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Illegal Forest Conversion in the Mekong: Policy Implications for Land Investments, Climate, and Forest Legality Initiatives

Event Overview

Illegal Forest Conversion in the Mekong: Policy Implications for Land Investments, Climate, and Forest Legality Initiatives

July 21, 2014 - July 23, 2014

Phuket, Thailand
Novotel Vintage Park Resort


This two and a half day workshop aims to bring together experts from five focal countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam) and a range of relevant policy processes (REDD+, FLEGT, corporate responsibility) to engender a regional discussion about the conversion of forests in the Mekong region for commercial agriculture and infrastructure. Much of this conversion is highly correlated with land rights abuses and recent Forest Trends research suggests that a substantial proportion of these lands, and in some countries the majority, are being illegally deforested. Facilitation will emphasize regional policy synergies and key themes, with a focus on problem solving. Participation of local, national, and regional experts in REDD+, FLEGT, economic development, land use planning, FDI, poverty alleviation, and land rights/land use issues will be integral to a fruitful and results-oriented dialogue. Relevant international agencies from the forests, development and agricultural sectors will also be invited to participate. 

It is hoped that the workshop will be part of an on-going process of building relationships between stakeholders operating in the REDD+ and FLEGT processes across the region, and exploring policy options for improving legal compliance and enforcement as, for example, Mekong countries establish VPA negotiations and implement REDD+ national strategies. 


Disseminate new findings on the characteristics and extent of illegality in land conversion to relevant policy processes;

Share information about tools and political opportunities for leveraging credible legal compliance in land conversion across the Mekong region;

Begin to build a network of experts across countries and policy processes to identify and support synergies; and

Identify opportunities to facilitate Ministerial level dialogue and advocacy


Workshop Summary


Welcome and Overarching Questions

Kerstin Canby, Forest Trends

Session 1 - Forest Conversion: Global and Regional Trends and Defining Illegality

Forest Conversion Trends in the Mekong Region

Keith Barney, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

Defining Illegality in Land Conversion

Clare Brogan, The IDL Group

Community Forest Tenure in the Mekong: Links to Forest Conversion

Bryson Ogden, RRI

Session 2 - Presentations of Country Case Studies on Land Conversion

Forest Conversion for Rubber Plantation in Vietnam

Nguyen Vinh Quang, Forest Trends

Forest-Land Conversion and Conversion Timber Estimates: Thailand Case Study

Alexandra Banks, NEPCon

Forest-Land Conversion and Conversion Timber Estimates: Cambodia Case Study

Koy Ra and Alexandra Banks, NEPCon

Expert Workshop on Illegal Land Conversion in the Mekong Region: Lao PDR

Sidavone Chanthavong and Aidan Flanagan

Agribusiness and Agro-Conversion Timber in Myanmar: New Drivers of Deforestation and Land Grabs

Kevin Woods, Forest Trends, Research Analyst - Myanmar, and UC-Berkeley, Ph.D. Candidate

Session 3 - Land Conversion and Implications for REDD+: Differentiating Between Legal and Illegal Drivers of Deforestation

Asia-Pacific REDD+ Analysis: Lower Mekong

Ben Vickers, Asia-Pacific UN-REDD Programme

Implications of UNFCCC REDD+ Framework for Legal Compliance in Land Conversion

Melissa Blue Sky, CIEL

Land Use in the UNFCCC Durban Platform: Options for Addressing Legality and Governance

Kate Horner, Director of Forest Campaigns, EIA

How Mekong REDD+ Strategy Documents Address Legal and Illegal Forest Conversion

Eve Richer, Forest Trends

Session 4 - Conversion Timber and Commodities: Implications for Global Supply Chain Initiatives

Voluntary Partnership Agreements and the Mekong: Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade

Andy Roby, DFID Senior Forestry Adviser

Strengthening Forest Governance through Defining `Legality`: Ghana Case Study

Clare Brogan, The IDL Group

Lessons Learned from the VPA Definition of Legality and SVLK in Indonesia

Abu Meridian, Forest Watch Indonesia

Vietnam's FLEGT Experience from a Civil Society Perspective

Vu Thi Bich Hop, Executive Director of SRD and Chair of VNGO-FLEGT Network

Validating Legal Conversion Timber Supply Chains

Peter Feilberg, NEPCon

Land Use Planning and Legal Verification of Land Conversion: Experiences from Indonesia

Moray McLeish, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Demand-side Tools for Addressing Conversion Timber in the Mekong

Naomi Basik, Forest Trends

Session 5 - Engendering Corporate Responsibility and Accountability in Land-based Investments

Corporate Accountability and Land Rights: Relevant International and Regional Instruments and their Limits

Megan MacInnes, Campaign Leader - Land, Global Witness

Regional Corporate Accountability: A Rubber Case Study

Megan MacInness, Campaign Leader - Land, Global Witness

Corporate Voluntary Standards in Land-based Investments

Courtney Lowrance, Environmental & Social Risk Management, Citi Institutional Clients Group

Cambodian Clean Sugar Campaign: Resisting Illegal Land Grabbing, Forest Conversion, and Human Rights Abuses by the Sugar Industry in Cambodia

Eang Vuthy, Equitable Cambodia

Investment in the Agribusiness, Extractive and Infrastructure Sectors of Myanmar: Overview and Discussion of Results

Bryson Ogden, RRI

Investor Disclosure and Spatial Transparency: Bridging the Accountability Gap?

Mike Dwyer, CIFOR

ANZ's Approach to Sustainable Development

John McGinley, ANZ

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