Pressures on West African land

 

Reconciling development and investment policies

   

In response to increased invest in West African land, the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC/OECD) is leading a regional dialogue with key stakeholders. Within the SWAC's Strategy and Policy Group meeting, participants discussed issues related to responsible and sustainable investment in land, aiming to help reconcile development and investment.

 

 Background | Objectives | Agenda Participants | Results | Documents

 

Background

Commercial pressure on land has received much media attention. Over the last few years, the situation has worsened bringing about challenges related to food security and the environment, as well as long-term investment opportunities and peace. Many studies are attempting to catalogue land sales and leases by foreign investors. Eminent international authorities are taking a stance and calling for regulation.

In West Africa, these challenges concern mainly the land law reforms underway; property rights and land appropriation regulations versus commercial law (states, traditional leaders, user rights upon optimisation of the land, etc.); the trepidation of some countries to be unable to assure their food security in the future; risks of expropriation; use of natural resources to the detriment of local populations; and opportunities in terms of employment, infrastructure and market revival, etc.

 

Objectives

The meeting's aim is to define a roadmap for West Africa which promotes responsible and sustainable investment in land. In particular, debates aim to:

  • Raise awareness among leaders of frameworks respectful of human rights, the economic, land and social environment for investment in West African land.
  • Lead a dialogue to better take into account these frameworks in the evaluation and agricultural and investment policy reform processes of OECD and West African countries (peer reviews, for example).

Outcomes of the meeting also contribute to the International Land Coalition's global initative on "Commercial Pressures on Land".

 

Participants

Government representatives, investors, agricultural producers’ networks, research institutes, regional organisations and international agencies participated in the roundtable debates. Members of the Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA) also joined the discussion within its 25th annual network meeting.  

 

Results

Bringing together some 200 participants, the Bamako meeting highlighted a large diversity of viewpoints on opportunities and risks related to land transactions. Discussions paved the way for consensual solutions and proposals for co-ordinated actions in West Africa, calling for more synergy between regional institutions. The stakeholders agreed on the need to address this issue based on a threefold approach: human rights, land policies and investment frameworks. The participating institutions agreed to:

  • Engage in joint initiatives aiming at deepening the understanding of land issues (> monitoring/information systems on investments in land);
  • Promote/facilitate exchanges, consultations and co-operation between West African States and the inclusion of civil society actors in the debate;
  • Develop regional capacities to provide support to national land policies;
  • Strengthen negotiation capacities of host states to promote regulatory frameworks that respect human rights principles.

> download the press release | > Summary record

 

Preparatory documents

Recent studies and declarations

This paper is a compilation of studies conducted by the International Land Coalition, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Secretariat of the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC/OECD) on land acquisition, land issues and food security in West Africa. It also presents recent declarations of political actors at the regional and international level. A glossary provides clear definitions of the most important technical terms.

West African viewpoints, interviews and articles (French)

This document has been prepared by a network of West African journalists. Building on articles and interviews conducted in 12 countries of the region, it analyses land issues and trends in West Africa, opportunities and risks for domestic and international investors as well as their impact on local populations.