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Laos learning on Responsible Agribusiness in Lao PDR
On Tuesday, 7th of June the L&A Working Group on Responsible Investment held a wrap up meeting to reflect on the study tour reporting and working group alliance activity over the past 9 months. The group, coordinated by Justine Sylvester of VFI and Violaine Fourile LIWG, has successfully completed a first phase to facilitate and coordinate a range of learning activities looking into private sector engagement for responsible investment in agribusiness. During the meeting, the group commented on the draft version of a case study report “Towards responsible agri-business practices in Laos”. This case study is based on an exposure visit in December last year to two companies, Stora Enso and Olam, who presented their Corporate Socially Responsible practices of plantation business operations in Champassak and Xekong. This offered a great opportunity to the group to meet local community representatives and get their feedback on companies’ activities.
There are still some changes needed to complete the case study, hence the final validation of the document could not be done at this Workshop. However, members will continue to follow up suggested modifications and comments. Additionally, a four-page brochure based on the lessons learnt of the case study for Companies will be produced.
The group members emphasized that there are plenty of areas of common ground to be found between the triangle of CSO-Government-Private Sector groups to understand each other towards achieving sustainable development in Laos PDR. More dialogue, transparency and space for roles is needed. This Learning and Alliance activity has provided a suitable learning experience for this dialogue and to improve the mutual understanding.
At the end, workshop participants made an evaluation of their nine-month collaboration. The highlights of this first phase were clearly the CSR Land Investment National Seminar in November 2015, followed by the December study tour, and most of all the lively exchanges and sharing within multi-stakeholder group formed by MPI-IPD, MAF-DALAM, LIWG, VFI, JVC, Stora Enso, Oxfam, and Helvetas.
The participants praised the good coordination and preparation of the activities by the focal points. The group mainly missed more consistent participation from some stakeholders in the activity and thus look forward to expanding the working group to attract more joint efforts and new experiences to share with each other. Importantly, the group encourages Lao nationals to join to find new solutions towards responsible investment together.