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Legal Tools for Citizen Empowerment: Strengthening rights and voices in natural resource investment

Lorenzo Cotula

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IIED’s Legal Tools for Citizen Empowerment programme supports local-to-global efforts through developing analysis, testing new approaches, and sharing lessons from innovation. The work under this programme is described in this project outline.

As natural resource investments increase pressures on the world’s land and resources, the effective use of legal tools, by non-governmental organisations, producer organisations and citizens themselves, has become an important ingredient of strategies to secure local land rights, ensure that investment contributes to inclusive sustainable development, and hold government and companies to account.

Around the world, citizens’ groups are taking action to change the way investments are happening, to protect the rights of citizens and the environment for a fairer and more sustainable world. They are developing innovative approaches – from grassroots action to claim rights and engage in legal reforms, to mobilising international human rights bodies or making use of investor and company grievance mechanisms, through to scrutinising international investment treaties, contracts and arbitration.

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Can a half-acre of dry earth be more precious than gold? To farmers, herders and foragers in some of the world's poorest countries, the answer is very literally yes. Gold mining, agribusiness and other natural resource investments typically promise new jobs and public revenues. But they can also push poorer groups off their land and pollute their waterways.

More at www.iied.org:
Introduction to legal tools for citizen empowerment

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