Corporate-Level Guidance

Making a corporate-level commitment to supporting the VGGT is a first step towards improving a company's performance on land tenure rights. Supporting the VGGT also means taking actions to ensure that a company's ethical behavior related to land acquisition, land use and corporate relationships with local communities and authorities.

Project-Level Guidance

Land-based investment projects appear in many shapes and sizes. They are planned to produce agricultural, forestry, and mineral products, among others. The Interlaken Group has developed guidance according to the five project types that are most likely to be initiated by a company.


Land Tenure Considerations

Land tenure cuts across many economic and social issues. Here we present a few of the key considerations that a company should internalize in order to act consistently with the intent of the VGGT.


The VGGT and Business Responsibilities

Thanks to the extensive consultation and negotiation process leading up to their endorsement in 2012, the VGGT represent generally agreed principles and standards for how states and non-state actors, such as companies and NGOs, should act to improve land and forest tenure governance. Their content is guided by an acknowledgement that tenure governance in much of the world fails to respect and protect the rights of some of the world’s poorest and most marginalized citizens. In the broadest terms, the VGGT emphasize the following priorities for states and companies:

States and companies have a responsibility to respect and protect the legitimate land and forest tenure rights held by communities and households (Articles 3.2, 4.5, 7.1, 12.4, and 12.6).

All actions by governments and companies should refrain from doing harm to local and national food security and environmental health (Article 12.12).

States should support smallholders, specifically the promotion of investment models that do not result in the transfer of tenure rights to investors (Articles 12.2 and 12.6).

Guaranteeing broad-based community consultation and participation, including provision for informing all impacted community members of their tenure rights, assisting in the development of community capacity, and provision of professional assistance in the consultation process, as might be required (Article 12.9). In the case of Indigenous Peoples, consultation and participation should include obtaining Free, Prior and Informed Consent from host communities (Articles 12.7 and 9.9).

Companies should include thorough due diligence on the tenure rights existing in areas where they plan to operate or in areas where they already operate. Included in this due diligence, companies should hire independent experts to conduct social and environmental impact assessments that include an assessment of the positive and negative impacts that the investment will have on tenure rights, food security, livelihoods, and the environment (Article 12.10).

States and companies should be held accountable for their actions that affect tenure rights and food security. Companies should take actions to prevent corruption in their business practices, especially related to the allocation of land tenure rights (Article 8.9). Providing effective monitoring and enforcement provisions, including appropriate dispute resolution and grievance mechanisms, is essential to upholding the intent of the VGGT (Articles 3.2 and 12.14).


The VGGT and other
International Instruments

While not legally binding, the VGGT rest upon international law and agreed norms regulating corporate responsibilities. The VGGT state: “These Guidelines should be interpreted and applied consistent with existing obligations under national and international law, and with due regard to voluntary commitments under applicable regional and international instruments."

Did you know?

More than 93 percent of mining, logging, hydrocarbon, and agriculture developments in tropical forested countries involve land that is already inhabited—making conflict inevitable unless tenure rights are respected.


Company Commitments to Improving Land Tenure Governance

Some of the world’s largest agribusiness companies have already made commitments to the VGGT and are working to improve land and forest tenure governance where they work.

“Cargill supports government efforts around the world to clarify land tenure and property rights, and promote good land governance as we believe this is critical to agricultural and rural development and investment, all of which contributes to stability, poverty reduction and increased food security.”

“Cargill recently joined the efforts of leaders of the G8 and global organizations to lend its voice in support of the VGGT on Responsible Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests.”

“Cargill is committed to demonstrating its support for these VGGT in its global business transactions.”

The Coca-Cola Company Commitment: Land Rights and Sugar

  • “Commit to zero tolerance for land grabbing
  • Will adhere to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent across our operations (including bottling partners) and will require our suppliers to adhere to this principle.
  • Encourage the development of an industry-wide commitment within the next three years on sustainable sugarcane
  • Publicly advocate that food and beverage companies, traders, especially of soy, sugar, and palm oil, as well as sourcing country governments to endorse and implement the VGGTs and commit to respecting land rights.”

Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles

  • “Recognize and safeguard the rights of communities and traditional peoples to maintain access to land and natural resources.
  • Require respect for and prohibit the violation of the land rights of individuals and communities.
  • Maintain positive community relations and contribute to local economic development.” In 2014, the company issued Supplier Guiding Principles that includes guidance for suppliers on land rights and FPIC

In 2014, the company issued Supplier Guiding Principles that includes guidance for suppliers
on land rights and FPIC.

Illovo Group Guidelines on Land and Land Rights

  • “The Illovo Group adopts a zero tolerance approach to land grabs and requires that all its Suppliers do likewise.”
  • “We have implemented a process to identify, and on an on-going basis we will continue to assess, through stakeholder engagement and other mechanisms, any negative impacts on land and land rights in the areas in which we operate.”
  • “In relation to small grower development and other projects involving the development of local farm land, we will carry out a due diligence investigation in relation to land rights in order to identify any competing land claims, or other land rights issues, and will seek to address these insofar as possible.”
  • “We will promote the adoption of responsible land rights practices (including those of the UNGC and the UN VGGT on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security) in our countries of operation.”
  • “In line with our Code of Conduct, Illovo adheres to the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in relation to our dealings with our local communities. This requirement extends to our Suppliers, who are also required to adopt a similar approach throughout their supply chains.”

Nestlé Commitment on Land and Land Rights in Agricultural Supply Chains

  • “We will adopt the FAO’s VGGT on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, and other relevant and accepted instruments that codify the rights of communities in relation to their land and natural resources."
  • “[Include] specific commitments on land, natural resources and human rights in our Responsible Sourcing Guideline for high risk commodities, including provisions by suppliers to ensure that:
  • They have a zero tolerance for land grabs.
  • They engage with and seek the support of those who could be affected by investment decisions prior to decisions being taken and respond to their contributions. They take into account existing power imbalances and ensuring active, free, effective, meaningful and informed participation of affected individuals and groups.
  • They seek Free, Prior and Informed Consent with regard to the rights of Indigenous Peoples.|
  • “[Work] with suppliers to implement actions to improve land rights wherever gaps are identified."
  • “[Include] respect for land rights in our due diligence review in relation to acquisitions and joint ventures that involve land acquisition.”

PepsiCo Land Policy

  • “When PepsiCo is acquiring land, engage in fair (based on effective grievance mechanisms and processes) and legal negotiations on land transfers and acquisitions and utilize the IFC Performance Standards to implement the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) principles for agricultural development, in developing countries.”
  • “In countries from which PepsiCo sources raw commodities and where we do not believe adequate land rights protections are in place that are consistent with the IFC Performance Standards and the UN FAO VGGT on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (UN FAO Guidelines), advocate for the national government to use and follow the IFC Performance Standards and UN FAO Guidelines.”
  • “Engage with appropriate industry and other groups to positively impact and respect all legitimate land tenure rights and the people who hold them.”
  • “Utilize the PepsiCo Responsible Sourcing Guidelines as well as the PepsiCo Sustainability Councils and processes to ensure continued engagement with and compliance by suppliers on relevant land issues”

Unilever Sustainable Sourcing Strategy

  • “Unilever recognises that the respect of land rights is critical for food security and for inclusive social and economic development. The practice of land grabbing does not drive sustainable and equitable growth and must be stopped. We are committed to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent. This principle is included in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN VGGT on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries & Forests in the context of National Food Security. Unilever supports the implementation of these guidelines by national authorities.”
  • “We also recognise the right of women to land ownership and access to land. One of the Fundamental Principles of Unilever’s Responsible Sourcing Policy is that the land rights of communities, including Indigenous Peoples, will be protected and promoted and a mandatory requirement is that due diligence relating to established rights to property and land is undertaken.”

Responsible Sourcing Strategy

  • “Land rights of communities, including indigenous peoples, will be protected and promoted
    The rights and title to property and land of the individual, indigenous people and local communities are respected.
  • All negotiations with regard to their property or land, including the use of and transfers of it, adhere to the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, contract transparency and disclosure.”