Making land deals more transparent

Man gardening

A new report suggests how land deals could be made more transparent, drawing on lessons from other sectors.

In the report, The Possible Shape of a Land Transparency Initiative, Anna Locke (ODI, Future Agricultures land theme) and Giles Henley (ODI) review existing voluntary transparency initiatives in other sectors (extractives, forestry, international aid, construction, etc.) to pull out lessons to inform the possible shape of a land transparency initiative.

A review of five transparency initiatives highlights several key lessons to take into account if a decision is taken to establish a land transparency initiative.

  • An event will be held at ODI in London to discuss the report on 10 December 2013 – email for more information.


Between 2007 and 2010, reported land deals negotiated in the global South rose substantially, driven by the biofuel boom, the global food crisis and increased plantation forestry activity.

While many have welcomed the increased interest in investing in agriculture, with its potential to bring significant benefits to the host country and its citizens, the increase in large-scale land acquisition has sparked concerns about outcomes, particularly around the level of benefits and risks generated and their distribution. In a large number of cases, there has been no public disclosure of information on the terms and conditions of the land acquired in developing countries, and media reports have often been the sole source of information available.

This has led to calls for better governance in the land sector.

At the 2013 G8 Summit, hosted by the UK at Lough Erne, world leaders highlighted the need for greater transparency and accountability on land, open data and extractives, and pledged to work towards achieving this.

Previous Future Agricultures work has also looked at the problems of getting accurate data on land deals, following the Global Land Grabbing conference in October 2012.

Read the report

Related: Large-scale land acquisition: can we overcome transparency’s ‘dirty secret’? by Anna Locke and Andrew Morton, Future Agricultures blog

Image: Gardening near Lake Bam, by CIFOR on Flickr