Land investments involve the acquisition of land and natural resources, usually by companies, for business ventures, for agriculture and other purposes. Responsible land
investments (RLI), in accordance with agreed international soft law principles, human rights and environmental principles and relevant standards, include recognition and respect for legitimate land and resource rights, so as not to create or exacerbate land conflicts and avoid land-related risks for communities, investors and governments.
Lack of consideration of land issues in investment planning can lead to significant delays and additional costs to investors, as well as negative impacts on the land rights and livelihoods of local people, leading to conflicts, reputational damage for companies and, ultimately in some cases, to failed investments. These risks are particularly acute in developing countries, notably in sub-Saharan Africa where existing land rights are not captured by official land information systems.
Policy and practical concerns to promote responsible land investment (RLI) emerged following the wave of large-scale land-based investments in agriculture that took place from the mid-2000s onwards. Soft law instruments agreed by UN member states, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders through the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), provide guiding principles on the governance of tenure rights to land and natural resources (Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible Governance of Tenure or VGGT – CFS & FAO 2012) and on responsible investment in agriculture, reflecting
human rights, labour rights and environmental sustainability concerns (CFS-RAI 2015). A key dimension is the recognition and protection of legitimate land rights – understood as rights that aren’t established and recognised socially although they may not be recognised and protected in national law.
This webinar will be introduced by Julian Quan, Professor of Land and Development Practice, University of Greenwich, UK, who recently was responsible for support and oversight of a series of DFID-supported responsible land investment pilot projects in sub-Saharan Africa.