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Updated on 30 March 2023

Land investments encompass a wide range of activity such as forestry, agriculture for both food and non-food commodities, extractive projects including mining, industrial activities such as energy sector developments and the use of Special Economic Zones, urban infrastructure, tourism, and conservation projects. Incoming foreign direct investment (FDI) can bring capital, jobs, technology and knowledge transfer, and infrastructure development. For some low-income but resource-rich countries, resource development is seen as an important component of national strategies for economic growth.

While there is a continued focus on resource extraction in many countries, such as through timber extraction or mining, a shift to a low-carbon future may require new types of land investments. In some areas, communities located near potential land investments may also be interested in the potential benefits that such projects can bring. There may be labour opportunities, although the number of jobs created is sometimes much lower than expected, with those available paying low salaries. However, evidence also highlights the risks associated with land investments, including land conflict and dispossession, with far-reaching impacts on livelihoods, culture and social identity. Research on a wave of agribusiness plantation deals over the past 15 years has highlighted these problems.

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