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Editor's Note, Juliette Jackson, Bailey Nickoloff Mar 2023

Editor's Note, Juliette Jackson, Bailey Nickoloff

Sustainable Development Law & Policy

The Sustainable Development Law and Policy Brief (“SDLP”) is celebrating twenty-two years of legal scholarship on issues related to environmental, energy, natural resources, and international development law. SDLP continues to provide cutting-edge solutions to these legal issues in the face of the global COVID-19 Pandemic, while also transitioning back into a “new normal.” This issue is no different, as we published articles challenging our lawmakers and policy heads to address the impending needs of our communities to develop more sustainable infrastructure—needs that are only exacerbated by man-made climate change. We are proud of the work published, and we are forever …


Transparency Of Land-Based Investments: Cameroon Country Snapshot, Sam Szoke-Burke, Samuel Nguiffo, Stella Tchoukep Mar 2021

Transparency Of Land-Based Investments: Cameroon Country Snapshot, Sam Szoke-Burke, Samuel Nguiffo, Stella Tchoukep

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Despite a recent transparency law and participation in transparency initiatives, Cameroon’s investment environment remains plagued by poor transparency.

In a new report focusing on agribusiness projects in Cameroon, CCSI and the Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement (CED) find that:

  • Communities continue to be excluded from decision-making around investments.
  • The government pursues a top-down approach to concession allocation and remains reluctant to recognize all legitimate tenure rights.
  • The government faces threats to its legitimacy as the grievances of citizens and investors alike lead to the barring of roads by communities and investor withdrawals.

CCSI and CED therefore call for:

  • A …


Mining And The Sdgs: A 2020 Status Update, Responsible Mining Foundation, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment Sep 2020

Mining And The Sdgs: A 2020 Status Update, Responsible Mining Foundation, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

In September 2015, the UN member states agreed on a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which represent the global agenda for equitable, socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable economic development until 2030. Mining companies have the potential to become leading partners in achieving the SDGs. Through their direct operations, mining companies can generate profits, employment, and economic growth in low-income countries. And through partnerships with government and civil society, mining companies can ensure that benefits of mining extend beyond the life of the mine itself, so that the mining industry has a positive impact on the natural environment, climate …


Submission To Bonsucro Re Production Standard V5 (2019-21), Nami Patel, Sam Szoke-Burke Jul 2020

Submission To Bonsucro Re Production Standard V5 (2019-21), Nami Patel, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

In July 2020, CCSI made a formal submission to Bonsucro, an international multi-stakeholder initiative and certification scheme concerned with promoting sustainable sugar cane production. The submission formed part of consultations for Bonsucro’s draft Production Standard version 5. CCSI’s submission focused on challenges associated with implementing, and auditing for compliance with, three aspects of Bonsucro’s draft standard, namely:

  • Obtaining the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous and traditional communities when establishing or expanding sugar production operations
  • Implementing transparent and participatory processes to assess, monitor, and evaluate the environmental and social impacts of new and existing projects; and
  • Establishing accessible …


Electric Utility Alignment With The Sdgs & The Paris Climate Agreement, Perrine Toledano, Aniket Shah, Nicolas Maennling, Ryan J. Lasnick Feb 2020

Electric Utility Alignment With The Sdgs & The Paris Climate Agreement, Perrine Toledano, Aniket Shah, Nicolas Maennling, Ryan J. Lasnick

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda poses a unique and critical challenge to the energy sector: how to scale access to clean energy to power sustainable, economic development for a growing population, while simultaneously decarbonizing global energy supply. Expanding access to clean energy will play a crucial role in achieving nearly every one of the Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to agricultural production, health outcomes, educational performance, water systems, access to infrastructure, and reducing inequalities. However, practices by some actors in the energy sector, and continued over-reliance on greenhouse gas-intensive fossil fuels also undermine global efforts to mitigate climate change …


Environmental Injustice: How Treaties Undermine Human Rights Related To The Environment, Lisa E. Sachs, Lise Johnson, Ella Merrill Jan 2020

Environmental Injustice: How Treaties Undermine Human Rights Related To The Environment, Lisa E. Sachs, Lise Johnson, Ella Merrill

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Growing cries for action to effectively address the climate and other environmental crises hold important implications for the governance of cross-border investments. Policymakers and environmental advocates have often overlooked how provisions granted by states in international investment agreements (IIAs) have been used by investors to challenge government measures taken in the public interest to protect the environment and advance environmental justice.

This 2019 paper, published in the Sciences Po Legal Review issue devoted to the climate crisis, explains how the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, made available to investors in thousands of bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements, may …


Outcome Report On The Climate Crisis, Global Land Use And Human Rights Conference, Mateusz Kasprowicz, Sam Szoke-Burke, Kaitlin Y. Cordes Nov 2019

Outcome Report On The Climate Crisis, Global Land Use And Human Rights Conference, Mateusz Kasprowicz, Sam Szoke-Burke, Kaitlin Y. Cordes

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

On September 27th, the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Landesa, the New York City Bar Association International Environmental Law Committee, and Wake Forest Law School hosted a day-long conference on the intersection between land use, the climate crisis and clean energy transition, and human rights.

Held at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice, the conference brought together individuals from civil society organizations, governments, and academia, as well as lawyers, climate scientists, land-rights experts, indigenous representatives and other stakeholder groups. The panelists analyzed the critical role that land plays in …


Briefing For Civil Society Organizations – Understanding Commercial Eucalyptus Plantations: How Do They Work And What Are Their Environmental Impacts?, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment Jul 2019

Briefing For Civil Society Organizations – Understanding Commercial Eucalyptus Plantations: How Do They Work And What Are Their Environmental Impacts?, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

If a company wants to use a community’s land for eucalyptus plantations, the community should think carefully about whether this is a good idea. Civil society organizations that support communities can use this briefing to help communities understand the potential environmental impacts the community should be aware of. The briefing explains plantation forestry and the life-cycle of eucalyptus tree plantations. It also notes the different possible negative environmental impacts of eucalyptus plantations before exploring how this information can be factored into community decision-making about a proposed eucalyptus plantation. While the briefing focuses on eucalyptus plantations, a lot of it will …


Innovative Financing Solutions For Community Support In The Context Of Land Investments, Sam Szoke-Burke Mar 2019

Innovative Financing Solutions For Community Support In The Context Of Land Investments, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Communities affected by agricultural, forestry, and other resource investments urgently need increased funding for legal and technical support. Without support, communities risk losing access to critical land and resources, suffering human rights violations, or missing opportunities to benefit from investments. A lack of community support can also lead to conflict and challenges that are damaging for companies and host governments.

Donors and support providers have found ways to finance support for communities, but such efforts can only extend so far. Promising new opportunities exist for filling the financing gap, yet they will require sustained efforts by a range of actors. …


Bridging The Information Gap: How Access To Land Contracts Can Serve Community Rights, Lara Wallis, Sam Szoke-Burke Jan 2019

Bridging The Information Gap: How Access To Land Contracts Can Serve Community Rights, Lara Wallis, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Land contracts (also known as investor-state contracts, or concession agreements) show what commitments a forestry, farming or renewable energy company has made and what the government has said the company can do on the land. These promises define the positive and harmful effects the company’s project could have on community members’ livelihoods and human rights, and on the environment.

Accessing land contracts is a crucial strategy for local organizations. This briefing note explains how local organizations can use land contracts and the Open Land Contracts repository (OpenLandContracts.org) to help communities to:

  • Understand company and government obligations related to a company …


Community-Investor Negotiation Guide 2: Negotiating Contracts With Investors, Sam Szoke-Burke, Rachael Knight, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Marena Brinkhurst Sep 2018

Community-Investor Negotiation Guide 2: Negotiating Contracts With Investors, Sam Szoke-Burke, Rachael Knight, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Marena Brinkhurst

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

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. If an investment project is carried out in a respectful and inclusive way, it may help community members to achieve their development goals, which may include creating jobs and local economic opportunities. But investments come with risks. Investment projects may make the land that community members need for farming and other livelihood activities unavailable for some time. They may pollute local rivers, lakes, air, and soils, or block access to sacred areas or water …


Community-Investor Negotiation Guide 1: Preparing In Advance For Potential Investors, Rachael Knight, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Sam Szoke-Burke, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Marena Brinkhurst Sep 2018

Community-Investor Negotiation Guide 1: Preparing In Advance For Potential Investors, Rachael Knight, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Sam Szoke-Burke, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Marena Brinkhurst

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

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. If an investment project is carried out in a respectful and inclusive way, it may help community members to achieve their development goals, which may include creating jobs and local economic opportunities. But investments come with risks. Investment projects may make the land that community members need for farming and other livelihood activities unavailable for some time. They may pollute local rivers, lakes, air, and soils, or block access to sacred areas or water …


Implementing Shared-Use Of Mining Infrastructure To Achieve The Sustainable Development Goals, Perrine Toledano, Nicolas Maennling Jan 2018

Implementing Shared-Use Of Mining Infrastructure To Achieve The Sustainable Development Goals, Perrine Toledano, Nicolas Maennling

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Many of the Sustainable Development Goals will only be achieved if the population has access to basic services, such as access to water, power, transport, and telecommunications. However, in many developing countries there is a lack of infrastructure to guarantee these services and there are insufficient public funds to finance growing needs. In resource-rich countries, the mining sector can play a key role in increasing access to infrastructure. Mining-related infrastructure is often developed to serve the exclusive need of the investors, but if it is shared and developed to serve the broader needs and uses of the host economy it …


Guide To Land Contracts: Forestry Projects, International Senior Lawyers Project, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Sam Szoke-Burke Jan 2017

Guide To Land Contracts: Forestry Projects, International Senior Lawyers Project, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Agricultural investment contracts and forestry projects can be complex, with complicated provisions that are difficult to understand. To assist non-lawyers in better understanding agricultural investment contracts, such as those available on the Open Land Contracts repository, CCSI has developed a Guide to Land Contracts: Forestry Projects.

This Guide, prepared by International Senior Lawyers Project staff and volunteers in collaboration with the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, aims to assist the Open Land Contracts repository users in unpacking the technical provisions and language typically found in forestry contracts in order to better understand the contracts and the potential implications of …


Conference Report: Climate Change And Sustainable Investment In Natural Resources: From Consensus To Action, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Sabin Center For Climate Change Law Nov 2016

Conference Report: Climate Change And Sustainable Investment In Natural Resources: From Consensus To Action, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Sabin Center For Climate Change Law

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment has produced this conference report on CCSI’s Conference on Climate Change and Sustainable Investment in Natural Resources: From Consensus to Action. A shorter outcome document, which was disseminated at COP22, is also available. These documents summarize the discussions at the eleventh annual Columbia International Investment Conference, which took place on November 2-3, 2016, at Columbia University. The Conference offered a high-level opportunity to discuss how countries can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement, while also advancing the Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular the important implications for the …


Mapping Mining To The Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, United Nations Development Programme, World Economic Forum Jul 2016

Mapping Mining To The Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, United Nations Development Programme, World Economic Forum

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

CCSI has been working with the World Economic Forum, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to create a shared understanding of how the mining industry can most effectively contribute to the SDGs. The report will help mining companies navigate where their activities – from exploration, through operations and mine closure – can help the world achieve the SDGs. Governments, civil society and other stakeholders can also identify opportunities for shared action and partnership with the industry.

A draft report of Mapping Mining to the Sustainable Development Goals: A Preliminary Atlas was released for …


Employment From Mining And Agricultural Investments: How Much Myth, How Much Reality?, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Olle Östensson, Perrine Toledano Jul 2016

Employment From Mining And Agricultural Investments: How Much Myth, How Much Reality?, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Olle Östensson, Perrine Toledano

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Employment creation is often seen as a key benefit of investment in natural resources. However, this benefit sometimes falls short: job estimates may be inflated, governmental policies may fail to maximize employment generation, and, in some cases, investments may lead to net livelihood losses. A more thorough examination of employment tied to mining and agricultural investments is thus useful for assessing whether and how employment from natural resource investments contributes to sustainable economic development – a particularly timely topic as countries consider how they will achieve the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015.

This report aims to clarify the processes …


Corporate Agricultural Investment And The Right To Food: Addressing Disparate Protections And Promoting Rights-Consistent Outcomes, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Anna Bulman Mar 2016

Corporate Agricultural Investment And The Right To Food: Addressing Disparate Protections And Promoting Rights-Consistent Outcomes, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Anna Bulman

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Over the past decade, the world has witnessed heightened corporate interest in large-scale land-based agricultural investment. While such investments can potentially have positive effects for local communities, they also can have wide-ranging negative impacts on human rights, including through forced displacement and the loss of livelihoods. This Article examines the impact of large-scale corporate agricultural investment on the right to food, as well as on human rights more generally. It considers the protections offered by the investment and human rights legal regimes to both corporations and individuals, including recent international developments relating to transnational corporate accountability and efforts to integrate …


Land Deal Dilemmas: Grievances, Human Rights, And Investor Protections, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lise Johnson, Sam Szoke-Burke Mar 2016

Land Deal Dilemmas: Grievances, Human Rights, And Investor Protections, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lise Johnson, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Land-based investments can create significant grievances for local individuals or communities, and host governments seeking to address those grievances must navigate a complicated landscape of legal obligations and pragmatic considerations. This report, funded by UK aid from the Department for International Development, focuses on practical solutions for governments confronting grievances that arise from large-scale investments in agricultural or forestry projects.

The report considers such solutions in the context of governments’ legal obligations, particularly those imposed by international investment law, international human rights law, and investor-state contracts. Understanding the implications of this diverse range of legal obligations is particularly important in …


Guide To Land Contracts: Agricultural Projects, International Senior Lawyers Project, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Sam Szoke-Burke Mar 2016

Guide To Land Contracts: Agricultural Projects, International Senior Lawyers Project, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Agricultural investment contracts can be complex, with complicated provisions that are difficult to understand. This Guide provides explanations for a range of common provisions, and includes a Glossary of legal and technical terms. It assists non-lawyers in better understanding agricultural investment contracts, such as those available on the Open Land Contracts repository.

The Guide was prepared by International Senior Lawyers Project staff and volunteers in collaboration with the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment.


Transparency In Land-Based Investment: Key Questions And Next Steps, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment Mar 2016

Transparency In Land-Based Investment: Key Questions And Next Steps, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Large-scale investments in agriculture and forestry are often shrouded in secrecy. In many cases, they are negotiated without the involvement of affected communities, approved through opaque decision-making procedures, and governed by legal agreements that are difficult both to access and to understand. This systemic lack of transparency impedes accountability and exacerbates ongoing disagreements about the real costs and benefits for investors, host countries, and their citizens.

Jointly authored by CCSI and the Open Contracting Partnership, this briefing note examines why contract disclosure and a contracting process that is open, accessible, and inclusive are important; what such transparency entails; and how …


Recommending Transparency In Land-Based Investment: A Summary Of Relevant Guidelines And Principles, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment Mar 2016

Recommending Transparency In Land-Based Investment: A Summary Of Relevant Guidelines And Principles, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

An emerging consensus on the need for greater transparency in land-based investment is increasingly evident across various forums. This document consolidates recommendations regarding transparency featured in guidelines and principles published by international organizations, government agencies, and multilateral or multi-stakeholder groups. Viewed together, these recommendations offer insight on the evolving narrative on transparency in land-based investment, assist stakeholders in addressing the issue of transparency, and provide an informed starting point for further analysis.


Land Deals And The Law: Grievances, Human Rights, And Investor Protections, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lise Johnson, Sam Szoke-Burke Mar 2016

Land Deals And The Law: Grievances, Human Rights, And Investor Protections, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lise Johnson, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Land-based investments can create significant grievances for local individuals or communities, and host governments seeking to address those grievances must navigate a complicated landscape of legal obligations and pragmatic considerations. This briefing note, funded by UK aid from the Department for International Development, focuses on practical solutions for governments confronting grievances that arise from large-scale investments in agricultural or forestry projects. It accompanies a more in depth report on similar issues, entitled "Land Deal Dilemmas: Grievances, Human rights, and Investor Protections."

The briefing note considers such solutions in the context of governments’ legal obligations, particularly those imposed by international investment …


Uncloaking The Secrecy Behind Large-Scale Land Deals, Jesse Coleman Dec 2015

Uncloaking The Secrecy Behind Large-Scale Land Deals, Jesse Coleman

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Large-scale investments in agriculture and forestry have far-reaching implications for the lives of affected individuals and communities. They are also an integral part of efforts by national governments to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and improve the governance of land resources. Despite their significance, these “land deals” and the contracts that govern them are often cloaked in secrecy, removed from relevant spheres of public scrutiny and debate.


Memo To The Obama Administration On The U.S. National Action Plan On Responsible Business Conduct, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lisa E. Sachs Jan 2015

Memo To The Obama Administration On The U.S. National Action Plan On Responsible Business Conduct, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lisa E. Sachs

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

In January 2015, CCSI sent a memo to President Obama to provide input on the U.S. National Action Plan on responsible business conduct. The memo applauded the U.S. Government’s decision to develop a National Action Plan consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, noting that responsible and rights-respecting outward investment can support sustainable development in host countries, and that the U.S. Government has an important role to play in promoting responsible business operations. The memo urged the government to explore in particular how the National Action Plan can address …


Meeting Summary Of Colloquium On Policy, Law, Contracts, And Sustainable Development, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment Nov 2014

Meeting Summary Of Colloquium On Policy, Law, Contracts, And Sustainable Development, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

In November 2014, CCSI and the Institute for Human Rights and Business co-convened a colloquium on policy, law, contracts, and sustainable development, with a particular focus on large-scale investments in the extractive industries and the agriculture sector. The colloquium provided an opportunity for practitioners to share information on their related work, as well as to reflect on current practices and remaining gaps regarding efforts to embed sustainability and human rights into large-scale deals. This outcome document provides a summary of the discussion, while its annex includes information on participants’ relevant programs, initiatives, and tools.


Toward Win-Win Sustainable Development, Linda Moon Nov 2014

Toward Win-Win Sustainable Development, Linda Moon

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

An interview with Lisa Sachs, Director of the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment.


Cameroon Pastoralists Fight For Their Way Of Life, Kaitlin Y. Cordes Sep 2013

Cameroon Pastoralists Fight For Their Way Of Life, Kaitlin Y. Cordes

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

After years of struggles against governments and private parties, the Mbororo-Fulani are gaining international attention. But is this too little too late?


Memo To The Obama Administration On The Burma Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lisa E. Sachs Sep 2013

Memo To The Obama Administration On The Burma Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lisa E. Sachs

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

In September 2013, CCSI sent a memo to President Obama and his Administration in response to the first public reports submitted by U.S. companies in compliance with the Burma Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements. The memo applauded the U.S. Government’s efforts to encourage responsible investment in Burma, noting that robust due diligence is essential to ensuring that international investments contribute to sustainable development. Yet the memo also urged the Obama Administration to take steps to strengthen future reporting. In particular, CCSI urged the Administration to issue clarifying guidance that any U.S. investor submitting a report should (1) provide information on due …


The Global Land Rush: Markets, Rights, And The Politics Of Food, Smita Narula Jan 2013

The Global Land Rush: Markets, Rights, And The Politics Of Food, Smita Narula

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

In the past five years, interest in purchasing and leasing agricultural land in developing countries has skyrocketed. This trend, which was facilitated by the 2008 food crisis, is led by state and private investors, both domestic and foreign. Investors are responding to a variety of global forces: Some are securing their own food supply, while others are capitalizing on land as an increasingly promising source of financial returns. Proponents argue that these investments can support economic development in host states while boosting global food production. But critics charge that these “land grabs” disregard land users' rights and further marginalize already …