Land governance is at the center of development challenges in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Governments are revising land policies and practices in order to face these challenges. The project aims to (i) assist the emergence of more favorable policies and practices for securing the rights and access of family farmers to land and natural resources; and (ii) to strengthen the effectiveness of concerned stakeholders through learning, alliance building and regional cooperation.
The vision of the Land Portal Foundation is to improve land governance to benefit those with the most insecure land rights and the greatest vulnerability to landlessness through information and knowledge sharing.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is Switzerland’s international cooperation agency within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). In operating with other federal offices concerned, SDC is responsible for the overall coordination of development activities and cooperation with Eastern Europe, as well as for the humanitarian aid delivered by the Swiss Confederation.
Why do we need development policy?
Today, our lives are much more interconnected with those of people living on other continents than ever before. We have many advantages because of that. However, it also means that we have greater responsibility than previous generations, because the international community is facing challenges for which it needs to find global solutions. Radical changes need to be made – at global level and as soon as possible. Germany is taking on its responsibility for that.
Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state under the Netherlands. It lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839 but gained a larger measure of autonomy. Full independence was attained in 1867. Overrun by Germany in both world wars, it ended its neutrality in 1948 when it entered into the Benelux Customs Union and when it joined NATO the following year. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the EEC (later the EU), and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area.
Luxembourg is constitutional monarchy.
LEI is an experienced, innovative and progressive international development consulting organisation specialising in land administration, land policy and land tenure. At LEI, we work with various public, private and citizen-led stakeholders to research, design, develop, manage and monitor land sector projects. We use only the best international and nationally based experts to consult and co-design land administration solutions, from field documenting customary tenure to integrated national information system strategies.
Groupe de Recherches et d'Echanges Technologiques (GRET) (French, Group For Research and Technology Exchanges) is a non-governmental association supporting international cooperation, professional solidarity and poverty reduction in the countries of Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. It was established in the late 1970s.
Its activities include implementation of field projects, expertise, studies, research, running information and exchange networks. The main spheres of attention are:
As a service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work, we are dedicated to shaping a future worth living around the world. We have over 50 years of experience in a wide variety of areas, including economic development and employment promotion, energy and the environment, and peace and security. The diverse expertise of our federal enterprise is in demand around the globe – from the German Government, European Union institutions, the United Nations, the private sector, and governments of other countries.
Land tenure in Mekong forest landscapes: advancing the recognition of customary rights and responsible investment practices
26-27 May 2021
Recent global disruptions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted the dependence of Mekong region communities on land and forest resources. More widely recognised than ever, secure tenure and access to land and forests are preconditions for the sustainable management of the resources. The 3rd Mekong Regional Land Forum will bring together reform-minded actors within and beyond the region to engage in in-depth, interactive debate on issues that cut to the core of local tenure security and community resource management.
Day 1 of the Forum will focus on advancing customary and collective forest tenure rights. The first of these sessions will compare and examine experiences and approaches within national tenure regimes of the Mekong countries. The second session will situate these experiences within global trends, emphasising the potential for regional platforms such as ASEAN to foster more inclusive and grounded policies for the sustainable management of forests, with diverse benefits including securing local livelihoods, gender equity, and national commitments to biodiversity and climate change.
Day 2 of the Forum will focus on a key determining influence over smallholder tenure security within the Mekong countries: how to manage and respond to patterns and practices of investment in Mekong forest landscapes. The third session is aimed at ‘demystifying’ principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, principles that are designed to protect the rights of communities to land and resources while also protecting investments by avoiding land conflicts. The fourth session will highlight the potential effectiveness of tools such as the ASEAN Guidelines for Responsible Agricultural Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (ASEAN-RAI) in steering agribusiness investments in Mekong forest landscapes towards a more sustainable future.
Each Forum session will be organized in four parts:
An expert review of the topic, complemented by two case study presentations
A panel discussion including experts and representatives from government and civil society, followed by questions from the public to the speakers and panellists.
In-person and online break-out groups, allowing further time for debate among participants around a specific experience, topic or question.
Summarization of key take-aways from the sessions to stimulate further action
The sessions will take place online, with in-person events in each of the Mekong countries. All the sessions will be in English, simultaneously translated in four languages: Khmer, Lao, Myanmar and Vietnamese. Participants at the in-person events in each country will have the opportunity to debate and exchange in their own national language, while online discussions will be in English only.
The event will use innovative tools to ensure an interactive experience and offer multiple means to share questions, answers and debate during the sessions and beyond.
Summaries and selected replays from the 3rd Mekong Regional Land Forum are available below. Full replays of the plenary sessions will be posted shortly -- check back soon!
The task of opening a large event is never easy. Within a short space of time, you need to set out a clear agenda, freshening the perspective of the viewer, and then clear the decks for discussion to move forwards rather than retread old ground. Following some introductory greetings from Jean-François Cuénod of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Micah Ingalls (Team Leader MRLG) took up the challenge.
The first session of the 3rd Mekong Regional Land Forum looked to clarify an understanding of customary land tenure systems, and bring a focus upon communities living in and around forestland areas of the Mekong region. The session observed some of the policy developments that could lead to greater recognition of customary tenure and land security for community members.
The second session of the 3rd Mekong Regional Land Forum explored some of the regional and global trends in protecting local user rights in forests. In particular, it looked at some of the regional programs in social forestry and how these attempt to draw a balance between community needs and other demands for conservation, and exploitation for timber and non-timber resources.
During Session 3 of the 3rd Mekong Regional Land Forum, we will talk about free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) standards, with the intention to address common concerns of government agencies and private investors about perceived challenges and risks in relation to FPIC application. The session will highlight why FPIC is actually in the best interest of all stakeholders.
The impacts of agribusiness and plantation investments on the forests of the Mekong region have been widely documented. Taken together, much of this evidence paints a picture of global economic forces bearing down on fragile ecosystems and ethnically diverse communities of smallholder farmers. What emerges is a set of well-known trade-offs – agricultural investments can bring livelihood improvements and benefits to smallholders, but also multiple risks to people and landscapes.
Instruments like the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) are "voluntary", i.e., legally non-binding. These instruments are intended to have a direct influence on the governance of the tenure practice of states by providing an internationally recognized set of principles, and by simultaneously encouraging good practices.
In the Mekong region, agriculture (including forestry and fisheries) employs over 43% of the population and contributes to around 16% to the regional GDP, making it an important sector for investment. Agricultural investment can be key to support economic growth, enhance food security and nutrition and reduce poverty, thereby contributing to the Agenda 2030. Yet, this investment must be responsible to generate sustainable benefits.
To better understand key land tenure terms and their meaning, four bilingual glossaries have been prepared with the title "The ABC of land tenure - Key terms and their meaning with a focus on the Voluntary Guidelines and the Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security".
The recognition of customary tenure systems and responsible land-based investments that safeguard legitimate tenure rights and right holders are the interconnected main themes for mainstreaming the principles and internationally recognized good practices of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) in Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Viet Nam.