This panel took a critical look at the land governance orthodoxy that has consolidated on the heels of the financial crisis and outcry over "global land grabs" at the end of the 2000s.
La tenencia consuetudinaria se encuentra con las inversiones agrícolas responsables
Boletín de Perspectivas País N.1 / Mayo 2021
In some closing words to the Forum, Vicky Tauli-Corpuz (UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, United Nations) applauded the attention given to customary land tenure. For communities there has always been a struggle for their practices to be acknowledged, despite the fact that these existed long before the arrival of state governments. She found much promise in some of the legal work taking place in the Mekong region.
The second day of the Forum built upon discussions around customary land tenure in the Mekong region, but with a focus upon private sector investment practices, particularly concerning agriculture and the potential impact on smallholder farmers, the rural poor, and the environment.
The third session of the Forum explored the nature of FPIC (Free, Prior and Informed Consent) and how it fits into the Mekong landscape, using case studies from a Vietnamese coffee project, and a company seeking land for eucalyptus plantations in Lao PDR.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.