Workshop on United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP)

In afternoon, June 23, 2021, the NGO Forum on Cambodia organized Virtual workshop on United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) via the Zoom Webinar. The objectives of the workshop: – Awareness raising on UNDROP for Cambodia context; – Understand the role of stakeholders for contributing to the implementation of UNDROP in Cambodia.

Welcome Remark by Dr. Tek Vannara – Executive Director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia

Welcome all participants from government offices, development partners, farmers, research institutions, private sector, and academic.

This workshop has two objectives – one is to share with participants the understanding on UNDROP, and to allow and encourage participants to further share their understanding in their roles and duties in implementing the UNDROP.

I deeply thank the AWG and its members for their support to the farmers throughout Cambodia that contributes evidently to the implementation of the policies and awareness raising in particular on water, capital and markets. These three factors are critical to support and protect the rights of our farmers in producing their harvests and achieving food security in their livelihood. Farmers are able to farm with more benefits in return for their family or household sustainability as this is their basic rights to live properly.

I thank guest speakers in sharing knowledge and providing understanding of their institutional roles in implementing the UNDROP for rural peasants in the rural areas.

Opening Remark by Ms. Lim Solinn, Country Director, Oxfam in Cambodia

Allow me to share with Oxfam’s approaches to contributing to delivering to the Declaration and addressing the challenges that we have observed in Cambodia over the past 20 years of our implementation of our agriculture and fishery program by focusing now on inclusive green economy programing (IGE) which has been developed. It is our efforts to align with the Royal Government’s vision and missions to develop a more inclusiveness of sustainable economy that have prioritized growth and at the time social cohesion. We are now looking at inclusive and green economy thinking which has evolved from our early fieldwork that many of you is aware of on green economy, in addition to being gender inclusive. We are trying to think critically about how best we achieve low-carbon efficient and clean production, inclusive consumption and outcomes that are based on collaboration, solidarity, building resiliency, and interconnectedness and inter-dependency. These are the key aspects of our inclusive green economy program that Oxfam has launched this year and this program is taking a market system approach and with the understanding that small-scale producers are part of the market system, but unfortunately, they are not able to connect to the markets effectively. Therefore, on the one hand, the IGE program of Oxfam is trying to support the livelihood building and diversification in various sectors such as rice sector, fishery sector through the support to micro and medium enterprises by assuring effectiveness of integration of small-scale producers in their supply chain. This will be done through procurement policies, supply agreement as example. We would be also focusing on providing technical assistance to the private sector so that they could effectively connect small-scale producers to the bigger market, as part of our approach. IGE program focuses very much on the small-scale producers in these sectors I mentioned earlier already and really tries to harness collaboration and joint-investment between investment sector, private sector to make or create enabling environment and market space that will be working for the poorest of the poor, especially small-scale farmers and producers. We put strong emphasis on collaborating with key champions in the government and the private sector, because as you know it is an enabling environment that is very key here if we were to sustain the market space for small-scale producers in sectors which is agriculture or vulnerable fishing communities in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve or to support the factory workers is another example. Most vulnerable women and children could be more resilient when it comes to their own individuals and how they can fight against climate change. They are all have the opportunities to take on work and able to diversify their livelihoods and making household economy of their families more resilient. We work with partners with Khmer Enterprise, Ministry of Agriculture, industry representatives in Cambodia that are our critical partners for creation of enabling ecosystem for small-scale farmers and producers in various sector in Cambodia. I will not go into detail of each sector and projects that we continue to focus on and considering to seek supports from all of you to think about what will be actions to support small-scale farmers and producers in a much more effective way.

History and the role of States and relevant stakeholders in the Implementation of the UNDROP – Dr. Christophe Golay, Geneva Academy

I came to Phnom Penh two years ago to discuss with many of you about the UNDROP and it is a great pleasure for me to continue with you. Thank the organizers – NGOF and Cambodia Oxfam. I have the chance to join the negotiation of the declaration for the last ten years in supporting the negotiation process which took place in Geneva. Between 2008 and 2018, it was when the declaration was adopted.

Just to give you a very small context related to the declaration. It started in 2001. They met in Jakarta, Indonesia and adopted the first draft of the declaration. Then several meetings were organized in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 to discuss the contents. You all can find this declaration in the website. Then there was food crisis in many countries in the world in 2008. It was the moment when UN pooled supports to fight hunger and that what the declaration was all about. Then there was a discussion in Geneva. Between 2008 and 2012, there were lots of discussions from experts and people on why we needed this declaration for the UN. In 2012, the negotiation started and lasted for six years in Geneva and there were lots of discussions between states, Also, there were lots of participations from many organizations and academia. In 2018, the declaration was adopted and various progressive articles can be used to promote their rights of the peasants. Cambodia also voted in favor of the declaration in Geneva and New York in 2018. Not only Cambodia, but there were 121 states voting for the favor of the declaration – eight against and many from the European countries. 80% of the labor is in the rural area and 70% of them lives in extreme poverty. There is a need to protect their rights. In Cambodia, as shared by the head of Oxfam in Cambodia, 87.5% of labor is in informal sector without social protection.

It is very useful for me to share with the presentation on declaration. I have shared with you the link to the declaration as uploaded in the webpage of the Geneva Academy. We have several publications that you can download and learn from various articles and materials related to declaration.

Contribution of SDC in Cambodia to farmers and UNDROP implementation – Ms. Duong Saramany, Program officer, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

Currently, SDC implements the projects under the Strategy II on Mekong Cooperation. In Mekong Region, SDC operates in Lao PDR and Cambodia. When we set up the office in Phnom Penh, the office in Hanoi was cancelled. In Phnom Penh, we have the office here under the management of the rgional strategy in Mekong with the in-charged person in Ventiane. SDC is known in Cambodia since the begining of 2012 and 2013 and fully recoginzed of its cooperation work since 1992 through Kuntha Bopha Hospital where Dr. Richner is a founder. Presently, SDC implements projects on Strategy II for Cambodia from 2018-2021 which will end in this 2021. SDC is now preparing the next 4-year strategy from 2022-2025. I believe that some of you has been involved in providing inputs to this strategy too.

For development work, SDC focuses on three programs – govenrment and citizen particaption (as we assure that people access to services with quality and accountability and particularly in health sector and engage in the discussion and dialogue in achieving their appropriate rights); agricutlure and food security (we assure that food security and income and occpuation of people in rual areas especially women and indigenous people are encouraged for their income generation and livelihood improvement); and vocational skill development and employments for people in Cambodia particularly women and youth.

SDC is preparing its Regional Strategy from 2022-2025 and its process has been completed and first draft has been prepared for the full strategy. For this strategy, it is based on Swiss Cooperation Strategy. In the international cooperation of SDC, it focuses on what are the needs of the population, Swiss interests, and what added values Swiss has contributed to the international cooperation. The strategy looks at the thematic priorities – employment/jobs link to migration, rule of law, and climate change that will help reduce the poverty and achieve the sustainable development, inclusively of cooperation with private sector, potentials of digitalization, and indepnedent evaulations to assure that Swiss has performed its cooperation with quality. To prepare the programs, SDC has offered guidelines in Asia – what fouses should be. Based on the international cooperation, in Asia there are three fosuses – democratic state building and respect for human rights; inclusive economic development; and climate change and environmental sustainability.

Contribution of HEKS in Cambodia to farmers and UNDROP implementation – Mr. Norng Sivouthan, Country Director of HEKS/EPER

Many thanks NGOF for organizing this workhsop and donors for funding and all presentors and guest speakers for today meeting. HEKS is from Swiss and found in 1946 during world war II. Our mission is to support the poor and vulnerable groups in the world. We focus on the end of economic and social descrimination and provide benefits for the poor and vulernable groups. We also work on natural resource maangement and land rights and promote social justices. We promote the ethics and work wth partners from goverment institutions, communities, civil society, and private sector. In Cambodia, we started from 1980s and opened HEKS office in 1990s. Our work in Cambodia is to increase incomes of farmers and vulernable groups through promoting sustainable agriculture and market prices. We assure farmers access to technical capacity to increase productivity, and to enrouage smallholder farmers access to information and understand the rigthts of land and governance of land and natural resources management. We build capacity of the lcoal communities so that they can engage in local devleopment process through providing inputs and to work with sub-national government. We, as like international NGOs, work through our partners through fund and technical supports to national NGOs. We also implement our actions or projects too – for instance the cashew nut value chain, and land rights security.

Ms. Ros Chhorvivorn, Village Support Group (VRG) and Representative of SC Agriculture Working Group (AWG)

Contribution of AWG to UNDROP
AWG supports smallholder farmers and agricultural cooperatives to increase productivities and market through agricultural policy preparation and implementation. For instance, in 2021 AWG has achieved the following:
1- Conduct study on the understanding of the Implementation of the Agricultural Development Plan 2019-2023 – Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry has committed to transform the action plan into actual performance through the promotion of local resource uses and fundraising from development partners and other private sector in order to implement the plan towards qualified outcomes and efficiency.
2- Conduct the study on contract farming on rice – Advantage: ACs receive technical training and farm inputs, assured market prices, access to quality of seeds. ACs benefit from the assured markets. – Disadvantage: Some ACs have insufficient capacity to do the contract farming.
3- Diary work – network meeting; cooperate with members and partners on contract farming; join the meeting with the natural rubber network; review the mid-term performance of NSDP 2019-2023; join the national workshop on sustainable food system for 2030 – MAFF has a policy on food safety, including food safety standard and legal performance for sustainable food system for 2030.

Wrap Up and Closing Remark
Mr. Hok Menghoin thanks participants for being present and discussing the topics today.