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Conference Report: “Comparative Regionalism: State of the Art and Future Directions”

Conference Participants

Participants of the Comparative Regionalism Conference

During the first week of November, the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) had the honour to host a conference on comparative regionalism in partnership with the Research College (KFG) “The Transformative Power of Europe” at the Free University Berlin.

KFG-directors Prof. Tanja Börzel and Prof. Thomas Risse together with GovInn director Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonti and senior research fellow Dr. Frank Mattheis combined forces to bring together authors of the recently published Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism with experts in Africa. After two similar events of the KFG in Singapore and Rio de Janeiro, Pretoria constituted to third and last stop for the authors to engage in a global dialogue.

GovInn invited colleagues from various South African universities with a track record in studying regionalism but also African experts with practical experience in supporting regional integration. The different panels addressed regionalism from a variety of angles by looking at specific governance issues (e.g. the politics of regional migration), geographic specificities (e.g. what makes regionalism in Africa distinct?) and the broader connections between regionalism across the globe (e.g. how do interregional diffusion processes work?). The debates touched on a broad variety of issues of central relevance to Africa, including the gap between formal regional organisations and regionalising actors on the ground.

The debates were also informed by the current higher education crisis in South Africa. The roundtables witnessed debates about ways to address Eurocentrism in the study of regionalism, not by provincialising regionalisms but by combining the production of regional knowledge with a dialogue between sub-disciplines and theories.

Prof. Risse in action

Prof. Risse in action

GovInn and the KFG turned out to be well placed to congregate scholars from the wider field of comparative regionalism so as to collectively engage with crossing the boundaries of their disciplines and regions. Yet, as discussed in the closing roundtable, the eclecticism produces new challenges for methodological rigour, funding schemes and selection criteria of academic journals. The momentum generated by the growing number of scholars interested in the study of comparative regionalism generates many new questions and challenges for the field to take into account as it further institutionalises in research programmes and state of the art.

Conference Programme “Comparative Regionalism”
Africa remains a target as Global South ‘land rush’ moves to production

“Africa remains a target as Global South ‘land rush’ moves to production” The Conversation, 11.10.2016

This article was originally published on The Conversation

Now, almost ten years have after the term “land grabbing” first entered the popular imagination, large-scale land acquisitions remain shrouded in secrecy.

The Land Matrix Initiative aims to shine some light in the deals by providing open access to information on intended, concluded, and failed land acquisitions that have taken place since the year 2000. Over recent years, both the quality and the quantity of the data have improved considerably.

This led us to take a fresh look at the current trends in international large-scale land acquisitions.

The start of production

The Land Matrix records more than 1,000 deals covering 26.7 million hectares of contracted land, equal to about 2% of the arable land on Earth.

Most of these deals cultivate pure food crops, and crops that have multiple uses, such as oil seeds. Palm oil is the single most important crop driving large-scale land acquisitions.

Palm oil production in Côte d’Ivoire. Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters

One of the most striking things we found about land deals is their increasing rate of implementation. While speculation was discussed as one of the main drivers of the “rush for land” in earlier years, our data indicates that about 70% of the deals have now started activities on the ground.

Compared to previous figures published in 2012, the number of operational projects has almost doubled. For most deals, it takes less than three years to enter the production phase.

Development of size under contract and size under operation. Authors’ calculation based on the Land Matrix data, April 2016, Author provided

For a subset of deals – 330 out of 1000 – we are familiar with the area under production. This means we are able to look into the implementation of these deals over recent years.

The chart above shows that while the area under contract increased rapidly since 2004, (red bars), the area under production has only increased since 2011 (blue bars). Today, about 55% of the contracted area is under production.

Africa remains a target

Africa remains the most important target area of land acquisitions, with deals concluded in many countries across the continent.

Africa accounts for 42% of the deals, and 10 million hectares of land. Land acquisitions are concentrated along important rivers such as the Niger and the Senegal rivers, and in East Africa.

The second most important region is Eastern Europe, mostly due to the large average size of land per deal: 96 deals covering 5.1 million hectares of concluded deals. One single deal in Ukraine by the company UkrLandFarming covers an area of 654,000 hectares alone.

Another emerging trend is that investors from the Global South have gained in importance. Malaysia is now the leading investor country, with Singapore at number four (the USA and UK are second and third). Global South investors show a strong preference for investment in their own region.

Most investors are still based in Western Europe, and their interests in 315 concluded deals cover nearly 7.3 million hectares. Private sector investors account for more than 70% of the concluded deals. So we know that governments are not the main driver of large-scale land acquisitions.

But investors are part of complex chains, which often include state-owned entities. This means the indirect impact of governments through these entities, and also through policy and trade agreements, is likely bigger than what we can see in the data.

Increased competition

We find that land acquisitions take place in relatively highly populated areas, dominated by existing croplands. About one-third of the area acquired was formerly used for smallholder agriculture – implying an increasing competition over land use between investors and local communities.

We will only see the full impact of the deals in years to come. Positive impacts of large-scale land acquisitions generally include more local jobs and better access to infrastructure. On the negative side, loss of access to land and natural resources, increased conflict over livelihoods and greater inequality are frequent issues.

Given their increasing rate of implementation, the topic of land acquisitions remains hugely important, with many deals entering the production stages for the first time. The fact that land deals often target areas that have been used before hints at considerable socioeconomic and environmental implications for the target regions. And the more we know about these deals, the better we can understand how they will affect local people.

 

Call for applicants to the GEM-STONES PhD fellowships 2016

The European Joint Doctorate on Globalisation, Europe and Multilateralism- Sophistication of the Transnational Order, Networks, and European Strategies (GEM-STONES) is awarding up to 15 full-time 3-year PhD Fellowships dealing with the EU’s capacity to provide purposeful complex regime management on a global scale. In regional studies an open call is extended to graduates for a PhD position in International Relations and Comparative Regionalism in three programs, “Comparing Responsibility to Protect Diffusion in Regional Organisations: The EU, ECOWAS, UNASUR and the ASEAN Regional Forum”, “Comparing Overlapping Regional Security Institutions and the role of the European Union’s External Action ” and “Comparing Competing forms of Regionalism and their Impact on Regionalism”.

The deadline for applications is the 15th September 2016. Follow the links for further information regarding the fellowships available as well as application procedures and contact information. For more information on the other GEM-STONES fellowships on offer see their web page here.

 

 

The South African Land Observatory

Land governance and access to information

GovInn welcomes the opening of the South African Land Observatory (SALO), an initiative that promotes  evidence-based and inclusive decision-making over land resources in South Africa.

SALO offers people and organisations an accessible, open-data and open-source online hub for informed debate and interaction. The initiative makes user-friendly land-based information available to all stakeholders with the aim of creating an informed land community in South Africa, through facilitating access to data, information and networking. It is a one-stop help desk for the land community to debate the pressing questions of land ownership and land use in South Africa.

The platform, as it is seen now, is only a starting point. The website is participatory, populated through crowd-sourcing information for accuracy and updating by relevant stakeholder participants. We invite you to join the land community for debates, information exchange and networking for a participatory governance of land: Contribute here!

A pro-active process to introduce SALO to land stakeholders in South Africa and to engage with them in developing the land community will follow shortly.

SALO is supported by the Flemish Cooperation and hosted by the University of Pretoria, through the Postgraduate School of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation, and the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development. A small dedicated team of researchers, data and communication specialists created it and keep it constantly updated. Learn more about the South African Land Observatory 

Call for Applications: TYRLP 2016

The 2016 Tuks Young Research Leader Programme (TYRP) is open for applications!

In 2015, our very own Dr Cori Wielenga was one of the inaugural TYRLP fellows.

This programme trains fellows in advanced leadership skills and empowers them to contribute to form a community within the University of the like-minded young researchers who possess qualities that will contribute to UP becoming and leading as a research intensive University.

The programme invites applications from early career researchers including junior lecturers, lecturers, senior lecturers and research fellows (with a minimum of 2 years experience) from all disciplines, including natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, arts and the humanities.

For more information and the application form, please go to www.up.ac.za/ASLP_UP

To download the application and call, go to: http://www.up.ac.za/en/centre-for-the-advancement-of-scholarship/article/2038905/call-for-applications

Applications will close at 12pm on the 22nd of August 2016.

Debate on migration

Govinn hosts critical workshop on migration

Govinn, together with the American Political Science Association hosted a workshop on the critical issue of migration in Africa from 23-27 May, 2016, at the University of Pretoria. The workshop included in-depth dialogue sessions between academics from a diversity of disciplines, universities, countries and continents, as well as a public seminar which brought together scholars and policymakers.

Prof Loren Landau, director of the African Centre for Migration and Society, Prof Francis Nyamnjoh, from the University of Cape Town and Dr Chris Nshimbi from Govinn were some of the prominent speakers in the field that shared cutting edge information on migration in Africa today.

Questions of inclusion, exclusion, identity, policy and the free movement of people across borders was discussed and debated, with a particular focus on bringing together the micro and macro levels, allowing people’s experiences on the ground to speak to migration policy.

This workshop was sponsored by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation and the American Political Science Association.

GovInn Junior Researcher elected to ASA board

GovInn is proud to announce the election of junior researcher Ruth Murambadoro  to the prestigious Africa Studies Association (ASA) Board of Directors. Founded in 1957 the ASA is the leading organisation of African Studies in North America with its headquarters at Rutgers University, New Jersey. Ruth will serve as the Emerging Scholar Representative-elect commencing at the Fall-semester meeting of the Board.

Ruth’s work has previously been recognised by the ASA as well as African Studies Centre, Leiden. She was also a recipient of the ASA’s Presidential Fellowship in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Africa Thesis Award in the same year. As the ASA Presidential fellow she presented lectures at the University of Louisville, Kentucky and a conference paper at the 58th ASA Conference in San Diego, California. She is also a recipient of the African Pathways NIHSS-CODESRIA doctoral fellowship (2015/16) and the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa fellowship (2015).

For the full announcement follow the link here.

Analysis of the perception of the EU and of the EU’s policies abroad

The results of the study, “Analysis of the perception of the EU and of the EU’s policies abroad” have been published. The study was conducted by the PPMI (Public Policy Management Institute), NRCE (National Research Centre for Europe) and NFG-Asian Perception of the EU in partnership with TNS Global. The report aims to provide a better understanding of the perception of the EU and EU’s policies primarily in ten EU strategic partner countries. GovInn junior researcher Kirsty Agnew and GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti were invited to participate in the project.

In developing a baseline on the perception of the EU, the study also aims to improve the ability to assess the results of our future actions in the field of Public Diplomacy and beyond. Through its findings and recommendations, this study also aims at contributing to HRVP’s (High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission) efforts that will lead to the new EU Global Strategy.

This study is particularly relevant for staff in the delegations in the 10 strategic partner countries and EEAS (European External Action Service) desks covering those countries and for those involved in communication and public diplomacy activities in third countries

To access the report follow the link here

Thank you very much for being with us today!

Mandela Day at GovInn: re-discovering the University with the children’s eyes

At GovInn we believe that the university must be an open and welcoming place. That is why, to celebrate Mandela Day, we decided to invite local children and teenagers to visit the University with us. We, as well as our visitors, discovered a few gems of the campus, such as the Sci-ENZA lab, the library and its Makers laboratory, and the Camera Obscura. We ended our day with a funny -and fiercely competitive- football tournament at the Campus Sport fields.
We are looking forward to welcoming our new friends as students when they grow up!

Justice on the margins

Project Summary: This comparative research project examines justice outside of the formal state systems, on the borders between countries and during transitions in Africa. In the past few decades, increasing amounts of attention and resources have been given to national reconciliation and transitional justice, as is evident in the increased inclusion of these in mediation processes and peace agreements. There are long and difficult debates between local governments and the international community concerning what mechanisms should be adopted, as was evident in, for example, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Rwanda and more recently, the Democratic Republic of Conogo, Burundi and Zimbabwe. Yet, a lot of uncertainty remains about these processes and mechanisms, how they work and their actual contribution to peacebuilding.

This project straddles the Transboundary Governance, Security Governance and Governance of the Commons axes of GovInn and addresses three major challenges to reconciliation and transitional justice:

  • The lack of empirical research related to how particular national reconciliation and transitional justice mechanisms impact peacebuilding in local communities
  • The difficulty of balancing adherence to ‘international norms’ with the needs of local governments and communities
  • The fact that many conflicts occur across borders whereas reconciliation and transitional justice is imagined only within the nation-state.
Ruth Murambadoro undertaking fieldwork in Zimbabwe

Ruth Murambadoro undertaking fieldwork in Zimbabwe

Project Team: Cori Wielenga, Chris Nshimbi, Ruth Murambadoro, Patrick Hajayandi

Junior researchers: Anthony Bizos, Chenai Matshaka, Rebeka Gluhbegovic, Zefanias Matsimbe

Funding: CODESRIA and the University of Pretoria’s Research Development Programme

Funding period: May 2015 – July 2019

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