VIENTIANE, Lao PDR – MI representatives participated in the 2nd MRLG Regional Stakeholder Consultation Workshop held at Mercure Hotel in Vientiane, Lao PDR on Feb. 23-24, 2016.
Attended by over 90 participants from 6 countries working in the Mekong region including Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, Director of the Agricultural Development and Commercialization (ADC) Department, the theme of the workshop was Towards joint planning and alliance-building with the aim of improving policy and practice for smallholder farmer tenure security.
Mr. Martin Hasler, SDC Country Director to Lao PDR, along with Mr. Leeber Leebouapao, Director General of NERI, formally opened the workshop by encouraging the continuous participation of all development partners, together with the MRLG, to successfully contribute to equitable land access and tenure security for smallholder farmers.
"We hope that this dialogue among various stakeholders will open a good opportunity for sharing lessons learned and exploring solutions together. The government is optimistic that this cooperation can further develop and lead to innovative activities in favor of smallholder tenure security, sustainable development, and good management of natural resources," Mr. Hasler said.
The two-day workshop was conducted to initiate regional learning and alliance building activities in three priority topics: customary tenure, large scale land acquisition (concessions), and private sector engagement. The regional event presented research and project results, provided opportunities for consulting on continuing activities, and opened the space for joint action planning towards the development and strengthening of multi-stakeholder alliances around the three priority topics for regional influence.
Prior to the main stakeholder workshop, MRLG organized smaller preparatory workshops on Feb. 22 to present preliminary and final findings and coordinate activities within the three thematic groups: Recognition of customary tenure group (full day); Evidence-based research for land scale land acquisition group (full day); and Private engagement for responsible investment group (half day).
MI, along with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Lao PDR, Asia Indigenous People's Pact (AIPP) Thailand, Oxfam, National Economic Research Institute (NERI) – Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), and Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD), was among MRLG's key partners in developing various short term activities to largely take stock and lay ground work for regional exchange in the three priority areas.
Other workshop participants came from various academic and research institutions, and governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental organizations, such as Deutsche Gedellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MOIA) Cambodia, Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), and The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC), among others.
The regional workshop is a follow-up to the first regional consultation workshop which took place in Bangkok, Thailand in February 2015.
To know more about MRLG and what they do, you may visit their website at www.mrlg.org.