

Dr. Wybe Douma is a senior researcher at the Asser Institute, the Netherlands. Dr. Douma studied law at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) and the Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen (Germany) and wrote his Doctorate thesis on The Precautionary principle. Its application in International, European and Dutch Law.




Jon Faulkner Chair & Treasurers

Rachel Haworth Secretary

Harry Campbell Treasurers

Julia Christian Speakers Co-ordinators

Yulia Spytska Speakers Co-ordinators

Ted Okoroji Speakers Co-ordinators

Michael Lagan Publicity 

George Blacksell Publicity 

Jeevesh Augnoo Publicity 

Regina Coleva, Fredrico Esu Publicity 

Laurence Wong Fundraising

Larissa Boratti Fundraising

Birsha Ohdedar Communications & IT

Kim Bouwer Diversity & Sustainability

Tom Cripps Diversity & Sustainability

Advisory Board

Maria Adebowale, Director of Capacity Global

Dr. Jane Holder, Reader in Law, University College, London

Donald McGillivray, Lecturer at University of Kent

Phil Michaels, Legal Advisor, Friends of the Earth

Carolyn Stephens, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Ileana Papadopoulou, 2008 PIEL UK Committee Chair

Nic Vincett

Gen-Nam Chow

Carine Nadal

Ned Westaway

Jamie Kunz

David Wei

Belinda Crothers

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