On 26-27 May this year, the 3rd Mekong Land Forum will be held online. Mekong Regional Land Governance (MRLG) is hosting the Forum, for which Land Portal is providing technical support. The Forum will provide in-depth discussion and debate into land tenure security and community resource management, focused through the two main workstreams of MRLG, namely Customary Tenure and Responsible Agricultural Investment. Each day of the Forum will be dedicated to one of these workstreams, bringing together reform actors, community leaders and researchers.
In a series of blogs, Daniel Hayward brings you accessible summaries for each session in the Forum. Interested in customary land tenure in forest landscapes? Or how principles of Responsible Agricultural Investment can support the land tenure rights of smallholders? Get the lowdown here.
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.