Analytical Framework for Responsible Land-Based Agricultural Investments

The following analytical framework (the “Framework”) is designed to assist investors in aligning their policies and actions with global and continental guidelines on responsible land-based investments, most notably the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) and the Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa (LSLBI). This Framework derives from a commitment made by the New Alliance and Grow Africa Leadership Council in 2014 to develop a harmonized set of operational guidelines for implementing land-based agricultural investments, building upon and harmonizing the efforts of several donors.

Many investors do not have the technical capacity to operationalize these international instruments, and this Framework offers them a due diligence and risk management resource to apply to their land-based agricultural investments. It is an effort to provide advice and highlight best practices related to structuring investments in the most responsible way possible. The Framework includes red lines that indicate in which situations investment projects should be cancelled if no benign alternatives can be found. The Framework also clearly rejects the transfer of land rights to investors involving tracts of land that exceed the amount reasonably required for the true purpose of immediately using the land for agricultural activities.

The Framework should be used throughout the life of the project, beginning with the preliminary project assessment, followed by the due diligence phase and continuing through the negotiation, agreement, operation and close-out phases. Hence, while the Framework ideally should be used from the beginning of a project, it can also be used after a project has commenced, as land tenure risks can and should be assessed well beyond the due diligence and start-up periods, especially in areas where communities have insecure land rights.

The Framework was developed by an international group of land experts and vetted through consultation with a broad array of stakeholders. The Leadership Council welcomed and recognized the Analytical Framework as a tool for investors, and agreed to assess experience with the framework in one year. See here for the joint statement issued by the Leadership Council co-conveners following the June 2015 Leadership Council meeting.