What are large-scale land-based investments? Why are they sometimes promoted as beneficial for economic development, and sometimes vilified as land grabs that negatively affect human rights? What is really happening on the ground, how do investments affect and interact with land tenure governance, and what can be done to ensure more equitable results in the future?
This joint presentation by Michael Lufkin of Landesa and Kaitlin Cordes of the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, hosted by Columbia Law School’s Social Justice Initiatives, provided a brief overview of large-scale land-based investments and their alternatives, as well as an assessment of their actual and potential human rights implications. It then focused on some of the specific challenges that the stakeholders involved in commercial agricultural investment – communities, investors, and government – confront, and identified some practical recommendations, innovative practices and concrete tools that may facilitate more equitable and socially responsible investment outcomes.
About the speakers:
Kaitlin Cordes leads the land and agriculture work at the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, which is a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute. She has worked on human rights and sustainable development related to the global food system in a number of capacities, including as an advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and a fellow at Human Rights Watch.
Michael Lufkin is an attorney and land tenure specialist with 15 years of experience working in the environmental law and land policy fields. Mr. Lufkin has expertise in land tenure policy, legal and regulatory reform; customary land rights; land titling and registration; land investments and market development; land-related institutional capacity building, and project management. Mr. Lufkin has also served as a legal advisor to the Government of Kenya, on the development of three foundational pieces of land legislation mandated under the new Kenyan Constitution, the Land Act, Land Registration Act, and the National Land Commission Act.