Improving Openness and Transparency in Land-Based Investments: Goals, Challenges and Solutions

Drawing on the experiences of various stakeholders, this roundtable will focus on transparency, accountability and open government as it relates to large-scale land-based investments for agriculture and forestry.

Specific objectives of the session include:

  1. To provide an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss goals, challenges and solutions, including innovative tech platforms, regarding the promotion of greater transparency in land-based investments;

  2. To share relevant learnings, including the experiences of governments that have committed to greater transparency;

  3. To interrogate how transparency in land-based investments can support more effective stakeholder engagement and more meaningful public participation;

  4. To jointly identify ways to advance greater transparency, accountability and inclusiveness in land-based investments.

Expected outcomes:

• Inclusive and diverse discussion on how transparency in land-based investments supports more open and accountable governance;

• Identification of challenges faced, and solutions used, by stakeholders seeking to increase transparency in land-based investments, and of the tools, resources and assistance available to support such efforts;

• Concrete ideas on ways non-governmental stakeholders can build alliances with governments to promote transparency around land-based investments;

• Networking between stakeholders that enables sharing of lessons while highlighting the importance of collaboration.


Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international development (French MOFA)

Global Donor Working Group on Land

Open Contracting Partnership

World Resources Institute

Overview: Land is central to the identity, culture and livelihood of many people around the world. It provides ecosystem services crucial to human survival and development, including food, water and shelter. Sustainable land management is also crucial for climate change mitigation, as the emissions from forestry, agriculture and land use change make up over 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet a systemic lack of transparency exists around land-based investments. Such investments are often negotiated behind closed doors, without the involvement of all relevant stakeholders. In addition, land contracts, which define the relationships between stakeholders and therefore play a key role in allocating the risks and benefits of such investments, are rarely publicly disclosed.

This lack of transparency precludes relevant stakeholders (including governments, affected communities and the citizens of host states) from being informed on the process, contents and implications of land-based investments, and from effectively participating in the governance process of land as an essential public resource.

An increase in public confidence in governance is an essential step for public participation. Transparency creates a solid foundation for more informed land negotiations and land use planning, proper risk assessment and mitigation, and protection of rights at stake, while also reducing the risk of instability around land-based investments that often creates or exacerbates conflict. Transparency also enables stakeholders to monitor compliance with the conditions of investment contracts, and to hold investors and companies to account for environmental and social violations.

In accordance with the aims of the Open Government Partnership, greater transparency can help to empower citizens, fight corruption, strengthen governance and ensure that resources are sustainably managed for future generations. This roundtable will focus on these issues within the context of land-based investment, and will provide an opportunity for an informed exchange of perspectives, experiences and challenges among stakeholders seeking to realize greater transparency and more accountable governance of land-based investments. The event will also highlight various projects and tools that aim to promote increased transparency in land-based investments, including the Land Matrix and OpenLandContracts.

Format: The roundtable will bring together relevant stakeholders to share perspectives, experiences and challenges regarding the promotion of transparency in large-scale land-based investments.

• Introduction (5-6 minutes)

• Presentation/ showcase by 3-5 speakers on recent and ongoing efforts to promote greater transparency in land-based investments (5-8 minutes per speaker)

• The majority of the session will be devoted to an interactive exchange among participants (50 minutes)

Facilitators/ Speakers: The speakers will be drawn from civil society, governments, and other stakeholders. Potential speakers include:

• A representative of some or all of the co-organizers (CCSI, OCP, WRI, French MOFA and the Global Donor Working Group on Land);

• 1-2 government representatives who can discuss experience with, or commitments around, land contract transparency;

• A representative from a CSO or community association working on or advocating for increased transparency at the national level.

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