Launching Workshop on Economic Land Concession Cancellation

The NGO Forum on Cambodia organized launching workshop on the Assessment of the Economic Land Concession Cancellation “Case Study from Cambodian Northern Provinces” on 05 March 2019 at Himawari Hotel, Phnom Penh. There were 37 participants (6 women) participants for this event. This meeting aims to present a key finding of the Assessment of the Economic Land Concession Cancellation, and to share the progress and experience from all relevant stakeholder to identify possibility to work together for better policy implementation and citizen livelihood.

Welcome remarks of the launching workshop on Economic Land Concession Cancellation by Dr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director of NGO Forum. Respect all participants especially provincial authority, academic, and NGOs working on NRM. He added that since 2017 the study conducted and focuses on the transfer of authority in 2015-2016. To learn about the situation of the livelihood of the community around the ELC and for all key stakeholders for learning and identify the possible action. MoE and MAFF decided to keep some area be the protected area. Please see the publication both Khmer and English. It will put in the NGO Forum website and download it for public use. How to help the community who live around the ELC cancellation areas. Wish all participants all the best with fruitful results of the discussion.

Key finding of the Assessment of the Economic Land Concession Cancellation.
Guest Speaker Mr. Ung Soeun, an external consultant to present a key finding of the Assessment of the Economic Land Concession Cancellation“ 4 case studies from Cambodian Northern province”. There is some difference data since the 101. It based on the legal document in 2015. It is very confidential data. The case studies included in the study. The objectives of the study in the following:

• Understand the type of land use and its location of downsized and cancellation from ELCs boundary;
• Highlights the number of ELCs and land dispute cases arising and improving the implementation of legal frameworks related to ELCs;
• Identify how ELC cancellation contributing to improve the livelihoods of local communities and support poverty reduction mechanisms of the government;
• Give recommendations to stakeholders- the government, the development partners, private sector and academics on mechanisms of ELC cancellation.

For concerned ministries of Royal Government of Cambodia

• Strengthen and enforce legal compliance of each ELC company.
• Quality of EIA firm.
• Affected community, NGOs, CBOs, and other stakeholders should be meaningfully participated, consulted, negotiated and inclusive at all steps of EIA process.
• Ensure that result of EIA should be accessed publicly, public hearing, understandable among local people language, local information board where nearby projects grant area as well as post it on the website.
• Following the new contract and master plan of each company, government ministry should be continuous strictly monitoring, review and evaluation annually performance. Provide an opportunity to the affected community to involve in the process of annual performance evaluation and provide evident/inputs to support the decision-making process.
• A land dispute between the community and private companies should be addressed prior to clear the forest. All clearances of land and forest should be approved by MAFF in advance.
• Traditional land occupied by indigenous community and heritage area should be mapped and demarcated for future planning and conservation purpose. The land concessions should not be granted on or near these areas.
• To avoid different interpretation of all stakeholders; particularly, NGOs versa Governments agencies on ELC statistic, The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries should update and complete its list of active economic land concessions and forest concessions with full information, including the progress of the operations, and make it publicly available in a timely manner. The list should include full company profiles, information of ownership, shareholders, the parent company, and contact details of companies’ local offices (including offices in the home state, where applicable), concession fees paid, and revenue generated from the concession. This information should be available in both Khmer and English.
• Following the suggestion of affected communities, ELC cancellation should be converted into Social Land Concession (SLC) for granting to landless households and poorest family for agricultural production purpose and income generation. Some remaining forest area from ELC revocation should be kept forest conservation area or forest and reforestation. Concerned ministries should be provided with technical support.
• The environmental degradation, soil erosion, social and economic impact, ecosystem and biodiversity lost due to illegal performance and activities of ELC company should be properly compensated and legal intervention.

For Economic Land Concession Companies
• Standard of corporate social responsibility (CSR) should be applied to all companies. Resettlement should be fully consulted with affected people and respect to the standard of human rights and basic need. Standards of free, prior and informed consent (EPIC) should be rigorously applied when consulting with all indigenous peoples.
• In a contribution to poverty reduction policy of the government, ELC Company should employ more local community to work with the company in appropriate labor fee/salary. The condition of employment should be following the rule of labor law.
• All surrounding communities should be an accessible new road and refrain from blocking transportation within the boundaries of the concession.
• Concession companies should be providing social benefits such as health services, educational opportunities, and environmental protection measures as well as contribute for community development activities.

• Keeping informs and sharing information on the potential impact on local livelihood to the affected community and providing technical and legal support as necessary.
• Following the rule of new environmental and natural resource code, promote and strengthening public consultation on ELC development, EIA, legal compliance, and other legal requirements of active companies for better agro-industries development and improvement of local livelihood to contribute poverty reduction in Cambodia.
• Promote awareness raising and capacity development to local communities on human rights, legal framework, land rights, land registration process, advocacy strategy and other necessary.
• Following the EIA report and other source information about ELC Company, develop summary sheet/ IEC material for dissemination to the affected community for their information.