The fundamentallyflawed ‘marginal lands’ narrative: insights from the Philippines

Our main argument is thatthe narrative about the existence of available marginal lands – defined as thinly inhabited, unproductive, under-productive, under-utilized, idle lands that can be transformed into zones of production for food and biofuels to solve the world’s problem on food and energy without undermining local food needs – is fundamentally flawed. Such categorization of land hardly exists in the real world, at least not in the context of the Philippines. We argue that the ‘marginal land narrative’ is based on fundamentally flawed assumptions, using fundamentally flawed ways to identify and quantify. However, counter-narratives claiming that acquiring these lands in the context of recent land investments and global land grabbing will result in the displacement and dispossession of poor people is only partly correct. Looking at the dynamics and trajectories of land (and water) use and land property relations change in these contested spaces, we can detect diverse, multiple, dynamic and fluid – not singular and static – change trajectories.

File: Borras Franco Carranza Alano.pdf