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International Knowledge Sharing and Learning Workshop on Land and Forest Tenure Reform

Background and Context

Land management remains a priority area in Lao PDR, given that access to land for rural households is fundamental to sustained poverty alleviation. Responsibility for land matters was recently transferred to the new Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE). The National Assembly plays a key role in balancing accelerated economic development and growth with ensuring that benefits from this process are distributed equitably across Lao PDR.

It is in this context the Government of Lao PDR is reviewing and revising various policies and legislation pertaining to land and natural resources. This process started in 2011, and it is planned that a revision of land use policies will be completed by the end of 2012 and related legislation by the following July. Once this is complete, the revision of other related policies and regulations such as for agriculture, forestry, mining, and water will take place.

The Committee for Economy, Planning and Finance of the National Assembly of Lao PDR has identified that the cross cutting and cross-sectoral issues associated with land including tenure, ownership, titling, leasing, and other land use types pose challenges and there is a need to take a strategic view and formulate policies to ensure that the various competing forces both economic and social are balanced to both maximize growth and alleviate poverty in Lao PDR.

Some of the key concerns, identified by the Committee for Economy, Planning and Finance of the National Assembly of Lao PDR include:

  • Ensuring that the vast majority of Lao households both urban and rural areas have secure land rights for example acknowledgement of traditional land rights to their land in the form of officially registered land user rights before land is opened up to foreign investors;
  • Ensuring clarity and consistency in the legal framework – laws and implementing guidelines;
  • Ensuring effective institutional and administrative capacity at central and local levels to administer and monitor land transactions;
  • Raising awareness amongst citizens about the opportunities and risks associated with land ownership before foreign investors are invited to come to Lao PDR; and
  • Ensuring transparency in all land related transactions so that citizens and local communities can monitor how ell laws and regulations are being implemented – effectively performing the “watchdog” function at local level.

Over the past three years, RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests, under the umbrella of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), has supported a set of activities that aim to promote learning from international experiences on land and forest tenure rights. This proposed workshop is designed to provide the knowledge and understanding on land and forest tenure through sharing of international experiences, to a wider set of decision-makers at this very crucial time of review and revision of land policies in Lao PDR. 

Objectives of the Workshop

  • To learn from the experience of other countries how they have dealt with the question of state, private and community ownership over land and forest resources;
  • To distil lessons from international experience relevant to the ongoing policy revision process unfolding in Lao PDR; and
  • To create a deeper awareness of land and forest tenure issues amongst a broad segment of policy-makers and other stakeholders of Lao PDR.

Expected Outcomes

  • Policy provisions for balanced distribution of land and forest resource ownership in the revised policies and the laws in Lao PDR are better informed;
  • Key decision-makers in Lao PDR are exposed to a broad set of options for land and forest tenure reform as implemented across the world;
  • Greater clarification of objective and processes of land and forest tenure reform in Lao PDR; and
  • Establishing bilateral relationship with counterparts from other countries for continuous learning and exchange.

Agenda will be available shortly.

For more information, please contact Naomi Basik at nbasik@rightsandresources.org or Ganga Dahal at ganga@recoftc.org. 

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