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Governing Land Investments: Do Governments Have Legal Support Gaps?

By: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

In the wave of efforts to encourage and support more “responsible” land investments, one aspect has been largely overlooked: are governments equipped with the legal and technical support needed to effectively negotiate and conclude investment contracts that lead to responsible outcomes?

CCSI researched how host governments access legal support in the planning, negotiation, and monitoring of land investments, with a view to better understanding where legal support gaps for governments exist, and how these can be addressed by governments themselves, as well as by donors, support providers and investors.

By scrutinizing “legal support gaps,” CCSI sought to identify possible weak links in global and national efforts to achieve more responsible land investments, as well as opportunities to encourage better practice. For example, legal support holds the potential—albeit not yet regularly realized—to be an entry point for incorporating international best practice and guidelines into negotiations and at other stages of the investment. The research also took stock of how governments are negotiating and concluding land investments in practice, to determine where additional legal support could potentially improve outcomes for governments.

The research, which included confidential interviews with host governments, technical advisors, and private sector representatives, culminated in a report, and a short briefing note, that discuss experiences and common challenges, and proposed good practices—for host governments, donors, external legal support providers, and investors—for how any legal support gaps identified can be more comprehensively addressed.