Interest in farmland sparks principles launchOctober 2011
Principles for investing responsibly in farmland have been established with the goal of improving the sustainability, transparency and accountability of these investments.
Institutions with $1.3tn (£846bn, €965bn) in managed assets have written the Farmland Principles amid increased interest in agricultural land. The principles include best practice guidelines for environmental sustainability, human rights, resource rights and reporting.
The principles were developed by huge pension funds, including Sweden’s AP2, the Dutch PGGM and the US teachers’ fund TIAA-CREF.
Key points include compulsory environmental impact assessments, the institution of free, prior and informed consent from affected communities, and “respect for the rule of law, even where it is poorly enforced”.
The participants say: “While such standards already exist for other sectors, best-practice standards for farmland management are at an early stage. We are committed to contributing actively to their further development.”
Other institutional investors have been invited to endorse the principles, for which investors’ responsibility to expand and revise is itself a guideline.
Christina Olivecrona, sustainability analyst at AP2, said: “Environmental and ethical issues are an important part of our investment process. Having recently decided to invest in farmland, AP2 actively supported the development of the Farmland Principles with the goal of improving sustainability and transparency in this asset class.”
Rising investment by UK farmers in renewable energy has shown their increasing commitment in the field. A surge in interest in the government’s feed-in tariff energy scheme, under which homeowners and landowners are paid for the surplus energy they glean from renewable sources such as solar panels, is being viewed as a reaction against volatile commodity prices.
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