Responsibility to the Rescue: Governing Global Private Financial Investment in Agriculture


This paper examines the recent rise of initiatives for responsible agricultural investment and provides a preliminary assessment of their likely success in curbing the ecological and social costs associated with the growth in private financial investment in the sector over the past decade. I argue that voluntary responsible investment initiatives for agriculture are likely to face similar weaknesses to those experienced in responsible investment initiatives more generally. These include vague and difficult to enforce guidelines, low participation rates, an uneven business case, and confusion arising from multiple and competing initiatives. In addition, the large diversity of investors and high degree of complexity of financial investments further complicate efforts to discern who bears the burden of responsibility in practice. As a result, there is a strong likelihood that voluntary governance initiatives for responsible agricultural investment will shift discourse more than they will change practice.


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