This report details practical lessons on how to approach responsible land based investments in agriculture, derived from the experiences of LEGEND challenge fund projects and other pilots in Africa.
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.
This paper presents eight practical lessons on cross-cutting issues in land investment derived from a series of pilot projects that took place from 2016–2019 in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. These pilots, supported by the UK’s Department for International development (DFID) and USAID, sought to (i) test how private companies and civil society organisation (CSOs) could collaborate in the implementation of agribusiness investments, and (ii) develop innovative tools and approaches that could be adopted and implemented at greater scale.
The pilots reviewed here have had numerous positive outcomes, including significant increases in tenure security for community members, reduction of land-related conflicts, improved relations between project-affected people and companies, and in various cases, rapid creation of new economic opportunities and community organisational capacity, and significant benefits for women. In setting out the key lessons, the paper makes suggestions for how these benefits might be realised at greater scale, without reliance on providing recurrent donor funding for specific company and civil society partnerships.
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The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich is a unique multi-disciplinary centre of excellence. We have an established reputation for delivering high quality research, advice, teaching and training in support of global food security, sustainable development and poverty reduction.
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) is the UK's leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues.
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