Investment in Land and Agriculture

From a sustainable development perspective, large-scale international investments in agriculture provide many of the same opportunities and challenges as investments in the extractives industries. However, agricultural and land-based investments also raise unique — and often polarizing — issues. To help address these issues, CCSI focuses on conducting solid research, developing accessible resources and tools, convening nuanced dialogue, and providing useful trainings and requested support.

Our Activities and Projects

+ Coordinating Multi-Stakeholder and Expert Dialogue

  • Negotiation Support to Resource Rich, Low-and Middle Income Countries
    CCSI has launched a series of meetings of negotiation support providers to create a forum to discuss common challenges and opportunities and to facilitate greater coordination among support providers. The overall objective of these meetings is to improve the availability, accessibility and quality of technical assistance and trainings for host governments at all stages of preparing for, negotiating and implementing large-scale deals.
  • Comparing Lessons Learned for Extractive Industry Investments and Large Land-Based Agricultural Investments
    CCSI has brought together stakeholders to explore good governance initiatives for extractive industry investments and large land-based agricultural investments -- in particular, whether, and if so, why, certain good governance efforts may be more advanced in one sector than in the other, and what could be done to further advance governance initiatives in both sectors.
  • Columbia International Investment Conference
    Since 2006, CCSI has hosted an annual Columbia International Investment Conference. These annual conferences bring together numerous stakeholders including high-level government officials, corporate executives, investors, academics, and civil society for forward-looking policy discussions of critical issues in international investment for sustainable development. A list of the past Conferences, with links to the programs and materials,... read more
  • Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on International Investment in Agriculture
    Difficult issues require strong dialogue. Increased opportunities for cross-disciplinary discussions among researchers and professionals working on issues related to agricultural investment facilitate efforts to contextualize work and sharpen evidence-based policy proposals. To encourage cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration, CCSI has co-hosted a series of working group discussions at the Earth Institute on investment in agriculture as viewed through different lenses, including productivity, sustainability, risks, and rights. CCSI is now working to expand this dialogue to other groups and through other avenues.
  • Ad-hoc events
    CCSI regularly hosts speakers, roundtables, workshops, and events on a variety of related topics.

+ Policy and Advisory

+ Research

  • Addressing Legal Support Gaps Around Land-Based Investment
    CCSI is working to identify and advance concrete steps that can help address legal support gaps in the context of large-scale land-based investment. Such investment presents significant challenges for governments, communities, investors, and other stakeholders. While these challenges are often distinct, one commonality is the need for better and more accessible legal support. For example,... read more
  • Transparency in Land-Based Investment
    Large-scale investments in agriculture and forestry hold diverse and far-reaching implications. Despite their significance, these investments are often negotiated and approved behind closed doors, and governed by contracts that are difficult to access and understand. This status quo is particularly concerning in countries where land contracts play a pivotal role in allocating risks and determining... read more
  • Land Grievances, Human Rights, and Investor Protections
    This project examines the legal frameworks governing what governments can do to address and remedy land-related grievances after investment concessions have been awarded.
  • Employment from Mining and Investments in Land for Agriculture
    The employment potential of investments in extractive industry projects and land acquisitions for agriculture is often touted both by governments and by companies in support of investor-friendly policies and large-scale investments in natural resources. CCSI is examining how job numbers are calculated, which factors influence job creation, and the quality and sustainability of these jobs, as well as whether job creation generated from these investments is net positive.
  • Infrastructure Investments Tied to Large-Scale Agriculture Projects
    Infrastructure development is often cited as one of the primary benefits of foreign direct investment in large-scale agricultural projects. Yet it is hard to find specific information on the most common types of infrastructure linkages, or how beneficial such linkages are for communities and host governments. CCSI is examining various strategies used to leverage large-scale... read more
  • Developing a Model for a Multi-Stakeholder Human Rights Impact Assessment
    CCSI is collaborating with the Sciences Po Law School Clinic and the Danish Institute for Human Rights to develop and test a practical model for a comprehensive multi-stakeholder human rights impact assessment (MS HRIA) of private sector investment projects. HRIAs have become increasingly prominent in recent years, particularly as companies focus on conducting human rights... read more

+ Resources and Tools

  • Directory of Community Guidance on Agreements Relating to Agriculture or Forestry Investments
    While there are a number of existing resources that can assist communities and their advocates in their interactions with investors over land—from negotiating better agreements with investors, to monitoring whether investors fulfill the terms of their agreements—these resources are not always easy to find. CCSI has created a detailed Google document that lists relevant guides and other documents, provides links to the original documents, and includes brief descriptions of their content.
  • OpenLandContracts.org: A Database of Publicly Available Land, Agriculture and Forestry Contracts
    OpenLandContracts.org In October 2015, CCSI launched OpenLandContracts.org, an online, searchable and user-friendly database of publicly available contracts for commercial agriculture or forestry operations from around the world. Users of the website can search contracts by different categories; view summaries of key social, human rights, environmental, fiscal, and operational provisions; compare certain provisions across contracts; and download full contracts. Why a repository of... read more
  • Support for Host Country Governments in the Planning, Preparation for, Negotiation, Implementation, and Monitoring of Large-Scale Investments
    CCSI created a Negotiation Support Portal designed to improve the accessibility of technical assistance and of useful tools and resources to assist host governments planning, preparing for, negotiating, monitoring, and implementing large-scale investments in the extractive industries, land and agriculture, and infrastructure sectors, and to facilitate coordination among support providers and host governments.
  • Tool to Assess the Human Rights and Environmental Implications of Land Contracts
    Based on our pro bono support in analyzing land contracts for their human rights and environmental implications, CCSI is developing a tool to assist stakeholders in conducting their own assessments. This tool will explain the main human rights or environmental issues that may be implicated by the underlying deals, note whether the issues are likely... read more
  • Policy Briefs, Guides and Other Publications
    CCSI produces a number of policy briefs, guides and other publications that are useful resources on topics of extractive industries, land and agriculture, and investment law and policy.

+ Teaching and Curriculum Development

  • Executive Training on Sustainable Investments in Agriculture
    The program provides an interdisciplinary approach to addressing the challenges and opportunities of agricultural investments. The program is designed to equip participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to address some of the key challenges posed by international investments in agriculture, and to encourage a rich dialogue about practices from around the globe.