IIED animation to help communities protect legal rights

The International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED) has released a new animation designed to help local communities protect their rights in the face of large-scale land acquisitions.

News, 19 May 2015

The five-minute animated film, entitled 'Promoting accountability in agricultural investment chains', is part of a programme of work designed to help grassroots organisations understand the complexities of international investment chains, find opportunities to influence the terms of land deals and hold actors to account for any harm done.

The animation was launched at the International Land Coalition Global Land Forum in Dakar (11-16 May 2015), where it was shared with civil society organisations and grassroots organisations from all over the world during a panel discussing 'lessons from experience on legal tools for citizen empowerment' organised by IIED.

Recent years have seen a wave of large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These deals typically involve a complex web of national and international organisations. Many of the deals have negative consequences for local people, ranging from a loss of traditional land rights to curtailment of freedom of expression.

Local communities are often unaware of the complex networks of companies, investors or government bodies that may be involved in such deals. The concept of an 'investment chain' helps to visualise the relationships between these parties.

Using the example of a sugar plantation in the ficticious country of 'Bangalla', the animation maps out the numerous organisations which may be part of a typical agricultural investment chain.

The animation then analyses the chain in order to identify the pressure points where it could be most effective for grassroots groups to apply pressure to ensure that any deal considers local concerns.

You can watch the video above or see it on IIED's YouTube channel.

The animation is part of IIED's work on helping local communities to hold investors accountable, and is designed for local civil society and grassroots organisations that are supporting local communities. It will also be useful for developing country governments and companies.

Why use animation?

Animations can be a simple and friendly entry point to reach out to our targeted audience. Many civil society organisations do not access their information through reading reports, rather through a range of media, particularly synthesised material highlighting key messages.

The animation is designed to be an accessible educational tool: the complex subject matter is broken down into small illustrated components, helping to make international financial relationships understandable for everyone. 

Agribusiness accountability tools

In February 2015, IIED and partner-NGO Inclusive Development International (IDI) organised a workshop in Cambodia for civil society representatives from more than 20 South East Asian civil society organisations.

February 2015: representatives from more than 20 South East Asian civil society organisations gather for a workshop on investment chains. The workshop, entitled “Follow the Money”, was organised by IIED and IDI in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Photo: Holly Jonas)

The workshop reviewed a forthcoming IIED/IDI guide for organisations and individuals supporting rural communities affected by agribusiness investments. The new publication will outline strategies for holding organisations involved in agricultural investments accountable. IIED hopes that the animation will lead more people to download and use the guide.

In March 2014, IIED published a report entitled Understanding agricultural investment chains: lessons to improve governance, which looked at the investment chains behind agricultural land deals and possible pressure points for effective public action.

IIED's Legal Tools for Citizen Empowerment programme develops evidence on large-scale land investment and promotes public debate on the law regulating natural resource investments. IIED also tests ways of strengthening capacity at local level and documents lessons from innovation.