What can local-level governments do to control and mitigate the commercial pressures placed on land? This is the question this working paper tries to answer. It is clear by now that the acquisition of land by foreign and domestic investors for commercial purposes may generate considerable pressures on the ground and – if unmitigated – may also involve high social and ecological risks. This is why the current debates on the “global land rush” insist on the need for increased local governance and regulation. Through this exploration on the role of local-level governments, we hope to contribute to this debate.