In recent years, numerous companies have made commitments to better recognize and respect land rights throughout their supply chains. For Illovo Sugar Africa ("Illovo"), Africa’s largest producer of sugar, this entailed committing to "zero tolerance for land grabs," as well as adopting its Group Guidelines on Land and Land Rights ("Guidelines") and Road Map on Land Rights ("Road Map").
Although making such commitments is a critical first step towards achieving more responsible investments in land, Illovo and many other companies have struggled to implement these commitments for several reasons.
First, companies tend to not understand what it means to better recognize and respect land rights throughout their supply chain, including what international standards and best practices are for responsible investments in land. Second, company staff lacks experience regarding how to identify existing and emerging land issues, as well as how to develop strategies and work plans to mitigate such risks. Third, key stakeholders – including civil society organizations (CSOs), communities, companies, and government – lack collaborative partnerships, even though each stakeholder plays a critical role in achieving more responsible investments in land. Fourth, CSOs and companies are hesitant or unaware of how to transition from adversarial or nonexistent relationships to collaborative relationships built on trust. And fifth, companies lack management tools designed to specifically measure progress made towards better respecting land rights.
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Landesa partners with governments and local organizations to ensure that the world’s poorest families have secure rights over the land they till. Founded as the Rural Development Institute, Landesa has helped more than 105 million poor families gain legal control over their land since 1967. When families have secure rights to land, they can invest in their land to sustainably increase their harvests and reap the benefits—improved nutrition, health, and education—for generations.