OpenLandContracts.org: A Database of Publicly Available Land, Agriculture and Forestry Contracts
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 land contracts?
Large-scale land acquisitions can have serious implications for land users and local communities, as well as for host governments’ sustainable development efforts. The contracts that govern these acquisitions affect a range of issues and define the responsibilities of the governments and investors involved. The frequent lack of contract transparency, combined with limited capacity to analyze and compare agreements, can result in a critical knowledge gap. Host governments miss the opportunity to learn from other countries’ experiences. Communities are less able to hold governments and investors accountable. And investors risk entering into deals for land that has already been allocated, imperiling the investment while increasing the potential for social tension and local conflict. When contracts are available in accessible form to the general public, all parties can build a climate of stronger accountability and trust.
OpenLandContracts.org supports a number of stakeholders, including:
• communities and civil society organizations pushing for greater accountability around land transactions
• host governments seeking to negotiate with investors and monitor contract implementation
• companies researching concessions or seeking to reinforce their own commitments to transparency and openness
• media covering major investments and natural resource issues
• development practitioners advocating for more transparency in large-scale investments
In addition, the OpenLandContracts.org platform is available to governments interested in developing country-specific databases. If you are interested, please contact us.
The database is continuously updated with contracts; if you are aware of publicly available land, agriculture, or forestry contracts, we would be grateful to be notified.
OpenLandContracts.org is supported by the UK Department for International Development. It is a sister site to ResourceContracts.org, a database of publicly available oil, gas and mining contracts, developed by CCSI, the World Bank, and the Natural Resource Governance Institute.
The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) is pleased to offer two to three grants of $10,000 each for innovative uses of www.OpenLandContracts.org, the world’s first searchable online repository of publicly available commercial agriculture and forestry contracts. The grants are offered to support and advance innovative uses of the repository and of the content available through it.
For this mini-grants program, we seek proposals for projects that make use of OpenLandContracts.org to promote more sustainable investments in agriculture or forestry, support different stakeholders in understanding land-based investments and their implications, or provide new insight into such investments.
Applications must be submitted via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or sent in hard copy format by regular mail. Please note that applications must be received by CCSI on or before January 31, 2018.
For further information, please see the Program Announcement and Guidelines and the Application Form. Applications will be accepted in English or French. (Les demandes seront acceptées en anglais ou en français.) Please direct any questions about the mini-grants program to email@example.com.
Past Mini-Grants Recipients
In 2016, CCSI awarded two grants of $10,000 each to the Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement (CED) and to Chris Arsenault (Land Issues Correspondent for the Thomson Reuters Foundation) through the OpenLandContracts.org Mini-Grants Program.
The grant to CED supports the organization’s work in Cameroon on empowering communities to use information gained through contract disclosure to monitor land-based investments and to hold investors and governments accountable to their commitments around those investments.
The grant to Chris Arsenault supported on-the-ground research for a series of articles and related materials concerning transparency and land investments in Cambodia. A partial list of articles produced under this grant includes: “Cambodians push for transparency over large land deals” (available here); “‘Leopard skin’ plan helps Cambodia farmers stay on large land concessions” (available here); “Landless Cambodian farmers look to International Criminal Court for justice” (available here); and “Timeline-Land politics in Cambodia” (available here).