Green Grabbing: a new appropriation of nature?

Green Grabbing: a new appropriation of nature?


The authors introduce a set of papers which collectively discuss discourses and processes surrounding the transfer of ownership, user rights, or control over land and resources to meet environmental goals such as the production of biofuels or carbon sequestration, dispossessing some of their land while contributing to increasing the accumulation of property for others. The papers were originally presented at the International Conference on Global Land Grabbing and contribute to existing debates around land grabbing by building on the concept of ‘green grabbing’, wherein the appropriation of land is justified on environmental grounds.

Research goals & methods

This paper discusses the concept of green grabbing by outlining key historical shifts in the way that nature and the environment are understood in prevalent discourses and processes, with a focus on the ‘neoliberal turn’ which they claim has led to a greater commodification of nature. It draws on existing literature on land and green grabs as well as the papers presented in the collection that it introduces. 

Conclusions & takeaways

The authors suggest that contemporary green grabs are similar in some ways to previous forms of land and resource alienation in colonial and post-colonial contexts but differ from previous forms in that there are more actors of different kinds involved who are more embedded in capitalist networks, and operate at multiple scales. They also point out that the global discourses surrounding land alienation for environmental ends such as carbon sequestration are not homogenous and can lead to differing impacts in diverse local contexts. Finally, processes of accumulation do not always lead to land alienation and communities are, at times, able to assert their rights over land. The authors recommend an expansion in the focus of academic and policy research to also study alternatives which make equitable land access a possibility.


Fairhead J, Leach M, Scoones I. Green Grabbing: a new appropriation of nature?. Journal of Peasant Studies. 2012;39(2):237 - 261. doi:10.1080/03066150.2012.671770.


  • University of Sussex