Originally appeared at The Huffington Post.
Ecological and economic welfare are two sides of the same coin and having to choose between developing economies and societies on one hand, and protecting the environment on the other, is a false dilemma. This false dilemma is often used by private companies to dismiss civil society and local communities, mislead policy makers, and then carry on with questionable practices.
Let me explain. Sub-Saharan Africa has been the scene of a huge land grab in recent years, with overseas governments and businesses buying up or securing long-term leases on large tracts of land. Some of the deals are straightforward acquisitions but many are contentious to say the least.
According to a number of the agribusiness corporations that are investing heavily in developing vast palm oil plantations throughout Central and Western Africa their primary aim is bringing much-needed revenue to local economies, providing jobs and improving the lives of the people living there. Don’t let yourselves be fooled by this seemingly altruistic discourse: we rarely hear any mention of the millions to be made in trying to satisfy the unquenchable global thirst for palm oil. Could this be the real motivation?