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Re: Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments

Ms. Gitte Dyrhagen Husager DanChurchAid, Denmark
20.02.2014
Gitte Dyrhagen

This contribution is submitted on behalf of DanChurchAid (DCA); a development NGO working on the right to food with the overall goal to increase access to sustainable food and adequate nutrition for rights-holders.

In response to the overall questions on the Zero Draft of the CFS-RAI principles, DCA would like to underline the following points:

1)      Relevance of issues and areas:

DCA welcomes the fact that the right to adequate food is considered a founding base of principles, as mentioned in Principle 1. States’ obligation to protect, respect and fulfill the right to adequate food should continue to be at the core of the principles. In accordance with the VGGT, a key objective of the RAI should be the prevention of land grabbing. The text should therefore include specific wording on the obligations and responsibility of duty bearers, including business enterprises, to prevent violations on the right to adequate food and to prevent illegal land acquisitions. The set of minimum principles and measures on large-scale land acquisitions, formulated by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, may provide some useful language in this regard.

Under Principle 3 (Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change), it should be added that “Responsible investments in agriculture and food systems: respect the criteria and safeguards for social and environmental responsibilities, in accordance with international standards and frameworks.” Furthermore, a new bullet point should be added under “Application” stating the following:

o   Investments in low carbon development, energy efficiency, and renewable energy solutions, should be favored and encouraged

o   The effects of climate change on investments should always be considered.

o   Investments in fossil fuels, and fossil based technologies, should be avoided and phased out

2)      Roles and responsibilities:

DCA recommends that the principles recognize that investments must comply with international standards, require open dialogue with those affected (based on principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent) and adhere to the Voluntary Guidelines on Governance of Land Tenure and monitor its implementation.

The corporate responsibility to protect human rights for business enterprises, as stipulated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, should be explicitly mentioned in the principles. This should apply to effects which are both upstream (production) and downstream (sale). Under “Investors” in “Roles and Responsibilities for Part 1”, investors should be called to: “respect the corporate responsibility to protect human rights and to exercise due diligence” in accordance with this framework.

3)      Desired outcome:

For the RAI to be responsible and sustainable, the principles for need to meet the overarching objectives of poverty eradication, human rights protection, elimination of inequalities, gender equity and environmental sustainability.

4)      Implementation/information sharing:

While many of the existing frameworks are voluntary and non-binding in nature, including the VGGT, the RAI should acknowledge the obligations that States have to protect, respect and fulfill the binding human rights standards enshrined in international treaties, which they are signatory to (including the right to adequate food).

For the principles and existing frameworks to be used and implemented, they first of all need to be known. An analysis of the EDFI or DFI websites showed that there appeared to be no mentioning of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Land Tenure (APRODEV study 2013:  http://aprodev.eu/files/Trade/aprodev_policy_brief_dfi_and_landgrabs_final_may2013.pdf)