Executive Training Program on Sustainable Investments in Agriculture

Date: July 12-21, 2017
Location: Columbia University

Download the 2017 Executive Training Brochure here.

Increased investment in agriculture can accelerate sustainable development and help to meet growing food security needs at domestic, regional, and global levels. Yet, if not structured equitably or regulated carefully, investments can also lead to social and environmental degradation. These risks have only heightened as investments in land for agriculture have become increasingly attractive to foreign investors and host countries alike.

In seeking to promote responsible investment in agriculture and encourage sustainable development, countries face both challenges and opportunities. These include: developing robust legal and fiscal frameworks; negotiating equitable deals with investors; leveraging investments for greater sustainable development outcomes; and mitigating environmental impacts while protecting human rights.

To help stakeholders in addressing these issues, the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) developed an executive training program on international investments in agriculture. This annual program was held for the first time at Columbia University in March 2015.

The program adopts an interdisciplinary approach to sustainable investments in agriculture. It provides an overview of pressing issues related to agricultural investments, as well as an introduction to relevant practical skills. The overarching goal of the course is to equip participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to support responsible agricultural investment, and to facilitate a rich dialogue about best practices from around the globe. By working through real case studies with practitioners and experts in the field, participants focus on how to use analytical tools and frameworks to harness agricultural investments for sustainable development.

The 2017 Executive Training Program brochure is available for download here.

Who should attend?

This interdisciplinary program is designed for mid-level public sector officials and civil society representatives from low- and middle-income countries, whose responsibilities relate to investments, agriculture, land or rural development. A select number of representatives from development agencies and the private sector may also be admitted. (Please note that all participants must be able to read and communicate in English.)


The course draws primarily from among faculty and experts at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs. Outside experts also teach specific topics related to their expertise. Faculty included:

  • Luiz Amaral, Global Executive Manager for GFW Commodities and Finance, World Resources Institute
  • Ward Anseeuw, Research Fellow, CIRAD
  • Esther Delbourg, Chief of Staff to Group Head of Regulation, Sustainability and Insurance Foresight, Group AXA
  • Bruce Gilchrist, Partner, Hogan Lovells US LLP
  • Michael Jarvis, Executive Director, Transparency & Accountability Initiative
  • Kiersten Johnson, Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor, USAID Bureau for Food Security
  • Tiernan Mennen, Vice President, Governance, Abt Associates
  • Amanda Richardson, Co-Founder and Program Director, Resource Equity
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
  • Senior legal, economics, and technical staff of CCSI

What past participants have said:

Shyamal Chandradathsingh, Vice President, Investor Sourcing, Invest in Trinidad & Tobago: “The quality of the presenters was top notch … I highly recommend it.”

Mohamed Coulibaly, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Mali; Consultant, Institute of Research and the Promotion of Development Alternatives (IRPAD): “The training offered me the opportunity to meet and share experience with people from different countries, continents and different backgrounds for a mutually reinforcing experience.”

Mamadou Diarrah, Senior Development Officer, African Union Commission: “I want to express my sincere appreciation to the organizers for such a wonderful training workshop. … [T]he expertise of the presenters and organizers substantially raised my knowledge bar. Additionally, the discussion with the other participants opened my mind to new and exciting ideas from other parts of the world that could be tested in my region of interest in order to bolster investments into agriculture for the benefit of the populations.”

Yuliya Neyman, Land Governance and Legal Advisor, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID): “I found the CCSI Executive Training on Sustainable Investment to be practical, engaging and diverse. The topics presented were cutting edge … the caliber of speakers was diverse and impressive … [and] perhaps the most interesting part of the training was the diversity and experience of the participants, who hailed from five continents and spanned the range from private sector to government agencies and academia.”

Christian Schulze, Officer, Climate, Energy and Tenure Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): “I can highly recommend the training course …. I gained new knowledge and practical skills to address some of the key challenges posed by international investments in agriculture, which will be valuable for my future work.”

The Honorable George Wisner, Executive Director, National Investment Commission, Liberia on behalf of Ms. Monen Jacquelynn Duoe (Special Assistant to Hon. Wisner): “I am pleased to present my compliments and to extend, on behalf of the National Investment Commission of Liberia, thanks and appreciation …. Ms. Monen Jacquelynn Duoe has since returned and is imbued with a lot of confidence to help us move our development agenda forward.”


If you have any questions about the program or if you would be interested in sponsoring participants for the program, please contact us at ccsi@law.columbia.edu.