Regional Conference on Land and Natural Resources Governance in Ratanakiri Province

On Thursday, October 3, 2022, the NGO Forum on Cambodia, together with its member and partner organizations, facilitated the National Conference on Land Governance and Natural Resources” at Ethinic Cultural Center of Ratanakiri Province.

The conference aims to provide opportunities for relevant civil society organizations, national, sub-national authorities, the private sector, researchers and community representatives from six provinces: Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kampong Thom, Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri and Kratie, and a total of 55 Organizations with 215 participants (54 women).

In welcome remark, H.E. Khan Chamnan said that the province has organized a group of “technical work responsible for corporate social and environmental groups” with the cooperation of provincial authorities, investment companies, agricultural companies, agro-industry companies, mining companies, NGOs, relevant professional departments and district authorities to deal with the results affected on social and environmental issues and the draft framework for technical teams. In fact, in June 2022, the provincial administration cooperated with the NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF), DPA, the Community Legal Education Center, 14 investment companies, and organized multilateral consultations on the responsible development of corporations; and the technical work responsible for corporate social and environmental groups of the provinces is agreed to meet twice a year.

Dr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF), expressed his gratitude and appreciation all His Excellencies for good cooperation in participating in disaster management activities in 2009-2012 in Kratie province and appreciate the sub-national authorities at all levels for their good cooperation in contributing to the past which related to the land issues. And appreciated the works of community protected area(CPA), community forestry(CF), the indigenous communities for your efforts to protect the forest, land, public land and promoting traditions.etc.

He said that the efforts of national and sub-national institutions have coordinated to carry out development work in each sector of Cambodia in accordance with the legal aspect, policy and strategic plan of the nation and the target framework of Cambodia 2016-2030, in which there are 5 main tasks related to: 1) Land-Natural Resources, Public Financial Reform 2) Capacity building and the knowledge of natural resources to partner organizations in transferring knowledge and skills to local communities 3) Communication and information management knowledge of civil society organizations facilitated by the NGOF Secretariat. 4) Collaborate on research, debate and discuss with the community on important policies related to land governance and natural resources management, which in the past have collaborated with the Ministry of Interior in research related to indigenous collective land in Ratanakiri province. The organized regional workshops on gather the inputs on forestry and protected area laws that are important for community in supporting and sustainable development. 5) Provide political dialogue and dialogue between civil society organizations, government agencies, legislatures, parliamentary and senate institutions related to sustainable development within the legal framework. Congratulations to Ratanakiri Province governor on the progress of the provincial organizing the process, registration, meeting, good cooperation on the protection of natural resources, land, plantations, traditional camps. Another point, appreciated on the establishment of a mechanism of technical working groups responsible for corporate, social and environmental groups with the participation of four parties for sustainable development.

Mrs. Ya Yany, representative of indigenous peoples (Punong). she was very happy that community representatives from all six provinces came together today to attend a conference on land and natural resource governance. She pointed out that in the past, communities, especially local community or indigenous communities living in and near natural resources; were inextricably dependent on natural resources, such as forests, by-products, plantations, and crops. Used traditionally to earn a living and improve living standards.

She said that in the past, communities have had a lot of impact on land and natural resources used included: There has been encroachment on land in
forests and protected areas,
1. affecting the forest land, the forest, the forest, the demonic forest and the burial ground of Indigenous communities
2. have land disputes with private companies related to ELCs and projects that remain unresolved.
3. the benefits that local communities receive from the company’s development projects are still low;
4. there is a risk of land use rights;

I would like to thank you for helping to register land, improve the livelihoods and rights of indigenous peoples, and request to expedite the registration of land for indigenous communities by issuing collective land titles faster.

Closing Remarks by H.E. Mom Saroeun, emphasized that communities demand and security of land and natural resource tenure, responsible governance of the environment and society and gender needs, and the participation of young people in the possession of these lands and natural resources. The use of resources and being able to know what is forbidden and what is allowed. In fact, the settlement of communities near natural resources, especially forests, is very difficult to prohibit the use of natural resources, forestry, agriculture, land clearing, plantation, use of non-timber forest products or wildlife. Sometimes it is not forbidden if the people have a community organization to manage natural resources, land, forest and so on.