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Agriculture, Water and Investment

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Agriculture is on the frontlines of nearly all urgent global challenges, from hunger to climate change to rising inequality.

We provide high-quality advice to governments to help transform public and private investment into a vehicle for change: strengthening food security and livelihoods, while protecting land rights and responsibly managing natural resources.

Over 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, 70 per cent of whom live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture provides a livelihood for more people globally than any other sector, representing almost 50 per cent of total employment in poor countries. Investment in agriculture has a greater poverty reduction effect—especially amongst the poorest people—than investment in any other sector.

This is why increased investment in agriculture and food systems in low- and middle-income countries is desperately needed. When done right, increased investment can help boost production, generate employment, increase incomes and promote economic development. But when done badly, it can exacerbate existing inequalities, undermine the livelihoods of small farmers, particularly women, and significantly deplete land, water, soil and other natural resources.

Ensuring positive impacts from foreign investment requires robust policies, laws and practices. IISD works with governments and policy-makers to build the laws and policies needed to maximize the benefits—and minimize the risks—of foreign investment.

We also work to improve the flow of public investment to agriculture. We joined forces with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to measure the scale of public spending needed to end hunger. We found that it will cost an extra USD 11 billion per year from now until 2030 to largely eradicate hunger, a central part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Along with IFPRI and Cornell University we have now embarked on a new project, CERES 2030: Sustainable solutions to end hunger, which combines state-of-the-art modelling techniques with expert evidence to build consensus on the best way to end hunger sustainably, with costs and effective solutions.

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  • Blog
    Hunger Is On the Rise: Here are three ways to stop it

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  • Policy Brief
    The Rise of Agricultural Growth Poles in Africa: Investment in Agriculture Policy Brief #6

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    Africa has seen the emergence of 36 agricultural growth poles and 9 corridors over the past 15 years. They cover at least 3.5 million hectares of land in 23 countries. Ensuring that the new wave of agropoles and growth corridors is effective requires robust policies, laws and practices to ensure that a possible new trend of investment helps Africa achieve the sustainable development goals the continent has set.

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  • Blog
    Farmland Investments Are Finding their Way to International Arbitration

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    A claim registered by a Swedish investor against the Tanzanian government for revoking a land title amid concerns over the impact on local communities and a wildlife sanctuary is the first known investor-state dispute against a government linked to the so-called “land grab” phenomenon, which arose out of the 2008 food crisis.

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  • Briefing Note
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  • Commentary
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    What Is the Link Between Hunger and Migration?

    In the context of the current refugee crisis—and the rhetoric surrounding international migration—we investigated how international migration is affected by economic growth, hunger and increased agricultural productivity.

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  • Briefing Note
    Can We Measure Resilience? Reducing Agriculture’s Vulnerability to Climate Change

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    Thirty-six indicators make up this framework to promote resilience to climate change impacts and vulnerabilities in Canadian agriculture.

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  • Blog
    Une nouvelle loi pour sécuriser les terres au profit des paysans maliens

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    Le 11 avril 2017, le Président malien a promulgué la loi foncière agricole (LFA) adoptée par l'Assemblée nationale 10 jours plus tôt. C'est la première fois dans l'histoire législative du Mali qu'une loi est spécifiquement adoptée pour traiter des terres agricoles.

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