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October 10, 2018

Lynn L. Bergeson Moderates “Sustainable Investment in Agriculture: Improving Agricultural Land Investment Contracts and the Contracting Process” at the IBA Annual Conference

The ACTA Group

On October 8, 2018, Lynn L. Bergeson, President, (The Acta Group®), moderated “Sustainable Investment in Agriculture: Improving Agricultural Land Investment Contracts and the Contracting Process” at the legal profession’s largest international event, the International Bar Association (IBA) Annual Conference held this year in Rome, Italy. Ms. Bergeson is Vice Chairman of IBA’s Agricultural Law Committee. Panelists Katherine Cook, Matrix Chambers; Marsha A Echols, Howard University; James Gathii, Loyola University Chicago School of Law; Gibson Guvheya, World Bank; and Margret Vidar, FAO Development Law Branch, presented sustainable investment approaches in agriculture from a legal perspective, dependent upon the geographical location of a country or region and its economic and technological development.

“Sustainable Investment in Agriculture” session abstract: The concept of “sustainability” elicits a range of interpretations and diverse legal, regulatory, and practical implications.  Anchoring “sustainability” within a legal construct and limiting the fluidity of the concept is well underway, but still a work in progress, in particular in the context of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Important guidance has been provided at international levels, in particular in the form of the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI) and the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT), both of which were endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security, a joint intergovernmental body of the Food and Agriculture  Organization (FAO) and the United Nations (UN).  Derived from these, further guidance material has been produced by FAO, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), bilateral agencies, international non-government organizations, and research institutions.  Sustainability is very much an element of responsibility in this context.  These materials have game changing implications to help ensure agricultural investment evolves in a way to keep pace with the world’s demand for food, but to do so sustainably, efficiently, and cleanly while respecting the human rights and tenure rights of individuals and local communities.

This session was intended to focus on emerging legal issues in the area of sustainable and responsible investment in agriculture, taking the CFS-RAI and VGGT as a starting point.  Presenters discussed a future Legal Guide on Agricultural Land Investment Contracts, FAO and responsible investment in agriculture, how small farmers contribute to agricultural sustainability, and more. For further information, e-mail Lynn L. Bergeson at