Land for Life participated in a Learning Cycle for private sector engagement and Responsible Agricultural Investment, resulting in new strategies, tools, networks, and a case study publication from Sierra Leone.
How can we ensure active engagement with the private sector and improve compliance with the RAI principles in our countries? This remains a vital question for Multi-Stakeholder Processes and our work at Land for Life. The private sector is an important actor for responsible agricultural investment (RAI) and land governance as such and yet it remains a challenge to engage with it, build meaningful relationships, and trigger behavioral and systematic change. Each country has its own complex context and circumstances, thus requiring tools and strategies that do justice to them. Additionally, it is important to share, exchange, and reflect on experiences, be they challenges or success stories.
This is why the Land for Life practitioners participated in a learning cycle on private sector engagement and RAI, organized by the LandCollaborative and facilitated by the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich.
In the cause of one year, participants co-developed and learned to implement new tools, strategies, and partnerships with the private sector in a participatory social learning approach. Here, participants are encouraged to learn from each other’s experiences and engage in creative learning activities that focus on their own context and priorities. Action strategies for engaging the private sector in each country were developed. NRI and the Land Collaborative conveners from the ILC, Welthungerhilfe and the Mekong Region Land Governance Project (MRLG) supported the process.
All materials and tools that were developed in the framework of the Learning Cycle can be accessed here and will continue to inform our work at Land for Life.
During the participation in the Learning Cycle, we were able to zoom in on good practices already taking place in our countries. One example is the Agricultural Investment Approval Process (AIAP) in Sierra Leone. A case study report was developed to document the success factors and to open it for learning and further application. Co-developed by NRI and Land for Life, it can be found here.
Sierra Leone was and is critically affected by unregulated land acquisitions by international agricultural investors. Especially between 2010 and 2015, within the global land rush, large concessions were established on community-owned land without the free, prior, and informed consent of the people whose land was used, resulting in conflicts and threatened livelihoods of local communities. In response, a structured government-led Agribusiness Approval Process (AIAP) was sought to be developed and validated by an FAO-supported thematic working group, with the participation of different government, private sector, and civil society institutions, including Land for Life.
The process did not only improve dialogue between the actors of the working group but also stimulated RAI-engagement of the private sector and led to the design of a 7-step approval process for agricultural investments that ensures community participation from the onset of an investment process. The procedure still has to be incorporated into official national policy or law but already informs good practice in responsible investment and people-centered land governance for Sierra Leone and beyond.
by Anna Schreiber