A technical seminar and knowledge sharing on Strengthening the Recognition of Customary Tenure and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in ASEAN: Status, Challenges, and Opportunities will be held on 11 and 12 November 2021 at 2:00 – 5:30 PM Manila (GMT+8) via Zoom.
This event is organized by NTFP-EP and the CSO Forum on Social Forestry in ASEAN, in collaboration with the ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry and the ASEAN Secretariat.
Tenure covers multiple rights, including, at a minimum, the right to access, the right to make management decisions, and the right to withdraw resources from a particular area. The FAO in 2002 further defined customary forest tenure as a set of rules and norms that govern a community’s relationship and use of forest, land, and other natural resources. It is a set of socially legitimate, informal, and de facto rules and norms that regulate community allocation, use, access, and transfer of these natural resources. These ancestral lands are important as these are the source of indigenous peoples’/adat community’/ethnic minorities’/ethnic groups’ cultural, spiritual, social, and political identities and the foundation of traditional knowledge systems. The State of the World’s Forest in 2018 underscored that clear and secure tenure rights are essential prerequisites for the sustainable management of natural resources. Recognizing customary tenure also provides critical steps to address forest and land conflicts.
Social forestry across the region is pursued within a context of providing stronger tenure rights to communities. While there is no common model or approach for promoting social forestry from the regional level to the national level, however, many of the models of social forestry relate to customary tenure. Social forestry has to some extent, facilitated recognition of customary forest tenure, because, in the process of clarifying tenure for social forestry, in effect, it clarifies customary tenure.
While progress has been recognized in tenure and safeguards at the ASEAN (regional) level, challenges and gaps remain. Pathways to formalize and recognize customary rights are unclear. The recognition of the tenure of indigenous peoples and local communities conserved areas and territories and their associated traditional knowledge is still weak. Due to large-scale public and private sector megadevelopment projects, indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) are more vulnerable to conflicts. For customary forest tenure, access and ownership are still conditional and restricted in several cases. Cases of encroachments in customary land and forests threaten customary rights and impede traditional livelihood and customary conservation and resource management practices. In the social forestry areas and programs, in most countries, customary forests are recognized. However, there are still areas where recognition remains weak.
The ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry (AWG-SF) is an established WG under the ASEAN Senior Officials on Forestry (ASOF), which is mandated to provide policy recommendations/oriented research on social forestry within the context of sustainable forest management and responding to the emergence issues on the impact of social forestry. The working group is also mandated to develop and regularly review its Plan of Action (PoA) for ASEAN Cooperation on Social Forestry and identify key priority areas of social forestry that contribute to the Strategic Plan of Action for ASEAN cooperation in forestry 2016 – 2025.
In 2020, the AWG-SF’s plan of action for the ASEAN Cooperation on Forestry, identified two priority activities under Strategic Thrust 1, Activity 1.1.3a concerning customary tenure and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). First, there is a need to review customary and statutory tenure arrangements at the national, including access and use rights, of indigenous and ethnic peoples, local communities, forest dwellers, and other forest-dependent communities. This is to ensure that they are recognized and respected, and protected by effective legislation. Another is to support mainstreaming the principle of FPIC in forestry-related decision-making efforts. The priorities mentioned above are an important entry point for continued dialogue and discussion among relevant stakeholders on customary tenure recognition and FPIC in the forestry sector.
As we recognize the above-mentioned conditions, challenges, and opportunities, it is vital to continue the discussion and knowledge sharing on recognizing customary tenure and understanding the importance and challenges in implementing key mechanisms that facilitate this recognition, particularly, FPIC and other existing safeguards to support customary tenure recognition.
This technical seminar and knowledge-sharing activity is the first part of a series of discussions of the AWGSF with andamong relevant stakeholders to understand and unpack the current situation, challenges, and opportunities of recognizing customary tenure and free prior and informed consent in forested landscapes. The result of this knowledge sharing and the succeeding policy dialogues and discussions will feed into the process of developing an ASEAN Guidelines on Customary Tenure Recognition in Forested Landscapes.
The technical seminar and knowledge-sharing activity aim to provide a platform for the ASEAN Member States with CSOs and indigenous peoples organizations, and other relevant sectors to discuss and understand the current trends and opportunities on customary forest tenure/customary tenure and FPIC within the ASEAN countries and generate useful inputs into the development of a regional policy framework on customary tenure recognition.
Specifically, it hopes to achieve the following:
- Share and present existing global, regional, and country trends, situation/status, challenges, and opportunities that facilitates and hinders customary tenure recognition and FPIC implementation
- Present and collectively review the draft zero briefing paper and outline for an ASEAN Guidelines on Customary Tenure Recognition in Forested Landscapes
- Present and discuss elements, potential entry points, guiding principles, and key opportunities that need to be explored and implemented to have an adequate, effective regional framework on customary tenure recognition; and
- Among the AWG-SF, discuss the draft outline and identify areas for collaboration and opportunities at the country and regional level to support the AMS, CSOs, indigenous peoples organizations and other relevant sectors’ initiatives to implement the recognition of customary tenure and promote FPIC and other existing safeguards
- Provided a platform for knowledge-sharing and learning opportunities for AMS, CSOs, indigenous peoples organizations, and other relevant sectors to discuss and understand the current global, regional, and national policy frameworks and practice landscape on customary forest tenure/customary tenure and FPIC
- Reviewed and discussed a Draft Zero briefing paper and outline of the ASEAN Guideline on Customary Tenure Recognition in Forested Landscapes
- Key elements and guiding principles for the ASEAN Guideline on Customary Tenure Recognition in Forested Landscapes identified and mapped out
- Identified key opportunities and action points for synergy and way forward to support the AMS, CSOs, indigenous peoples’ organizations, and other relevant sectors/stakeholders to implement and operationalize the recognition of customary tenure, FPIC, and other existing safeguards
- ASEAN Member State Representatives working in the forestry and environment sector
- Civil society organizations
- National CT alliance members in the Mekong region
- Regional CT Alliance Members
- Indigenous people and local community representatives
- Government officials
- Relevant regional and national bodies
- Relevant development partners
Format and schedule
To have a manageable, more focused discussion and sharing, the policy dialogue will be sub-divided into two parts: Mekong Countries (The technical seminar & knowledge-sharing activity will be divided into two main parts: the first part will have more focus on the trends, issues, and opportunities on customary tenure recognition and FPIC at the global, regional, and country-level. On the other hand, the second part will be a discussion of the ASEAN Working Group on social forestry on the draft zero outline of the ASEAN Guideline on Customary tenure recognition in forested landscapes. The result of these activities will be consolidated and synthesized to inform the overall guideline development process.
For questions and other concerns about the event please contact Dazzle Labapis (firstname.lastname@example.org)