MRLG and partners join the World Bank Conference

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MRLG and partners join the World Bank Conference


30 March 2017

The World Bank’s annual conference on Land and Poverty was bigger than ever in 2017, drawing a record 1,300 participants from around the world.

This year, the figure included five representatives of the Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project, who drew particular attention to cross-sectoral partnerships for tenure security, the tenure needs of smallholder farmers and the opportunities presented by scrutinising land investment flows.
Our representatives were active across all days of the conference, including preconference and masterclasses.

Justine Sylvester of Village Focus International was an invited panellist for the Monday session, How Can Climate Investment Support Sustainable Land Use?

Drawing from her organisation’s experience in Lao PDR, she emphasised the opportunities presented by partnerships between civil society and the private sector in promoting community land tenure rights.

In a second discussion, Addressing Land Rights in Value Chains, Ms Sylvester specifically discussed the need to identify and cultivate shared values between stakeholders.
On the second day of the conference, Ms Sylvester joined Phouvong Phaophongsavath of the Investment and Planning Department within the Lao PDR Ministry of Planning and Investment to jointly present on the Lao experience of agri-business.

Their presentation enriched the discussion entitled whether agribusiness investment can enhance local welfare, underscoring the benefits of multi-sector collaboration between and amongst government, private sector and civil society.

Wednesday saw a contribution from MRLG consultant Jean-Christophe Diepart, who presented his paper They Will Need Land! The current land tenure situation and future land allocation needs of smallholder farmers in Cambodia.

His work estimated that a significant amount of additional agricultural land may be required for small-holder farmers in Cambodia up to 2030, as rural population growth is anticipated to outstrip the economic transition away from agriculture in the short term.
With this in mind, he suggested a clear priority to coordinate land reform processes across the country, to minimise rent seeking and conflict, as well as to better support rural livelihoods.

A further partner supported by MRLG was Inclusive Development International (IDI), with co-founder and legal director Natalie Bugalski hosting a Masterclass on the Friday of the conference.

Follow the Money, based on a project that has received MRLG funding through our Innovation Fund Grant Facility over the past 18 months, saw Ms Bugalski lead a hands-on session with participants guided in the process of tracing investment flows to land development projects, identifying investor pressure points and developing an advocacy plan with the aim to provide support to communities impacted by harmful investment projects.

FULL VIDEO of the presentation of Justine Sylvester and Phouvong Phaophongsavath

Link to the case study of Justine Sylvester

Link to the report of Jean Christophe Diepart

Link to the Follow the Money to justice