dealing disclosure bright

Report / April 19, 2012

Dealing with Disclosure

The rush for land in developing countries is rapidly intensifying, but the sector remains largely unregulated internationally.

Land deals are frequently agreed in secret between governments and investors. This lack of transparency in the allocation of land fosters an environment where elite capture of natural assets becomes the norm, where human rights are routinely abused with impunity, where environmental destruction is ignored and where investment incentives are stacked against companies willing to adhere to ethical and legal principles.

Dealing with Disclosure, produced in conjunction with the International Land Coalition and the Oakland Institute, sets out for the first time in detail what governments, companies and citizens can do to ensure against the negative impacts of secretive land deals.

The report’s key recommendation is that all contractual information be made publicly available unless investors or governments can prove this would harm commercial competitiveness or public interest – a principle it calls “if in doubt, disclose”. Companies should have to prove their operations are doing no harm, rather than communities with little information or power having to prove that a land deal is negatively affecting them.

The report also reveals how opening up the process around large-scale land deals would not only benefit local communities but also governments and investors. Investors would enjoy a level playing field, reduced risks of corruption, and expensive and damaging conflicts with communities. Greater transparency would also enable governments to make more informed decisions and negotiate better deals when allocating commercial rights to land.