Areas Land and Agriculture
Land and Agriculture
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CCSI provides support to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) Thematic Group 10 on Good Governance of Extractive and Land Resources. This has included technical support on reports and documents during the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as in the development of potential indicators to measure progress toward the SDGs. In addition, the Center and the Thematic Network have worked together on a number of projects to identify research gaps and generate innovative solutions.
Advancing land rights are a crucial step to ensure that investments have positive rather than negative impacts for local communities. CCSI undertakes strategic activities to influence existing international legal frameworks and agendas to strengthen land rights protections, particularly for the most vulnerable of land users, and to support new actors and sectors in focusing on land rights.
CCSI assists stakeholders, researchers, and advocacy organizations by analyzing resource contracts for human rights, fiscal, sustainable development, and environmental implications.
CCSI is developing a tool to assist stakeholders in conducting their own assessments of the human rights and environmental implications of land contracts. 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 to be included in contracts, describe the relevant human rights norms or environmental standards, and provide an overview of best practices.
CCSI’s Executive Training on Sustainable Investments in Agriculture 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.
CCSI, in partnership with the Sciences Po Law School Clinic and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, has developed a collaborative approach to human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) of private sector investment projects. Although HRIAs have become increasingly prominent in recent years, one specific challenge is the frequent lack of trust between communities and companies, which often extends to distrust of HRIAs that “the other side” has initiated. A collaborative approach to HRIAs provides an avenue to jointly undertake an HRIA that is considered credible by all sides and that helps to address the power imbalances that often exist between companies and communities around private sector projects.
Around the world, project-affected communities grapple with how to access and pay for the legal support they need in the context of natural resource investments—including when they are asked to negotiate directly with investors. CCSI is conducting research to identify, assess, and help further thinking around innovative financing solutions for legal support to communities as they seek to secure and promote their rights and interests that may be affected by agriculture, forestry, and other natural resource investments.
What are the implications for individuals’ or communities’ ability to obtain redress for harms after investors or lenders have pulled out of a project, or after a project has failed? In light of the continued pressure on investors and lenders to divest from problematic projects, as well as the number of land deals that have failed altogether, CCSI is working to examine the loopholes, gaps, and unenforceable elements in laws and policies regarding redress of harms to communities when investors or funders have left a project and to develop proposed solutions for improving redress options in those circumstances.
CCSI created and manages the Negotiation Support Portal, to improve the accessibility of tools, resources and technical assistance to support host governments’ planning, preparing for, negotiating, monitoring, and implementing large-scale resource and infrastructure investments, and to facilitate coordination among support providers and host governments. In addition, 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.
What types of legal support do host governments use in the context of land investments? When negotiating land investment deals, are host governments out-lawyered and out-resourced at the negotiating table? How can legal assistance help governments to meaningfully incorporate international best practices around responsible land-based investments into individual projects? CCSI is conducting research on how host governments access legal support in the planning, negotiation, and monitoring of land investments, with a view to better understanding where legal support gaps for governments exist, and how these can be addressed by governments themselves, as well as by donors, support providers, and other international partners.
OpenLandContracts.org is the first global repository of publicly available investor-state contracts for commercial agriculture or forestry projects. 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. OpenLandContracts.org supports a number of stakeholders, and the platform is available to governments interested in developing country-specific databases.
To make investor-state contracts for land, agriculture, and forestry projects more readily available and accessible, CCSI has created a range of guides and other resources to assist users of OpenLandContracts.org and others in better understanding these agreements.
Community Development Requirements: Domestic Laws, Best Practices, and Community Development Agreements Database
CCSI has a growing portfolio of activities regarding community development requirements and community development agreements (CDAs) that includes: (i) mapping domestic legal requirements for community development in the context of mining projects; (ii) policy and research on best practices around CDAs and benefit sharing for extractive, agricultural, and forestry projects; and (iii) regularly maintained collection of publicly available community agreements relating to extractive, agricultural, and forestry projects.
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 the benefits of land-based investment, including for those affected who lack a voice in the negotiation process.
In addition to conducting research on transparency in land-based investment, CCSI continues to facilitate dialogue at this nexus through webinars, side events, and by convening multistakeholder discussions.
CCSI advocates for transparency in a number of fora. Given the important role that home states could play to encourage greater disclosure of information regarding land-based investment, CCSI has made multiple submissions to home state entities suggesting the introduction or expansion of disclosure requirements for companies.
When not designed or implemented carefully, large-scale investment in agriculture can pose risks related to human rights and land rights. These risks are most acutely felt by rights-holders, but they can also have reputational, financial or other implications for governments and investors.
CCSI is exploring how free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) and consultation processes can be integrated into investor-state contract negotiations, taking into account the practicalities of contract negotiations, to better safeguard the land rights and human rights of members of project-affected communities.
CCSI is partnering with Namati to produce a guide for communities and their advisors regarding their interactions with investors. The guidance will help in assessing whether to negotiate with investors seeking to make land investments, and, if so, issues to consider when doing so. The guidance will build off CCSI’s research on community-investor agreements tied to agricultural and forestry investments, including the collection and analysis of more than 40 community-investor agreements.
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.
Land investments generally require shifts in land use. Some shifts have detrimental climate impacts; others aim at climate mitigation. All hold the potential to also affect access to land and the rights of land users. CCSI’s work in this area focuses on the interactions between resource investments, land use, land rights and climate change, including how to apply better practices to land investments aimed at climate change mitigation.
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. Under a series of projects, CCSI is conducting research on solutions for overcoming specific obstacles; developing guidance resources; and providing workshops and other opportunities to strengthen the provision of quality legal support that promotes responsible investment outcomes.
Among the critical issues that arise from the interaction of human rights and investment law is whether and how the relatively greater access to justice provided to aggrieved investors by the international investment regime undermines access to justice for other individuals and communities, including those affected by large-scale land-based investment.
Dealing with land-based investments and the grievances that they raise can be difficult for host governments, who face a complicated landscape of legal obligations and pragmatic considerations. This project examines the different legal frameworks governing what governments can do to address and remedy land-related grievances after investment concessions have been awarded, with a specific focus on government obligations under international investment law and international human rights law.
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
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
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.
CCSI regularly hosts speakers, roundtables, workshops, and events on a variety of related topics.
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.