Deciding whether or not to allow an investor to use community lands and natural resources is one of the most important decisions a community can make.
When negotiations are conducted fairly and inclusively, investments may result in the creation of jobs, provision of much-needed infrastructure such as schools, roads and clinics, and rental payments that have the potential to support the community’s long-term prosperity and wellbeing.
Unfortunately, consultations between communities and investors are typically characterized by significant information and power imbalances. Community members often don’t know what rights they have, what fair compensation would be, or what is required to make a contract clear and enforceable. Without such a contract, communities are often powerless to hold an investor acting in bad faith accountable, demand remedies for environmental and social damages, or contain an expanding investment to the plot of land originally agreed upon.
The Community-Investor Negotiation Guides equip communities and frontline advocates to engage with potential investors from a place of empowerment.
Drawing on lessons from dozens of community-investor contracts and communities’ experiences from around the world, the two guides offer practical information and accessible legal guidance. They are the first resources of their kind.
This guide, Guide 1: Preparing in Advance for Potential Investors, details how a community can:
1) Create a shared vision for their future development, so they can assess whether an investment would be in their best interest;
2) Understand the holistic value of their land in order to better assess investors’ offers;
3) Make rules to guide how they and their leaders will interact with potential investors and help to manage their lands and natural resource sustainably and equitably;
4) Work to resolve intra-community conflicts around how to react to potential investors; and
5) Prepare for negotiations by researching the investor, creating a negotiating team, and agreeing on points the team will advocate for incorporation into the contract.
It also details community members’ legal rights and explains what an authentic “consultation” should include.
If a community decides to engage further with a potential investor, Guide 2 provides information and advice designed to help communities and frontline advocates negotiate clear, fair, and enforceable contracts with investors.
Authors and Publishers
Namati: Innovations in Legal Empowerment
Namati is an international organization that tests the potential of legal empowerment through innovative interventions and research. Through our work, we seek a better understanding of the impacts of legal empowerment and the most effective mechanisms for achieving them.
The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is the only university-based applied research center and forum dedicated to the study, practice and discussion of sustainable international investment.
Our mission is to develop practical approaches for governments, investors, communities and other stakeholders to maximize the benefits of international investment for sustainable development.