IISD Mourns the Passing of Ciata Bishop, Advisor and Advocate for Responsible Agricultural Investment

October 13, 2022

GENEVA—IISD is saddened by the recent loss of Ciata Bishop, a long-time friend and advisor to our team and a passionate advocate for ensuring that investment is conducted sustainably and with the involvement of the communities affected. 

Bishop was an influential international trade and investment lawyer with several decades of experience in government and private sector roles, working extensively in her home country of Liberia as well as internationally in the United States, the Cayman Islands, and Jamaica. Among her many leadership roles, Bishop served as the Director General of the National Bureau of Concession in Liberia, as well as the Executive Director of Liberia's National Investment Commission. 

Her collaboration with IISD first dates back to 2011, when she took part in the fifth edition of the Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators, an event that brings together delegates from developing and emerging economies to network, strategize, and generate new ideas for international investment law and policy grounded in sustainable development. That year’s event was held in Kampala, Uganda, with Bishop serving as one of the keynote speakers, expertly walking us through the topic of "Rising or Uprising? Africa’s Inward Investment, Development and Sustainable Development."

Our relationship with her grew over time, with Bishop contributing her deep knowledge and expertise on responsible agricultural investments and the legal frameworks that make these possible. Over the past 2 years, she signed on to our agriculture team more formally as an advisor, working with us to help develop an updated IISD model contract for responsible investment in agriculture. 

"Ciata was a joy to work with. Her humorous spirit and infectious 'good morning' on team calls brought a lot of light, despite the fact that she was often in the darkgetting up at 5 a.m. to join us across distant time zonesand never once complaining," said Nyaguthii Maina, IISD Associate and International Law Advisor.

Bishop was deeply devoted to sharing her knowledge with the policy-maker community, helping us develop and undertake workshops for government officials on topics ranging from responsible contract farming to agriculture investorstate contracts and international investment agreements. Bishop was also a regular contributor to IISD's Community of Practice for developing country negotiators working on agricultural investment, an online space for exchanging articles, reports, event invitations, experiences, and new ideas. 

She was equally generous in sharing the lessons learned in her own personal experiences as a leading government official in Liberia, taking part in our “Stories of Change” series to walk us through how her country worked to draw in large-scale investments in agriculture in its early post-war years and what they learned along the way.

"Besides being a great team member, Ciata's illustrious career and deep care for the issues brought insightful reflections and perspective to our work. She was always willing and eager to share practical and useful insights on how to move from theory to practice. We will deeply miss her," said Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder, Senior Director of IISD’s Economic Law and Policy program.

Bishop's work will continue to shape the field of responsible agricultural investment for years to come, reminding us that each country's experience is different, and that we can achieve more if we learn from each other than if we move ahead by ourselves.

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