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Agriculture, Water and Investment

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Agriculture is on the frontlines of nearly all urgent global challenges, from hunger to climate change to rising inequality.

We provide high-quality advice to governments to help transform public and private investment into a vehicle for change: strengthening food security and livelihoods, while protecting land rights and responsibly managing natural resources.

Over 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, 70 per cent of whom live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture provides a livelihood for more people globally than any other sector, representing almost 50 per cent of total employment in poor countries. Investment in agriculture has a greater poverty reduction effect—especially amongst the poorest people—than investment in any other sector.

This is why increased investment in agriculture and food systems in low- and middle-income countries is desperately needed. When done right, increased investment can help boost production, generate employment, increase incomes and promote economic development. But when done badly, it can exacerbate existing inequalities, undermine the livelihoods of small farmers, particularly women, and significantly deplete land, water, soil and other natural resources.

Ensuring positive impacts from foreign investment requires robust policies, laws and practices. IISD works with governments and policy-makers to build the laws and policies needed to maximize the benefits—and minimize the risks—of foreign investment.

We also work to improve the flow of public investment to agriculture. We joined forces with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to measure the scale of public spending needed to end hunger. We found that it will cost an extra USD 11 billion per year from now until 2030 to largely eradicate hunger, a central part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Along with IFPRI and Cornell University we have now embarked on a new project, Ceres2030: Sustainable solutions to end hunger, which combines state-of-the-art modelling techniques with expert evidence to build consensus on the best way to end hunger sustainably, with costs and effective solutions.

  • Blog
    Learning from Experience: How an African parliamentarians' network is looking to mainstream gender considerations into agriculture

    Learning from Experience: How an African parliamentarians' network is looking to mainstream gender considerations into agriculture

    The challenges to women’s participation in agricultural production and economic opportunities are often deeply nuanced and specific to their regional, national and local contexts. This is the first part of a series covering ECOWAS network meetings on gender considerations in agriculture.

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  • Book
    Modelling for Sustainable Development: New decisions for a new age

    Modelling for Sustainable Development: New decisions for a new age

    This book provides a detailed overview of models used in designing projects and policies that integrate sustainable development considerations and objectives. 

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  • Blog
    Explorer les projets d'investissement agricole

    Explorer les projets d'investissement agricole

    Un voyage de deux semaines explore les moyens de maximiser les avantages et de minimiser les risques des outils d’investissement agricole en Afrique.

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  • Blog
    Touring Agricultural Investment Projects

    Touring Agricultural Investment Projects

    A two-week trip explores how to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of agricultural investment tools in Africa.

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  • Best Practices
    ASEAN Guidelines for Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry

    ASEAN Guidelines for Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry

    These guidelines, adopted by ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry, focus on promoting responsible investment in the region's food, agriculture and forestry sectors.

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  • Report
    Leveraging Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Agriculture: A Guide for Development Organizations Based on the Sustainable Development Goals

    Leveraging Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Agriculture: A Guide for Development Organizations Based on the Sustainable Development Goals

    Our report, available in English and French, explains how voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) can be used as a tool to meet the SDGs and targets related to gender equality and women’s empowerment in agriculture.

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  • Blog
    Canada could take inspiration from U.S. environmental policy preventing algal blooms

    Canada could take inspiration from U.S. environmental policy preventing algal blooms

    Recent US legislation to combat algal blooms and protect fresh water shows bipartisan environmental action is still possible—and sets an example for other countries.

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  • Policy Brief
    The Farmer and Her Husband: Legal innovations for women in contract farming

    The Farmer and Her Husband: Legal innovations for women in contract farming

    Read our policy brief to learn how contracts, if designed with women’s interests in mind, can help foster more balanced relationships between farmers and buyers, as well as female farmers and their husbands.

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  • Blog
    Should Farmers Who Follow Sustainable Practices Be Rewarded?

    Should Farmers Who Follow Sustainable Practices Be Rewarded?

    Meeting sustainability standards can have valuable benefits for smallholder farmers, but what happens when the product fails to sell?

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  • Report
    Case Study Research on Offsets for Water Quality Management

    Case Study Research on Offsets for Water Quality Management

    This case study research examines six water quality trading/offset programs from Canada, the United States and New Zealand and provides lessons relevant to offsetting nutrients, specifically phosphorus and nitrogen, in Manitoba. 

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