ALIGN: Advancing Land-based Investment Governance

ALIGN supports governments, civil society, local communities and other relevant actors in strengthening the governance of land-based investments – from agriculture to infrastructure, extractives and manufacturing.

August 2020 to March 2025
Lorenzo Cotula

Principal researcher and head of law, economies and justice programme, Natural Resources research group

Law, economies and justice
A collaborative programme of work on renegotiating the law to promote fairer, more sustainable economies
Forestry tractor carrying fruits from a field

Land-based investments raise difficult land rights issues, often rooted in competing visions of development. The ALIGN project works to improve investment governance to protect local land rights (Photo: FIANBelgium via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Development policy and practice place growing emphasis on the role of private investment in promoting sustainable development. But a wave of land-based investments for agriculture, renewable energy, mining, petroleum, manufacturing and infrastructure has raised widespread concerns about land dispossession and conflict.

International soft-law instruments such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) provide guidance on regulating land-based investments. But much remains to be done to translate guidance into real change.

And while public campaigning on ‘land grabbing’ has made some businesses more aware of tenure rights issues and risks, most businesses are yet to meaningfully reconsider their practices or engage with tenure issues unless forced to by flare ups of conflict.

Addressing these issues requires systemic governance reform to strengthen local rights and to enhance opportunities for public participation and accountability in investment processes.

What is IIED doing?

IIED, Namati and the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) have developed an initiative to support governments, civil society, local communities and private sector actors in improving the governance and practices of land-based investments.  

The Advancing Land-based Investment Governance (ALIGN) project involves:

  • Sustained, in-depth work in Sierra Leone, Zambia and Indonesia to support policy development and implementation, legal empowerment, and dialogue between actors, both at the national level and in selected sites
  • Responsive support to governments, civil society, local communities and other relevant actors in a wider range of countries, for example through training and support regarding policy development and implementation, legal empowerment, and dialogue between actors, and
  • Enhancing understanding and improving practices among key actors, globally and in specific targeted contexts, through developing and disseminating innovative responses to key challenges.

Responsible Land-Based Investment Navigator

As part of ALIGN, IIED and the Land Portal Foundation have developed the Responsible Land-Based Investment (RLBI) Navigator 2.0, a practical tool to help government, civil society and private sector actors identify and access targeted information on responsible land investments.

With more than 200 different tools and guides, reports, case studies and links to relevant platforms, as well as news and blogs on responsible investments, the navigator brings together a variety of resources to help specialist and non-specialist audiences protect land rights within the context of investments. 

These resources are categorised and accessible through 18 different topics, from advocacy to transparency and anti-corruption, or through 10 audience groups, to offer each stakeholder the tools and information most relevant to their work.