Harnessing Environmental Justice to Protect Against Land-grabbing in Cameroon

Title: Harnessing Environmental Justice to Protect Against Land-grabbing in Cameroon
Authors: Sama, Semie
Date: 2017
Abstract: I am submitting this thesis to the Faculty of Law, the University of Ottawa in fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in August 2016. The thesis examined the issue of land-grabbing through an environmental justice lens. The thesis first reviewed the concept of environmental justice and the threats that land-grabbing by powerful transnational corporations pose to subsistence communities in Africa. Additionally, this study investigated the adequacy of international guidelines to regulate against land-grabbing, including the Minimum Human Rights Principles, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure, and the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments. Using Cameroon as my case study, the study also examined the adequacy of Cameroon’s land tenure rules and environmental impact assessment (EIA) system to protect vulnerable communities against land-grabbing. Drawing on examples from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, this thesis argues that subsistence communities who failed to have their customary land rights formalized or failed to adequately participate in environmental decision-making end up dispossessed of their means of surviving and thriving. There were three key findings: first, international guidelines regulating against global land-grabbing lack the binding force to coerce host states to take the necessary action to enforce the guidelines and, hence promote responsible agricultural investments. Next, the land rights of subsistence Cameroonians are not formally recognized under Cameroon`s land tenure system, making it difficult for vulnerable populations to contest these allocations or receive compensation in the event of expropriation. Thirdly, EIA follow-up in Cameroon is driven entirely by the investor: the EIA system does not encourage a joint follow-up activity initiated by all groups of stakeholders involved in EIA. Without an independent environmental oversight body that can provide expert evaluation and monitor the Cameroon government and (agricultural) corporations, there is no guarantee that proposed mitigation measures will be translated into specific actions by Herakles Farms. Based on the evaluation results, the following recommendations are made to the Cameroon Government to promote environmental justice in communities that are vulnerable to land-grabbing: (1) formalize customary land tenure, (2) promote environmental contracting; (3) encourage sustainability assessments.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/35861
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -