USAID invites you to comment on its draft guide, titled Responsible Land-Based Investment: A Practical Guide for the Private Sector. This guide was developed in response to requests from the private sector for guidance on making land-based investments that are more sustainable, responsible and inclusive, and less risky. USAID seeks input from a broad range of stakeholders in order to identify concerns and opportunities to improve the document. We encourage members of civil society, the private sector, governments, academia, and other development partners, to provide feedback and help ensure the guidance is as comprehensible as possible. The deadline for providing comment is Monday, December 1.
Purpose of the Guide
Recognizing and respecting the legitimate land and resource rights of people who may be affected by an investment is central to designing and operating responsible projects.
With the recent endorsement of the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI) by the UN Committee on World Food Security, attention is now focused on the how to practically address land tenure concerns in the context of agricultural investments in emerging economies. The guide was developed for this purpose, in line with relevant elements of both the RAI and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Land Tenure, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT).
As global demand for food, biofuel, forest, and horticultural products rises, companies are investing – and will continue to invest – in countries where land appears abundant and inexpensive. With the promise of agricultural investment in developing countries come several risks for both local communities and investors; key among these risks is land tenure risk —the risk associated with acquiring rights to land. Many land-based investments take place in environments where land governance is weak and land rights are insecure or undocumented. Unclear, undocumented or contested land rights can lead to dispossession of local people and can create significant investment risks for the private sector. In addition, when a project fails to take adequate account of local land rights, it can face costly delays, work stoppages, protests, and, in some cases, violence. Investors can face legal actions and suffer financial, brand, or reputational harm. USAID’s practical guide does not endorse large-scale land acquisitions, but rather recognizes that large acquisitions do occur, and when they do, they can and should be conducted in a responsible and inclusive manner that does no harm to local communities. This document is intended to give specific, practical guidance to help companies address land tenure risks in their investments. It is hoped that the guide will also be of use to companies that source products from suppliers that may have land-based investments.