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.
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 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.
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).
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."
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.
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
Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles
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
Nestlé Commitment on Land and Land Rights in Agricultural Supply Chains
PepsiCo Land Policy
Unilever Sustainable Sourcing Strategy
Responsible Sourcing Strategy