Addressing Land Governance in International Responsible Business Conduct Agreements


This KIT report – commissioned by the Land Dialogue – provides insight into a fundamental issue affecting large parts of the globe: land governance. Detailed focus is given to land governance as a possible priority theme in the process of International Responsible Business Conduct (IRBC) Agreements. These agreements involve companies, civil society organisations (trade unions, NGOs) and the government, and are facilitated by the Social-Economic Council of the Netherlands.

The issues and risks of land governance and risk 

Companies and entire industry sectors are causing, contributing to, or affected by land governance issues and risks. Land governance is the process by which decisions are made regarding access to and use of land and natural resources, the manner in which those decisions are implemented, and the way that conflicting interests are reconciled. Land governance covers not only social capital (stakeholder rights, livelihood considerations and gender issues), but also natural capital (ecosystems, biodiversity, deforestation/climate change). Violation of land rights is a significant risk for all business sectors; it is a challenge for sector actors to recognise and prevent these risks.

Sector specific recommendations on how to address land governance in IRBC agreements are included in the report. Companies have a “duty of care” in their due diligence and in their direct or indirect interventions to address actual or possible adverse impacts of land governance in their entire value chain. The aim is to go beyond a “do no harm” approach to minimise adverse impacts, and make positive impacts using a “do good” approach.