Food sovereignty: the sharp end

by | Oct 6, 2010

Next time you meet a Transition Towner who wants to tell you that everyone should localise food production, ask him / her about what happens to the following countries:

Singapore, Djibouti, Bahrain, Kuwait, Guam, Brunei, US Virgin Islands, French Polynesia, Seychelles, Northern Mariana Islands, Andorra, Maldives, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Qatar, UAE, St Lucia, Cayman Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Grenada, Malta, Kiribati, Oman, Iceland, Micronesia, Bahamas, Jordan, West Bank & Gaza, American Samoa, Solomon Islands, San Marino, Korea (Rep. of), Japan, Marshall Islands, Lebanon, New Caledonia, Mayotte, Egypt, Papua New Guinea, Netherlands Antilles, Israel, Costa Rica, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Palau

…all of which have 0.0 hectares of arable land per person, when rounded to one decimal place, according to World Bank data. (In fairness, any self-respecting Transitioner will probably argue back that with the latest permaculture techniques, they can feed a family of four on a parcel of land the size of a postage stamp – although see this post for some questions about those claims.)

More data from the same source: in 1960, the world had 0.39 hectares of arable land per capita. In 2007, the figure was 0.21 hectares – this even after the effects of massive deforestation to bring more cropland into production. Only four countries have more than 1 hectare of arable land per person: Niger (1.0), Canada (1.4), Kazakhstan (1.5) and Australia (2.1).

Data from World Bank


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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