Responsible Agricultural Investments: Rationalizing Land Grabbing

Focus on the Global South – Joseph Purugganan*

Since January 2010, global institutions like the World Bank, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have been pushing for Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment that Respects Rights, Livelihoods and Resources or RAI as a means to address growing concerns over the possible negative impact of huge acquisitions of agricultural lands on people’s rights and livelihoods.

RAI is a set of seven principles that all stakeholders (governments, investors, communities) should adhere to for investments to do no harm, be sustainable, and contribute to development. (1)

These principles include:
1. respect for land and resource rights — which entails the recognition and demarcation of land rights, setting limits on expropriation, and clear and transparent mechanisms to transfer land rights;
2. ensuring food security — making sure that investments are consistent with national agriculture and food policies and that risk and mitigation measures are put in place;
3. ensuring transparency, good governance and a proper enabling environment — better access to information, clearer and more effective incentives for investors, and appropriate business, legal and regulatory environment at par with global standards;
4. consultation and participation — linking investments to local development plans, meaningful consultation and representation, and meaningful and enforceable agreements;
5. economic viability and responsible agro-enterprise investing — adherence to high standards of business practice and ethical behaviour by investors, cost-effective processes to assess viability and monitor implementation by governments;
6. social sustainability — providing for fair compensation for displaced communities, and benefit-sharing arrangements; and
7. environmental sustainability — quantifying and measuring environmental impacts, pushing for sustainable resource use, and minimizing and mitigating the risk and magnitude of negative impacts. Continue lendo