The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) recently hosted the Sustainable Investments in Agriculture Executive Training program for global leaders who promote agricultural investments and rural development. Ellen Harpel of Smart Incentives was pleased to serve as an instructor for the course. Her training module on investment incentives covered: 

  • Incentives and foreign direct investment (FDI)
  • Why we use incentives
  • Incentive types and effectiveness
  • Evaluating costs and benefits
  • Managing incentives for results
  • Linking agricultural incentives to sustainable development goals (SDGs)

Executives participating in the programs held a robust conversation around incentive use for major investments and financing programs to assist small holders. Five themes emerged around ways to improve incentive outcomes for people and places:

1. Improving local governance capacity. Decisions may be made at the national level without sufficient inputs from the area receiving the investment. Local governments and organizations may not have the information or expertise to advocate for their long-term interests.

2. Expanding or leveraging local economic and business capacity to take advantage of new opportunities stemming from incentivized investments. 

3. Enhancing financing programs designed for farmers with small holdings in terms of financial sustainability, outreach, usability, and project identification.

4. Making sure the immediate financial and political imperative at the national level to attract FDI does not override the local need for long-term sustainable economic activity that avoids environmental degradation.

5. Finding better ways to ensure project accountability, including enforcing agreements, providing greater transparency into activities, utilizing voluntary agreements with communities, and creating mechanisms for local engagement as projects proceed.

 For more information on this topic, please see:

CCSI Investment in Land and Agriculture

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

FAO and Sustainable Development Goals

UNCTAD Inter-Agency Working Group on Responsible Agricultural Investment

World Bank Agriculture and Food Global Practice