Improving Food Security and Land Governance through investment standards

Investment in agriculture is needed to feed a growing global population. These investments need to respect the situation of the local population and the environment. Switzerland chaired the drafting process of the Principles on Responsible Agricultural Investments that have been adopted by the Committee on World Food Security. Consequently Switzerland supports the application of the Principles by training development country stakeholders in the negotiation and application of sustainable investment frameworks to increase food security for the poorest populations.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
Agricultural policy
Legal and judicial development
Agricultural financial services
01.01.2019 - 30.06.2024
CHF  4’100’000

As worldwide demand for food increases, countries need to attract ever greater amounts of investment into agriculture and food systems. When done right, increased investment can strengthen food security, create employment, increase incomes and promote economic development. But when done badly, it can exacerbate existing inequalities, undermine livelihoods, deplete natural resources, and worsen gender inequities.

With the Principles of Responsible Investments in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI) by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the international community has an agreement at hand that can be implemented by all stakeholders.

Objectives Strengthening of legal and policy frameworks, evidence, and consensus, to help ensure sustainable and responsible investment that positively contributes to agriculture and food systems and increases the food security of the poorest populations. Special attention is paid to gender sensitive investments.
Target groups

Direct beneficiaries

  • Government officials and parliamentarians from low and middle-income countries and regional organizations, primarily in Africa and Asia
  • International organizations, research organizations, civil society and farmer’s organizations

Indirect beneficiaries: Smallholder farmers and rural population benefitting from investments that is sensitive of their needs and socio-economic situation.

Medium-term outcomes
  • Improved ability of government officials to negotiate investment contracts and treaties and to develop legal and policy frameworks
  • Improved evidence and consensus on responsible agricultural investments at the national level, through the creation and dissemination of improved quantitative and qualitative evidence and the dissemination of innovative and practical tools
  • Increased uptake of sustainable development objectives in key regional and international processes relating to issues including investment, agriculture, food security, land, water and gender

Expected results:  

  • Legal advice on request by government officials, including detailed comments on concrete draft treaties, laws, contracts, and other legal documents
  • Development of legal and policy tools to promote responsible and sustainable investment
  • Demand-driven country and regional workshops, South-South dialogues and exchanges
  • Practical tools like handbooks, policy briefs, legal advisory notes, model laws and contracts.

Results from previous phases:  

  • Collaboration with three East African governments: Development of investment contracts which include environmental obligations on investors
  • In Central Africa: Development of a decree that provides land tenure security to local communities where foreign investment projects are planned.
  • In West Africa: Development of a legal framework for a new agricultural growth zone in West Africa
  • Participation in stakeholder consultations for the new Agricultural Land Law (loi foncière agricole – LFA) of Mali.
  • In South East Asia, support to a national government on a new decree for foreign direct investment in agriculture, and development of a model contract for farmland investments.
  • Work with the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to develop a model contract for farmland investments.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • Other international or foreign NGO North
  • Other Swiss Non-profit Organisation

Coordination with other projects and actors

The activities of this project are fully taken into account in the design of other interventions in the cluster Responsible Agricultural Investments. Currently in the project “ASEAN Guidelines to promote responsible agricultural investments”, and in discussions with FAO on a GPFS participation in the FAO RAI-Umbrella Programme.

Since land is a major focus area of IISD, the synergy with GPFS’ Focus area 2.2 on land tenure is also assured.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    4’100’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    3’960’000
Project phases Phase 3 01.01.2019 - 30.06.2024   (Current phase) Phase 2 15.12.2014 - 28.02.2019   (Completed) Phase 1 01.01.2011 - 31.12.2014   (Completed)