Over the past few years, there has been progress in tenure and safeguards at the ASEAN level, particularly in the Mekong region. Both customary tenure (CT) and free prior informed consent (FPIC) have been recognized as key indicators in an important guideline for responsible investment in food agriculture and forestry.
However, despite this development, several challenges remain. For customary forest tenure, access and ownership are still conditional and restricted in several cases. Land conflicts remain high–customary land and forest encroachments threaten customary rights and impede traditional livelihood and conservation and resource management practices.
Building on these gains and recognizing existing challenges, it is vital to continue amplifying the work towards the development, adoption, and implementation of CT recognition and safeguards such as FPIC in securing right over customary forest tenure in the Mekong region. To address the issues on the CT based on current situations, the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) is preparing a regional paper to investigate the status of CT recognition and implementation in the context of livelihoods and food security, particularly in Mekong countries. It is envisioned to generate information and lessons learned that will serve as input in developing ASEAN guidelines and policy on CT recognition to support the region’s commitment to delivering on livelihoods and food security goals.
To apply the intended regional paper and the development of ASEAN guidelines and policy on CT recognition, AFA and Myanmar Environmental Rehabilitation-Conservation Network (MERN) partnered. MERN conducted desk research and online key informant interviews with relevant CT stakeholders and organized three personal focus group discussions (FGD) with the help of two MERN member organizations and a partner CSO in the respective village in line with the questionnaires on CT prepared by AFA. This report capture the finding of the FGDs together with recommendations.