MRLG Land Knowledge Sharing and Dialogue Platform
Feedback and Mobilization Workshop

1. Background

Securing the tenurial security of smallholder farmers in CLMV countries to improve food security, livelihoods and increased environmental sustainability have to be tackled at multiple levels. There are already a number of information and data platforms in the region, yet few provide space for dialogue or discussion, nor do they link national experiences to regional dialogues. There are also few that focus on cross-cutting analysis and repackaging of information for specific audiences.

As part of the Mekong Regional Land Governance Project, SDC has been assessing the feasibility to design a new communication and dialogue platform to complement MRLG existing activities. The platform would assist MRLG reform actors and partners reach and engage with a wider group of stakeholders including high level decision-makers, private sector groups, farmer federations and media.

From September – October, the design mission[1] has carried out an assessment of key actors and audiences, information systems and institutions involved. It has talked more than 50 people in each of the core countries that MRLG works in to discuss with partners, key target audience as well as met with discussed potential collaborators and users of the platform. It has also reached out to regional and international initiatives to discuss potential linkages and collaboration.

2. Objectives of the workshop

The purpose of the workshop is to present the draft platform concept and further define priority actions and areas for collaboration. By the end of the workshop it is expected participants will have:
  • Reviewed the overall concept for the platform and given feedback
  • Provided inputs into the activities and implementation modes of the platform
  • Identified priority activities that could be carried out within the coming months.
  • Given commitments for collaborating in the platform

3. Key questions to answer by end of the workshop

Questions around Recommendations to improve platform
  • How can we reach beyond current network/we-space – do we have the right activities/spaces? Who else do we need to bring in?
  • What are priority activities that we can achieve in the next two years ? What is missing from the current concept?
  • What is the content of the web portal and how will it interact with other on-line systems?
  • How does the platform support/complement/align with other plans in the international/region/national levels?
  • How do various initiatives supported by SDC/MRLG align, fit and work together (Open Mekong, Research Platform, One-Map, Rights-LINK, Innovation funds, etc.)

Questions around Commitments/participation:
  • How do partners want to get involved/contribute?
  • What do they want to see the platform doing? What do they not want to see the platform doing ?
  • Identify key partnerships and which organisation will do what
  • Governance of the platform

4. Workshop Process and Agenda

The 2 day workshop is designed to sustain momentum for the platform and operationalize some components. As most participants have been consulted, the workshop will focus on action planning and commitments rather than going back into design. Sessions are tailored to receive inputs from participants and their commitments.

The first morning will set the overall context and present key issues from the diagnostic and the overall platform concept. In the afternoon we will focus on getting inputs into sharpening activities in specific areas of the platform. Participants are also invited to share their own updates on information and dialogue related activities.

On Day 2, we will work on the institutional structure of the platform and how it would link to initiatives, nationally, regionally and globally. We will also look at areas for collaboration and linkages to different initiatives in the region. We will identify potential prototype activities that can be done immediately following the workshop to keep up momentum.

The full agenda can be found here

5. What to prepare

Participants invited have already been part of the preliminary assessment, provided inputs or expressed interest in collaborating. Based on this we expect that participants will be actively involved in the lead up to the workshop and be able to commit to participating or collaborating in platform activities.

We ask for your following contributions prior to joining the workshop:
- Read the draft concept and provide comments/suggestions
- Look for areas where you/your organization would like to contribute
Let us know if you want to present in the open space – an initiative, concept or even have participants help you solve a problem you are facing.

6. Rational and entry points for the platform.

There are already a number of information and data platforms in the region. Yet, few provide space for dialogue, discussion or link national experiences to regional dialogues. There are also few that focus on cross-cutting analysis and repackage this information for specific audiences.

Some of the key entry points identified from the survey and assessment include:
  • Solutions based platform: There is scope to develop the platform around the concept of ‘solutions’ and best practices as a basis for engaging with key targets groups who are looking for concrete ways to implement policies or develop business. The solutions platform would provide an entry point to build upon MRLG activities, raise visibility of partners and improve opportunities for learning and sharing. The platform would also help partners to document and appropriately package solutions and learning for key target audiences.

  • Experience sharing/learning: MRLG partners expressed interest to learn and share around key issues and challenge they are trying to solve particularly around engaging private sector and finding ways to better solve land related conflicts.

  • Sense-making: While there are a number of data platforms that provide useful information, this is often hard to access and understand. The making sense part of the platform would enable MRLG to repackage and harvest ideas coming form the research network – issues and work from the research network need to be closely aligned.

  • Flagship products: ‘Flagship products’ can generate dialogue or discussion (see WLE Mekong Hydropower Map). For instance there is no “State of Mekong Land” series that provides a comprehensive overview of foreign direct investment, land tenure or issues in the region. Compiling existing data and developing an annual (or at least regular) “State of Land” series can be an important tool for dialogue, convening power as it would be used by all actors.

  • Collective action and linking-national and regional issues: A regional approach promotes collective action and counter balances emerging large-scale commercial interests in the region. The need for a regional perspective on land, demands that alliances are built between reform actors across the region, both for mutual learning as well as a way to promote change. This can also be complemented with strategies to engage source country private sector and governments by influencing investment banks, foreign direct investment guidelines of source country such as Thailand, China or Viet Nam and of source country policies companies.

  • Opportunities to shift the debate and bring in media influencers Working with social media, journalists, artists and others to make land issues better known. There is a strong call to target media to influence politicians and urban middle class – need to better define who this is and what we would like them to do.

[1]The design team includes: Michael Victor (lead design consultant), Phouttasinh Phimmachanh (community based knowledge management expert), Nick Jewel (information systems expert) and Stew Motta (Private Sector Consultant)