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14 sep


Verslag: Are we on the right track?

Towards inclusive investment and business models for improved land governance and livelihoods
Are we on the right track?

Why this seminar

Smallholders and communities own, use and manage a significant share of the world’s agricultural lands and forests. Their livelihoods largely depend on the resources given by the land, in terms of food security and nutrition, energy supply, income and employment. More than three quarters of the world’s food is produced by smallholder farmers. However, smallholders’ rights to access, control and use land are often insecure, unclear or not respected. This is due to opaque, overlapping or conflicting (customary and formal) tenure regimes as well as illegal and/or illegitimate occupation.

Investors and companies developing large scale land based business projects are also increasingly confronted with situations of unclear, non-recognised local land (use) rights and conflicting tenure regimes. Many cases show that if such issues are not properly and timely addressed, they can seriously put the investment and the companies’ business and reputation at risk. However, it is often a challenge for investors and businesses to work with large numbers of organized or non-organized smallholders. This is largely based on the perception that this too difficult and will incur large transaction costs and risks. It is also thought that smallholder productivity is too low, and quality not assured, limiting the potential to reach scale, and affecting the chances to ensure risk adjusted returns on investments and to realise sufficient economic revenues.

From “do-no-harm” to “do good”

Current investment decisions from the financial sector are predominantly based on large-scale traditional business models applying standards and principles (such as the OECD Guidelines, IFC Performance Standards) that are based on a “do no harm” and risk mitigation approach, which aim to minimize the adverse impacts of projects. There is however, a growing group of financial institutions and businesses that recognize the value-added and need to work with smallholders and communities not only to achieve the impacts they aspire with regard to the SDGs but also as a way to reduce business risk. They are proactively investing in alternative tenure and business models that directly aim to improve livelihoods and respect tenure rights, while maintaining profitability and environmental sustainability of their business investment. Such a “do-good approach” is based on early
engagement, good partnership and long-term security of all parties. It builds on local realities, needs, possibilities and interests, and departs from the tenure situation “as it is”. Such an approach embraces local communities and smallholders as equal partners and shareholders with whom to engage in an early stage and to make long term, equitable and secure contractual business arrangements.

The seminar

On September 14th some 100+ experts and stakeholders on investments in agriculture and forestry convened in Ede, The Netherlands, to exchange views on how investments can ‘do good’ and how this can be scaled-up. In the annual seminar – the 10th in this series – we have shared the latest knowledge, experiences and insights with regard to such innovative tenure and business models. Deliberations at the seminar were guided in particular by the findings of the recently published working document Improving the positive impacts of investments on smallholder livelihoods and the landscapes they live in (see box).

On the website of Tropenbos International a 2-page report of the seminar, powerpoint presentations and pictures can be downloaded.


The meeting was a mix of plenary sessions and working groups to ensure effective interaction and sharing of experiences

12.30 hrs: Welcome, registration and coffee

Session 1: Starting off

13.00 hrs: Objectives, expectations and programme of the seminar – Seminar Chair René Boot (Director Tropenbos International)
13.15 hrs: Opening address – Frits van der Wal (Senior Policy Advisor Ministry of Foreign Affairs Focal Point Land Governance)

Session 2: “What works”

13.30 hrs: Main findings of TBI – FMO – KIT – HIVOS Report – Emilie Goodall (Manager strategy FMO)
13.50 hrs: Case: Savannah Fruit Company – Jan Willem den Besten (IUCN-NL) with FORM International
14.10 hrs: Q&A
14.30 hrs: Introduction to the breakout groups – Chair
14.35 hrs: Coffee break

Session 3: Breakout groups -“Learning together”

15.00 hrs: Participants will break out in working groups to share their reflections on the key pointers in the working paper and their ideas on strategies and mechanisms for scaling up. – Moderators: Emilie Goodall (FMO), Caroline van Leenders (RVO), Joost van Montfort (IUCN-NL) and others.
15.55 hrs: Return to plenary
16.05 hrs: Reports from the breakout groups and plenary discussion

Session 4: Looking forward

16.55 hrs: Reflection on lessons learnt and next steps – Maryse Hazelzet (Dutch Banking Association), Hugo Verkuijl (Hivos) and Frits van der Wal (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
17.15 hrs: Drinks

This is the tenth in a series of annual seminars on Sustainable forest management in the tropics. Are we on the right track? This year’s seminar was jointly organized by Utrecht University (Prince Bernhard Chair), Wageningen University (Forestry groups, Centre for Development and Innovation), Tropenbos International, the Dutch Association of Tropical Forests (VTB), and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dutch government. This year’s seminar was in partnership with FMO – the Dutch Development Bank, KIT- The Royal Tropical Institute, and HIVOS International.



Conference Centre de Reehorst, Ede
12:30 -17:00u
Bekijk de volledige agenda