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.
Open Land Contracts Mini-Grants Recipients
To support and advance innovative uses of OpenLandContracts.org and the content available through the repository, CCSI established the OpenLandContracts Mini-Grants Program. Two rounds of mini-grants have been awarded to date.
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. This interview with Samuel Nguiffo, attorney and founder of CED, describes the project.
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).
In 2018, CCSI awarded two grants of $10,000 each to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) and Green Advocates International through the OpenLandContracts.org Mini-Grants Program. In 2019, CCSI awarded Green Advocates an extension of their grant of $7,500 in further support of their project.
The grant to BHRRC supported the mapping of sugar contracts on OpenLandContracts.org to international brands and information available on BHRRC’s database regarding these brands’ supply chains. The grant also supported an analysis of the strength of certain company obligations contained in sugar contracts available on OpenLandContracts.org. This interview with Golda Benjamin, Southeast Asia Researcher and Representative at BHRRC, describes the project.
The grant and extension awarded to Green Advocates, which concluded in May 2019, supported the organization’s work to empower investment-affected communities by using OpenLandContracts.org to raise awareness and understanding of the terms of land contracts. This interview with Francis Colee and Simpson Snoh of Green Advocates describes the project.