The following guidance outlines the statements a company must be able to assert to reassure the public and markets that it is acting in a manner consistent with the VGGT. These statements reflect the Interlaken Group’s understanding of a company’s responsibilities under the VGGT. The relevant articles of the VGGT are identified for each statement, along with examples of indicators that can be used to verify each. When possible, useful resources to inform company actions are also provided. The guidance contained here begins with high-level corporate commitments to the VGGT. Requisite responsibilities4 that all companies must uphold, should they wish to act consistently with the VGGT, are then provided along five project types:
Additional statements are offered for companies that wish to set a standard of excellence by going beyond their requisite responsibilities under the VGGT. The guidance in this booklet is linked directly to the relevant articles from the VGGT. The full text of these articles may be found in Annex 6 of the Guide.
While this Guide does not provide specific guidance for all the ways a company acquires rights to land and forests, the general principles of respecting legitimate tenure rights, respecting human rights and preventing harm to the environment must be respected in all situations. Depending on the location of the project, the laws regulating land ownership and the type of crop being produced, a company may acquire a variety of use or ownership rights. We use the term “land acquisition” to refer both to outright purchase of land (i.e. freehold or fee simple) and lease. Companies can also enter into outgrower or sharecropping agreements with local communities that do not transfer land rights to the company.
Women make up the majority of the world’s smallholder farmers. They are vital to ensuring local food security. Unfortunately, their rights to land and forests are often overlooked or abused. Companies must ensure that they are taking active steps to ensure that all legitimate tenure rights are respected – not just men’s tenure rights. The following guidance puts some detail on the steps a company can take to respect women’s rights to land and forests, but the guidance should be read with a view to understanding all the rights-holders in a project area and the potential impact that a company might have on their rights.
Making a corporate-level commitment to supporting the VGGT is a first step towards improving a company’s performance on land and forest tenure rights. Supporting the VGGT also means taking actions to ensure a company’s ethical behavior related to land acquisition, land use, and corporate relationships with local communities and authorities. Article 3.2 of the VGGT specifies that “Non-state actors including business enterprises have responsibilities to respect human rights and legitimate tenure rights.” A company has a duty to fully integrate systems and safeguards to prevent any violations of human rights or legitimate tenure rights.
4 The guidance is classified as “Requisite” and “Additional” responsibilities. Requisite responsibilities are those deriving directly from the text of the VGGT referring to “non-state actors,” “other parties,” “business enterprises,” and “investors.” Additional responsibilities are those identified by the Interlaken Group as markers of excellence.
a. See Annex 1.
b. Refers to individuals who are, or have been, entrusted with prominent public functions, their family members, and close associates. Due to their influence, they are in positions that potentially can be abused for the purpose of committing such offences including corruption and bribery. http://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/ recommendations/guidance-pep-rec12-22.pdf.
c. See Annex 1.