"Pandemic was the turning point" on stimulating healthy and fruitful debate on land issues | Land Portal

In the fifteen years since its inception, those of us on the Land Portal’s small but agile team have had to be truly open - open to keeping up with technological advances, open to growing as the open data movement has bloomed and open to pivoting in unexpected ways. Our commitment has always been to be on the cutting edge of creating, curating and disseminating land governance information by fostering an inclusive and accessible data landscape and this requires flexibility. Amidst the plethora of changes that have taken place in this time, like for so many others, the pandemic was the turning point, specifically for myself and my colleagues on the communications team, when it came to reconfiguring our preconceived notions of what it means to incite healthy and fruitful debate on land issues.  

The pandemic broke down our concepts of space both personal and global , but what our small but fast-moving team was able to do was to tap into the unrealized potential that burgeons when traditional boundaries and siloes, like geographic and spatial ones, are broken down. What emerged was an opportunity to bring unlikely allies into common and collective virtual spaces - spaces that transcend geographical boundaries, enabling widened participation, a larger variety in perspectives and more inclusive collaboration.  It was during this time that we planted the seeds for our longest-standing webinar series, the Land Dialogues webinar series. The series promotes the centrality of Indigenous and community land rights in advancing global efforts to halt the climate crisis, achieving a healthy planet and forwarding the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It focuses on the importance of formally recognising and securing the customary lands of Indigenous Peoples and local communities as a crucial contribution to the overall climate health of the planet. Other notable webinar series we have organized in consortium with other partners are our ALIGN webinar series, as well as the Whose Land? webinar series. 

Today, the Land Dialogues webinar series, the organization of which I am thrilled to lead with my colleagues in the Tenure Facility,  receives an average of 980 registrations and 330 live participants per webinar and is a signature program. Because understanding and knowledge don’t come after one webinar or one article, we return to topics, inviting familiar and new voices to participate. We provide previews leading to COP but also follow-up to refine our understanding of what actually took place. Through this we have engaged in deepened collaborations with a variety of like-minded organizations from global to local, like the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, the Forest Peoples Programme, the AMPB Mesoamerica, AMAN in Indonesia, the Endorois Indigenous Women Empowerment Network in Kenya, Fepikecha in Peru and many others.  

Over the years, we’ve been humbled at the trust that has been instilled in us in being a leading destination for land governance data and information.  Averaging nearly 80K visits each month, with 70% of them coming from the Global South, our success lies in our ability to convene a diverse array of information-providers and spark conversations that capture new insights and anticipate challenges. Beyond the monthly visits our platform receives, the Land Portal has nearly 26K subscribers, of which 8,750 stakeholders are specifically interested in Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities related subjects. These are the stakeholders who tune in to the Land Dialogues on a regular basis and follow IPLC-related news from the Land Portal. 

I’ve often asked myself what’s next when it comes to growing the platform. We are now working hard to turn the loyal and engaged audiences for the Land Dialogues, as well as the other discussions we host, into proper communities of practice. As a team we have built the foundations for this over many years through our transparency and dedication to gathering audiences around key topics of interest, and we plan to do this first and foremost, by continuing to forge partnerships with Indigenous and local community led organizations so that we can continue to select topics and areas of concern that matter most. 

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