Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
08-05: Can Community - Investor Negotiations be Fair?
Wednesday, 21/Mar/2018:
3:45pm - 5:15pm

Session Chair: Rachael Knight, Namati, United States of America
Location: MC 7-860


Supporting Communities in Their Negotiations with Investors – A View from Sierra Leone

Sonkita Conteh1, Rachael Knight2, Kaitlin Cordes3, Sam Szoke-Burke3

1Namati, Sierra Leone; 2Namati; 3CCSI

There are many benefits and risks for local communities who enter into negotiations with investors seeking community lands and natural resources for an investment. Land-based investment projects can contribute to local development, but also come with risks: they can harm community members’ livelihoods, water access and cultural traditions, and threaten the health of the local environment. Communities who are supported by advocates or legal advisors may be better placed to address power imbalances between communities and large investors. Yet minimal attention has been paid to the capacity of communities to negotiate adequate agreements. Communities must be supported to be prepared for discussions with potential investors, decide whether or not to enter into negotiations with an investor or company; and, where relevant, negotiate an equitable, just agreement with the investor or company that more likely lead to community growth and prosperity.


Can Power and Resource Asymmetries be Addressed in Community-Investor Negotiations?

Kaitlin Cordes1, Rachael Knight2, Sam Szoke-Burke1, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye1, Marena Brinkhurst2, Netsanet Tesfay1

1Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, United States of America; 2Namati, United States of America

In the calls for responsible investment over the past decade, increasing attention has been placed on the need for greater benefit-sharing with project-affected communities, including through the use of direct agreements between the investor and affected communities or their members. While communities are increasingly asked to negotiate agreements directly with investors, the ensuing negotiations generally occur within a context of significant information and power asymmetries. Such imbalances in negotiating capacity have led to community-investor agreements that are underwhelming at best, unjust at worst. This paper aims to guide communities and their advocates in their interactions with investors. It covers how communities can prepare in advance for potential interactions with investors who come seeking to use community lands and natural resources, how they can decide whether to enter into negotiations with investors for use of their land, and, where relevant, how they can negotiate an agreement with an investor.


Considering Community-Investor Negotiations Through the Lens of Political Economy and Legal Empowerment

Lorenzo Cotula

IIED, United Kingdom

Free, prior and informed consent and equitable partnerships with local communities are increasingly recognised as the foundations of any responsible natural resource-based investment. But community-investor negotiations tend to involve significant imbalances in negotiating power. Asymmetries in information, resources and influence, and time pressures affecting the negotiation process, can undermine the position of local communities as they define their preferred development pathways, exercise their rights and advance their priorities. Helping communities to harness the law, for example through greater awareness of their rights and of applicable law, or through support in negotiations, can help address these imbalances. But entrenched power relations at play both within and outside the community require granular analysis to inform the design and implementation of any support. This contribution will offer a few reflections based on insights from research and practice.

Community-Investor Interactions and Agreements – Reflections from the Private Sector Perspective

Kathryn Elizabeth Mathias

Illovo Sugar Africa Ltd, United Kingdom

to be filled

What Role for Government When Communities Enter Voluntarily Into Agreements with Investors?

Gad Asorwoe Akwensivie

Ghana Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ghana

The assertion that, power tends to be concentrated and skewed in favor of Investors during negotiation for land acquisition is not in contention. This has been established and confirmed by many studies. There is therefore a search for solutions to curing this power imbalance.

One question that is continuously asked by community members is " How can the power and information asymmetry be leveled to ensure that, contracts "we" negotiate are fair - so that communities, land and natural resource rights are protected?.

This discussion seeks to address the issues around the following:

1. How communities can be prepared for empowered negotiation

2. How to ensure equal knowledge and understanding to maintain a balance throughout the negotiation process;

3. How to ensure that contracts drafted support the long term economic prosperity of communities

4. How government both local and national can support empowered investor-community negotiations to ensure fair and win-win outcome.