Researching Transparency

Lead PI:

Unit Affiliation: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI)

Unknown start date - Ongoing
Project Type:

DESCRIPTION: Large-scale investments in agriculture and forestry hold diverse and far-reaching implications. Despite their significance, these investments are often negotiated and approved behind closed doors, and governed by contracts that are difficult to access and understand. This status quo is particularly concerning in countries where land contracts play a pivotal role in allocating risks and determining the benefits of land-based investment, including for those affected who lack a voice in the negotiation process.

An emerging consensus is increasingly evident on the need for greater transparency in land-based investment, particularly in the contracting process. To catalyze greater transparency in practice, contribute to the development of a coherent narrative on the roles of stakeholders, and ensure that greater transparency leads to positive outcomes on the ground, CCSI is conducting research on a range of topics within this issue area.

OUTCOMES: In March 2016, CCSI and the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) published Transparency in Land-Based Investment: Key Questions and Next Steps, a briefing note that examines why greater transparency is needed, what it entails, and how various stakeholders can work towards achieving it.
Also in March 2016, CCSI published Recommending Transparency in Land-Based Investment: A Summary of Relevant Guidelines and Principles. This short guide consolidates recommendations regarding transparency in land-based investment featured in guidelines and principles published by international organizations, government agencies, and multilateral or multi-stakeholder groups. The guide assists stakeholders in understanding how transparency fits in with best practices, and provides an informed starting point for further analysis.

CCSI contributed analysis of various concessions contracts to WRI’s Working Paper on Logging, Mining, and Agricultural Concessions Data Transparency: A Survey of 14 Forested Countries.

CCSI researchers wrote “Here’s the Deal“ (RICS Land Journal), addressing contract disclosure and transparency issues tied to land-based investment.
In March 2017, CCSI presented a working paper on whether and how international law requires disclosure of investor-state land contracts and the implementation of transparent contracting processes.

Also in March 2017, CCSI presented a working paper on how free, prior, and informed consent and consultation processes can be integrated into investor-state contract negotiations, taking into account the practicalities of those negotiations, to better safeguard the land rights and human rights of members of project-affected communities.