The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University dedicated to the study, practice and discussion of sustainable international investment. As a partner in DFID’s LEGEND program, CCSI has created tools and conducted a suite of practice-focused research concerning the following topics as they relate to large-scale land-based investments in the global south.
OpenLandContracts.org. the focus of DFID’s support, is a repository of publicly available investment contracts for land, agriculture, forestry, and certain renewable energy projects. It benefits a wide variety of actors by making these technical documents easier to access and understand. Companies can use it for due diligence regarding potential concessions. OpenLandContracts.org can also facilitate alignment with international transparency best practices by providing a centralized platform for contract disclosure. Other activities supported by LEGEND funding include:
Addressing Legal Support Gaps. Governments, communities and investors all need better and more accessible legal and technical support. CCSI analyzed host governments’ support gaps, and prepared a primer investment contract negotiations for government lawyers and those in private practice. In partnership with Namati, CCSI has prepared guides for communities interacting and negotiating with investors, and taken steps to advance innovative financing solutions for legal and technical support to communities.
Access to Justice. CCSI is investigating how international investment agreements and investor-state dispute settlements, create or exacerbate barriers to effective remedy for individuals and communities, including those affected by large-scale land-based investment, while offering unique means of access to remedy for foreign investors.
Tenure-related disputes increase financial risks for companies in land-dependent sectors. The “land tenure risks” that companies confront, either through direct acquisition of land or through their supply chains, are thus of great relevance for informed voting and investment decisions.
Land acquisitions and land use restrictions can have adverse impacts on communities and individuals, including physical displacement; loss of land, income or livelihood; and/or involuntary resettlement.
Over the past decade, international investments in land have come to the forefront of public debate. Some argue that investments in land, including by foreign entities, is a critical component of achieving food security.