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Agriculture, Water and Investment

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Rural areas in developing countries desperately need investment. The challenge is to design a strategy to invest in small-scale farmers, food security and sustainable use of water and other natural resources.

A wave of foreign investment in agricultural land and water is transforming rural economies and livelihoods. The Land Matrix Partnership says that more than 1,217 deals were concluded in developing countries between 2000 and 2009, covering 83 million hectares of land.

A key driver for investment is the growing global demand for food and biofuels, coupled with increasing water shortages and scarcity, which have forced many governments to look abroad. The private sector, including banking and finance, is seizing the opportunities.

Rural areas and the agriculture sector desperately need investment. One billion people go to bed hungry every night. Seventy per cent of those people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, foreign investment does not always contribute to improving those livelihoods.

IISD’s work tries to help governments and policy-makers build more effective investment strategies that contribute to sustainable development. We explain the role of international investment agreements in protecting investors’ interests and the need to safeguard space for governments to implement agricultural policies in the public interest.

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