The UNIDROIT-FAO-IFAD Legal Guide on Agricultural Land Investment Contracts (The Guide) is a tool to promote responsible agricultural foreign investment. Many international organisations insist that more private investment is needed to meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Agricultural foreign investment, particularly, is central to a world with no poverty (SDG 1) and no hunger (SDG 2) (The Guide 2019, 10, 13), but the link between foreign investment and these goals should not be taken for granted. Foreign investment can probably promote these and other SDGs; however, it also creates costs and risks.
By bringing forward this interlegal sensibility, ALIC invites the investor to think of their own best interest in broad term and to take the time to understand already-existing, pluralist socio-legal expectations and practices. It also implicitly reminds the investor to take the time to build a relationship with local communities that is buttressed by an iterative understanding of fairness (a core tenet of commercial law). Without such a relationship and appropriate due diligence, ALIC in effect recommends to the investor and the local community to not pursue the deal – no one benefits from a land transaction that is only made possible by disrupting local people’s lives or dislocating them from their homeland.
Welcome to the Symposium on the Zero Draft of the UNIDROIT/FAO/IFAD Legal Guide on Agricultural Land Investment Contracts (ALIC) (hereinafter Legal Guide or Zero Draft). The Legal Guide, is being developed by a UNIDROIT Working Group in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).