Members of the Global Policy Forum, Oakland Institute, WhyHunger, and other organizations wrote an open letter to President Drew Faust in response to Harvard’s participation in the “Global AgInvesting 2012” conference last week.
Excepts from the letter are below. The authors write,
We were saddened to learn of the Harvard Management Company’s participation at the “Global AgInvesting 2012” conference held in New York City on April 23-25, 2012. This conference promotes the large scale acquisition of land by foreign investors, a dangerous practice known as “land grabbing” that is leading to record levels of hunger, rising food prices and environmental degradation.
The stated purpose of the conference, targeted at institutional investors, is to help participants understand the best strategies to invest in arable land and global agricultural trade and production… This outlook ignores the fact that, wherever land acquisition by foreign investors has taken place, these “land grabs” have led to displacement, loss of livelihood and often death in the communities affected.
The letter continues,
In spite of this record, investors are flocking to get their share of the global land grab. It is deeply troubling that an institution of Harvard’s stature would join in these destructive practices. Land grabbing deals achieve profitability at the expense of the wellbeing of millions of individuals. The organizers of “Global AgInvesting 2012” make clear that arable land provides high returns on investment because it is a finite resource submitted to increasing demand… High investment yields cannot justify investment decisions that lead to serious environmental damage and human rights violations. We urge Harvard to reconsider its institutional participation in agricultural land investments and to look for more just and sustainable ways to support its important educational and research missions.
The full text of the letter is available at this link: Open Letter to President Faust re: Global AgInvesting