OpenLandContracts.org: A Database of Publicly Available Land, Agriculture and Forestry Contracts
Live since October 2015, CCSI’s OpenLandContracts.org is an online, searchable and user-friendly database of publicly available contracts for commercial agriculture, forestry and renewable energy projects from around the world. Users of the website can search contracts and associated documents by different categories; view summaries of key social, human rights, environmental, fiscal, and operational provisions; compare certain provisions across contracts; and download full PDF versions of documents.
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. Recipients include:
- The Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement (CED). CED is an independent, environmental justice organization that provides advocacy, legal and project-based support to NGOs, local associations and Indigenous Peoples in Central Africa to combat threats from commercial development and extractive industries in forests. The mini grant supported CED’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.
- Chris Arsenault, journalist. The mini grant support Arsenault’s on-the-ground research for a series of articles and related materials concerning transparency and land investments in Cambodia. The articles include:
- The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC). The mini grant supported BHRRC’s mapping of sugar contracts on OpenLandContracts.org to international brands and to BHRRC’s database of available information on these brands’ supply chains. The mini 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.
- Green Advocates International. The mini grant supported the organization’s work to empower investment-affected communities by using OpenLandContracts.org to raise awareness and understanding of the terms of relevant land contracts. The project has continued through 2022 with engagement activities including the creation and gathering of the Liberia Civil Society Working Group on Open Land Contracts and a training workshop drawing from OpenlandContracts.org resources. This interview with Francis Colee and Simpson Snoh of Green Advocates describes the project.