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06-12: Dealing with the impacts of failed land acquisition
Doomed to fail? Why some land-based investment projects fail and others succeed
Leibniz University Hannover, Germany
In recent years, an increased interest in farmland globally has led to the emergence of many land-based investment projects. Although most projects enter the production stage, a significant number also end in failure. This paper asks why land-based investment projects fail or succeed. This is a crucial question, as failed investment projects are unlikely to have any positive impacts on the host regions. I find that failure occurs globally but is concentrated on the African continent, with some countries exhibiting a particularly high risk of project failure. In addition, larger projects, projects growing agrofuels, and projects targeting land formerly used by smallholders or pastoralists are more likely to fail. In contrast, projects that involve domestic investors or take place in countries with better infrastructure are less likely to fail. The findings on the impact of host-country institutions on project failure are ambiguous.
Why we need a human right to land – empirical evidence from large-scale land investment deals in Sierra Leone and the Philippines
University of Tuebingen, Germany
A human right to land has now been codified in the ‘United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas’, which has been adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018. This paper welcomes this development and argues that a human right to land can potentially close gaps in the regulation of large-scale land deals – if interpreted through the lens of the principle of free, prior and informed consent. Simultaneously, I do not deny that international public and private initiatives to regulate foreign land based investments can have positive effects for locally affected people. Through discussing under which conditions these instruments can help local actors in achieving their goals vis-à-vis investors, I show the potential as well as the gaps of the current global governance regime. My considerations are supported by empirical findings from Sierra Leone and the Philippines.
When good innovations go bad
Stratigos Consulting, United Arab Emirates
In the last decade, impact investing is a concept that has spurred innovative financing mechanisms in emerging economies. Many believe that impact investing is one sure way pool private sector funds to help solve some of the most pressing challenges facing our world today.
In many economies that are land reliant, this is good news and we have seen impressive private sector dollars in sectors like agriculture and renewable energy. But it is not all good news.
This paper discusses potential negative effects that land-reliant impact investments could have on host communities. Regardless of good intentions of innovations, sometimes these investments have the unintended consequence of exacerbating conflict, insecurity and poverty. This paper therefore advocates for a triple-bottom line approach where people, planet and profit are given equal stakes in transactions, so as to produce more responsible land-based investments.