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Transparency in land-based investment: key questions and next steps

Large-scale investments in agriculture and forestry (“land deals”) are often shrouded in secrecy. In many cases, they are negotiated without the involvement of affected communities, approved through opaque decision-making procedures, and governed by legal agreements that are difficult both to access and to understand. This systemic lack of transparency impedes accountability and exacerbates ongoing disagreements about the real costs and benefits for investors, host countries, and their citizens.

This briefing note examines why contract disclosure and a contracting process that is open, accessible, and inclusive are important; what such transparency entails; and how various stakeholders can work towards achieving it. Transparency in the contracting process is of particular significance in the context of land deals, given the centrality of land for the livelihoods, culture, and identity of many land users.