The Analytical Framework for Land-Based Investments in African Agriculture (the “Framework”) is
designed to help investors ensure that their land-based investments are inclusive, sustainable, transparent,
and respect human rights. It derives from a commitment made by the New Alliance Leadership Council
in 2014 to develop a harmonized set of operational guidelines for implementing land-based agricultural
investments in a responsible manner. The Framework was jointly developed by land experts from
the African Union, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and several donor governments –
including Great Britain, Germany, France and the United States.
The Framework builds upon and harmonizes the efforts of several donors who in recent months have
released operational tools to help the private sector and other actors operationalize the principles of the
Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the
Context of National Food Security (“VGGT”), and of multilateral institutions including the African
Union whose Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa are an important
source document. The Framework aligns with and follows the structure of the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations’ draft guide, titled Operationalizing the Voluntary Guidelines on the
Responsible Governance of Tenure: A Technical Guide for Investors (the “FAO Guide”).
The Framework was presented at the New Alliance Leadership Council Summit on June 3, 2015. The
African Union Commission and the World Economic Forum, as Co-Conveners of the Leadership Council,
welcomed the Framework as an important tool for investors, and agreed to assess experience with
utilization of the Framework in one year’s time.
The Framework is not meant to replace the source documents from which it derives. Rather, it is meant to
distill some of the most important principles in these guides, and organize them into a tool that company
staff, investor compliance managers, and risk assessment and management professionals can use to assess
whether a project is adhering to best practices, and if not, how to address deficiencies. The VGGT – widely
acknowledged and supported by the international community – and Africa’s own Guiding Principles
remain the primary substantive resources for the Framework.
As global demand for food, biofuel, forest, and horticultural products rises,more financial investors, agricultural project operators and supply chain companies (collectively referred to in this document as “investors”) are starting to invest – and will continue to invest – in agricultural land in developing countries. But with the potential benefits of such private sector investments come several risks, including land tenure risks: the risks associated with acquiring rights to land. Responsible investors must respectthe rights of local women and men as well as communities to land and other resources, and avoid actions that lead to the loss of these rights and related harms.
Over the last several years, investors have begun to pay closer attention to how to invest responsibly in land, in particular through the application of international and regional land tenure instruments such as the VGGT1 and the “Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa” and the “Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa” developed and adopted by the African Union and related collaborating institutions. In some instances, investors pursuing land-based investments have already committed to these instruments, and to other important industry standards, commitments and best practices.
However, despite good intentions, investors often do not have the technical capacity to operationalize international instruments such as the VGGT.
The Framework should not be taken as an endorsement by the New Alliance of large-scale land-based investment. Indeed, the VGGT discourage investments that require large scale transfers of land rights to investors2. Rather, it is produced in recognition of the fact that large-scale landbased investment is occurring and in an effort to provide advice and highlight best practices related to structuring investments in the most responsible way possible.In addition to practical guidance on what do to, the framework includes red lines that indicate in which situations investment projects should be cancelled if no benign alternatives can be found. This is generally the case, whenever a project will cause or contribute to forced evictions or any other adverse human rights impacts. The Framework also clearly rejects the transfer of land rights to investors involving tracts of land that exceed the amount reasonably required for the true purpose of immediately using the land for agricultural activities.
The Framework should be used throughout the life of the project beginning with the preliminary project assessment, followed by the due diligence phase and continuing through the negotiation, agreement, operation and close-out phases. Hence, while the Framework ideally should be used right from the beginning of a project, it can also be used after a project has begun as land tenure risks can and should be assessed well beyond the due diligence and start-up periods, especially in areas where communities have insecure land rights. Finally, the Framework can also be used by investors whose projects receive support from the New Alliance to document the extent to which they respect the VGGT.
THE IMPORTANCE OF IDENTIFYING STAKEHOLDERS
Depending on the size and location of the project, an agricultural investment can affect hundreds or thousands of people,directly or indirectly. Identifying all stakeholders will help an investor understand who will be affected by a project and how, what influence these people may have over a project, and how to engage with them. Every project should avoid or, at least minimize, its negative impacts on local communities, and only use the minimum land and natural resources necessary to realize the project. Identifying and engaging with stakeholders is the first step in ensuring that a project is legitimate and well-supported. By contrast, failing to identify and engage with stakeholders will likely lead to the exclusion of important voices and interests, and may result in conflict and opposition to the project. Put differently,stakeholder analysis is an essential input in helping an investor
correctly and fully address the questions posed in the body of this tool. Doing so should reduce project risks for both the investor and the community.
So, who may be potential stakeholders in a land-based agriculture project? The following is a non-exhaustive list:
Those with legitimate rights to land in or around the project
area (including those with formal ownership, customary ownership, lease, occupancy, seasonal or temporary use)3
• Government officials (local, regional, national)
• Traditional authorities (village elders, chiefs, religious leaders,
• Trade union organizations, farmers’ organizations and farmers’ cooperatives
• Vulnerable groups (women, pastoralists, indigenous peoples,
youth, elderly, etc.)
• NGOs and Civil Society Organisations
• Project partners (financiers, suppliers, customers)
A stakeholder analysis will help target due diligence, outreach, communications, consultations, negotiations, and project operations to best meet the needs and expectations ofvarious groups affected by the project. In many cases NGOs and civil society organizations can assist in the analysis.