OpenLandContracts.org: A Database of Publicly Available Land, Agriculture and Forestry Contracts

OpenLandContracts.org

OLC

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.

Who will benefit? OpenLandContracts.org supports a number of stakeholders:
• 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 joint project of CCSI and the World Bank, and an expansion of ResourceContracts.org, a database of publicly available oil, gas and mining contracts, developed by CCSI, the World Bank, and the Natural Resource Governance Institute.

OpenLandContracts Mini-Grants Program: Application Deadline Extended to April 7

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) is pleased to offer two grants of $10,000 each for innovative uses of www.OpenLandContracts.org, the world’s first 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.

OpenLandContracts.org was launched in October 2015 to promote greater transparency of land-based investments, facilitate a better understanding of the contracts that govern them, and provide useful tools for governments, communities, companies, and other stakeholders. The repository provides the full text of contracts, as well as plain language summaries of each contract’s key social, environmental, human rights, fiscal, and operational terms. By early 2016, OpenLandContracts.org will host more than 100 contracts from around the world, as well as associated documents and other resources that help users understand and assess such contracts. More information can be found on our website: http://www.openlandcontracts.org/about.

For this mini-grants program, we seek proposals for projects that make use of OpenLandContracts.org to promote more sustainable land-based investments, support different stakeholders in understanding investments and their implications, or provide new insight into such investments. For further information, please see the Program Announcement & Guidelines, and the Application Form, both available for download.

Applications must be submitted via email or sent in hard copy format by regular mail. Please note that applications must be received by CCSI on or before April 7, 2016 (this deadline has been extended from the original deadline of March 31)Applications and project proposals must be submitted in English or French.

For further information about the OpenLandContracts.org Mini Grants Program, please contact:

Jesse Coleman

jcoleman@law.columbia.edu

+1 (646) 628 0098