Land grabbing is the contentious issue of large-scale land acquisitions: the buying or leasing of large pieces of land by domestic and transnational companies, governments, and individuals.
While used broadly throughout history, land grabbing as used in the 21st century primarily refers to large-scale land acquisitions following the 2007–08 world food price crisis. Obtaining water resources is usually critical to the land acquisitions, so it has also led to an associated trend of water grabbing. By prompting food security fears within the developed world and new found economic opportunities for agricultural investors, the food price crisis caused a dramatic spike in large-scale agricultural investments, primarily foreign, in the Global South for the purpose of industrial food and biofuels production.
Although hailed by investors, economists and some developing countries as a new pathway towards agricultural development, investment in land in the 21st century has been criticized by some non-governmental organizations and commentators as having a negative impact on local communities. International law is implicated when attempting to regulate these transactions.