Taken from Participants from the introductory session:
Expectations
  • exploration of ecosystems approach
  • way forward for SDC support
  • concretizing ideas on regional platforms and roles of governments
  • new ideas, big and small
  • more about stimulating online groups
  • balance between self-organization and central control
  • financial sustainability of platform
  • understand how people perceive platforms
  • understand what people are looking for
  • to be inspired, to make new connections, to drink lots of coffee
  • understand platform concept better
  • light atmosphere
  • identify gaps + needs of people
  • Ideas for “better” digital tools
  • reflection on what actually doesn’t work
  • lessons learned
  • better direction on regional platform potential
  • to learn about other experiences with platforms
  • learning about successful platforms in the region
  • to learn something new and exchange knowledge of challenges and solutions
  • understand different platforms/strategies from participants
  • better aggregate information
  • inspire political will to act on it
  • Clear regional path forward for the GMS, integrated regional strategy
  • increased awareness on ongoing activities
  • better theory of what platforms do and don’t
  • Define value statement of platforms
  • clarity on platform, how my work with MRLG repository links to the idea of platform
  • concrete strategies to link country knowledge
  • platform design/ideas informed by understanding of use, action, and influence
  • collective thinking on priorities/strategies
  • better understanding of technical issues


Questions
  • how can a platform be efficient and effective in delivering information to the public
  • what new platforms can add value?
  • Who are we really targeting?
  • large number of platforms exist - is there a need for another one?
  • what can a primarily geo-spatial portal offer this community?
  • how can we bridge ideas and funding?
  • how can we learn about those not involved in any platform, what their needs are?
  • are there any examples of sustainable platforms?
  • does organizing support for land rights activists count as a platform?
  • How can regional platforms work?
  • who needs better access to information?
  • how do platforms relate to social movements?
  • how can they create more transnational/global connections?
  • what will be the institutional base to legitimize a platform?

Notes from Fishbowl exercises on best practices and lessons in how platforms can influence decisions or lead to positive change

Problems with extant information systems:
-not easily accessible, especially government
-if accessible, then not the information that is most relevant
-if it’s what is relevant, then not in local language (Lao)
Lead to the development of the Lao44 website - now over 2000 documents in Lao
Get requests for new information and resources all the time, from government, students, etc.

There is a hunger for content

LaoFAB - started as a 12 person google group
-developed organically, grew on its own
-start with local needs and develop a potential solution

Some platforms die...and that’s OK

The evolution of platforms is unpredictable
-often, there are unintended uses

Like the Land Issues Working Group
Sometimes there are conflicts, like in 2012 - conflicts in the political environment
-a question of survival
-How and why to keep networks going? Worth it because now, the group is strong

Open Development → organic
work w/ grassroots groups
not capturing information
competing information
some info not getting out

Start collecting and mapping information
MAPS - really visualize the issues
powerful way to show information

Remove self from advocacy to get credibility

Champions - build around them “we make a road by walking”
There are sensitive issues, but you have to just start and see what happens

Difficult to get access to government information - true for people within the ministries, too
So CDE develops LaoDecide
-start with ministry of statistics - work with them to improve databases
-upscale to other ministries, reduce overlap, harmonize data

How do we deal with politically sensitive topics?

Polygons v.s. points: what underlines data systems? Why did they develop the way they did?
GIZ precursor to LaoDecide
-tried to create an inventory but there were no documents
-information wasn’t being delivered to local governments
Important Lesson: problems with data inventories can reflect the problems that exist with the concession process

Ownership of data + platform is important
easy as a platform grows, involves more stakeholders

Why is data not being shared?
No confidence - is the data correct?

Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to ask for permission

Collecting: data/info vs. people - which is the priority

Farmers - are they beneficiaries or ACTORS of platforms?

Danger with creating social movements

Crowd sourcing - Data V.S Points of View

Creating safe space - a role for SDC?

Need to tailor information and platforms to your audience, be it private sector, government, etc.

Over time, you might be able to bring all actors together
BUT! you can’t do this too early
Multistakeholder platforms take time and trust

Don’t overestimate the power of bilateral relationships
-be careful (SDC example of Haiti with unintended negative consequences)
-shouldn’t push people to take risks because we can leave, but they can’t
One way to establish multi-stakeholder platforms about sensitive issues is to get away from advocacy: presenting information without commenting on it

RightsLink → bring together many actors (gov, private sector, NGOs, local gov, villagers)
difficult to find a common ground
can bring them together but difficult to follow up because everyone has a day job
training youth is a good way to bridge gaps
educating people of their rights is a way to level the playing field

Resource center + regular events
raise issues about land and give access to resources

There are many things already happening

Don’t want to push people to do things that put them at risk, but also don’t want to block people to and stop organic processes

Myanmar - sometimes difficult to reconcile opinions, restructured network into an organization
keep the network by working through partners

MYLAF - based on LaoFAB
people join because they are hungry for info

Maybe it’s better not to try and appeal to everyone: location, stakeholders

Internet is only a support for platforms, platform is more of a conversation

Example of an off line platform - mining operation was creating a lot of noise pollution
-village lodge a complaint to the government, but there was no response
So invite an acquaintance, who was a government official, to go fishing
- experience the problem first hand, make sure it’s fixed

Thaibaan videos - a social learning process

Chinese investment for Bokeo Province - posted the video to Facebook
In this way, bypass the personal liability - bypass by using social media
Capacity building on how to use social media to share information with minimal risks

Community Forestry in Cambodia
-Network with CSOs, Governments, NGOs
-share information about REDD+, policy, etc.
-not perfect but build capacity to voice opinions to policy makers
cooperating informally creates a space for debate

Are we ready to finance an open-ended, long-term platform?

How do we interface w/ extant networks and different actors?

Social media is important but we can’t underestimate the importance of repositories
they make it so we can move on

Students: using LaoFAB repository has had unintended positive consequences

By making information available we give people power
Maybe not directly useful for villagers, but important if it influences policy

Translation issues mean many are excluded from the conversation
very messy, expensive, difficult, time consuming

2 challenges:
  • we have basic foundations. how do we make the social movements happen? how do we make the informal formal?
  • what are the regional mandates? are they compatible?