The NGO Forum on Cambodia

Indigenous People and Forestry Network

1.      Introduction

Indigenous People and Forestry Network (IPFN) is a network coordinated by the Indigenous People Land Rights Project and the Forestry Rights Project of the Land and Livelihood Program of the NGO Forum on Cambodia. This Network has operated in close collaboration with national and international organization working in the forestry and indigenous people’s land rights sectors in Cambodia.

The IPFN was established from two networks, i.e. the Indigenous People Network and the Forest Livelihoods and Plantation Network, with a brief background as follows:

v  In 2003, a number of organizations working on indigenous people’s issues related to land and forestry established an official working group. In 2004, the Indigenous People Land Rights established an indigenous people network to strengthen this network’s presentation at national and international levels. Between 2004 and 2008, this Project expanded its activities in selecting indigenous communities’ representatives in provinces, which, in September 2004, resulted in the organization of anindigenous community network, namely the Indigenous Rights Active Members (IRAM). The Indigenous People Network carried out advocacy through many events to raise indigenous people’s issues, e.g., attending annual meetings of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York, and other regional fora. In 2009-2011, this Project developed a plan of actions to ensure indigenous people’s rights to use of land and natural resources by expediting collective land registration and advocacy for their rights. The Forestry and Plantation Network

v  Forest Livelihoods and Plantations Network (FL&PN) was established in 2002, focusing mainly on strengthening community capacity in advocating their rights and interests by making use of and protecting forest and land. In addition, this Network implemented many other activities, in particular, community legal education at a village level and giving opportunities for communities to consult on draft laws. In 2005, Oxfam GB supported FL&PN to build the capacity of its member organizations and to strengthen their capacity, and the Network focused mainly on advocacy at the national level. Between, 2006 and 2008, FL&PN extended its mandate to help in addressing impacts caused by economic land concession companies on community livelihoods and their use of natural resources by providing a forum for affected communities to voice their concerns and to draw attention of government officials, donors, and the public. Further, FL&PN also published reports on illegal logging by concession companies and supported affected communities’ advocacy at local, national, and regional levels and investigated and researched on forestry cases, and took part in awareness raising on the importance of sustainable management of natural resources. For instance, the Forest Livelihoods and Plantation Network succeeded in reporting to the World Bank Inspection Panel on the failure of a forestry concession project in Cambodia supported by the World Bank, which resulted in the complete cancellation of forestry concession companies in Cambodia in 2006(http://web.worldbank.org).

v  ​In 2012, because issues facing the Indigenous People Network and the Forest Livelihoods and Plantations Network were related, and in order to increase the relations and collaboration among their members, the two Networks were merged into one network, namely the Indigenous People and Forestry Network (IPFN). This Network was established to jointly empower indigenous and non-indigenous communities living in or close to forestry areas or areas converted into plantations in order to ensure rights and safety to traditional use of non-timber forestry products for social, economic and cultural development.

At presents, IPFN member organizations are coordinating with communities affected by economic land concessions, losses of indigenous and non-indigenous communities’ rights to their traditional use and management of forest. In order to strengthen IPFN’s relations and working capacity to share information and to develop strategies for advocacy and identification of cases for studies and investigation, member organizations have developed terms of reference for membership and the IPFN Commission, which serve as a basic principle for increasing cooperation and information flow from local to national levels.

2.      Network Mechanism to Resolve Issues

A number of worrying issues have occurred in Cambodia in the last few years, in particular, the issues of land, forestry, and natural resources, which are important resources for rural, poor Cambodians, especially, indigenous communities, as well as potential benefits for the environment, economy and society. Key issues and mechanisms of the Network include:

1.   Social, economic, and environmental impacts caused by economic land and mining concessions

By end 2010, about 1.7 million hectares of land areas were granted as economic concession by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. These activities focused mainly on agro-industry, including bio-fuel. Another fast growing activity was mining concession granted to both local and external traders without consideration of social and environmental impacts.Granting of economic land and mining concessions have led to conflicts and rapid losses of forestry in many communities, especially, indigenous ones, adversely affecting their rights and livelihoods, which depend on natural resources for their living.

Therefore, in order to mitigate or to reduce adverse impacts caused by economic land and mining concessions, the Indigenous People and Forestry Network has the following mechanisms:

v  For areas where economic land concession projects have not been implemented:

-       Encourage public consultations prior to operation of development projects;

-       Apply the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) with indigenous communities prior to authorization of new development projects in their territories;

-       Conduct public consultations on environmental assessment reports and laws and ensure that all discussed inputs are incorporated into these documents;

v  For areas which are being cleared by economic land concession projects:

-       Gather communities affected by economic land concession projects to voice their issues related to human right violation, demolition of houses, and losses of land without appropriate compensation in order to ensure solutions for victims through various fora, such as the National Advocacy Forum, meetings of the Technical Working Group on Land and Forestry, quarterly meetings with the Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization, and Construction, meetings with Technical Commissions of the National Assembly and the Senate, and many other round-table meetings with government officials. Moreover, challenges are raised for universal awareness through the World’s International Day of Indigenous People’s Rights, and Human Rights Day.

v  For areas which have already been cleared by companies:

-       Encourage household plantations;

-       Provide legal aids and disseminate information on establishment of forestry communities, protected area communities, and the process of indigenous communities’ collective land registration.

3.      Objectives:

1. Strengthen relations and increase cooperation among NGOs working on issues of indigenous people and forestry to help poor communities, in particular indigenous people, to obtain traditional rights and safety over forestry and natural resources for social, economic and cultural development.

2. Increase responsibilities and awareness on roles and responsibilities of the Network and its Commission.

4.      Strategies

1. Strategy 1: Strengthen IPFN member organizations. The Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights Project and the Forestry Rights Project must ensure that member organizations and partner organizations have the capacity to take part in monitoring and supervision of preparation of documents and planning of advocacy over priority challenges negatively affecting land and forestry rights in indigenous areas, community forest, protected forestry areas, and other conservation areas. In this regard, specific strategies include:

-       Strengthen IPFN relations and alliances

-       Develop IPFN’s capacity

-       Coordinate to give legal aids and collect factual evidence related to losses of forest and indigenous people’s rights.

2. Strategy 2: Encourage implementation and responsibilities by members to contribute to better advocacy for land security and the right to non-forestry timber products for poor and vulnerable people.

5.      Project Implementation Areas

The Indigenous People and Forestry Network implements projects related to indigenous people’s forestry and land issues across Cambodia.

6.      Structure

The structure of the Indigenous People and Forestry Network is as follows:

IPFN Strucutre

7.      Roles and Responsibilities

A.    Members

-       Actively take part in ordinary and extraordinary meetings that are required by the Network and are advocacy objectives;

-       Share information with and update new challenges for members and other stakeholders (regional, national, and international);

-       Provide resources and technical support for joint development of strategies and take part in advocacy;

-       Take part in planning and implementing activities, monitoring and evaluation of IPFN’s performance;

-       Integrate IPFN’s plans into respective member organizations’ work plans.

B.    Commission

-       Coordinate networks at national, regional, and international levels in a number of necessary cases, including signing, disseminating statements, organizing press conferences, initiating a movement or an advocacy campaign, meeting with donors, government agencies, and stakeholders;

-       Provide comments and recommendations to the Secretariat. Support IPFN in preparing minutes and reports as necessary;

-       Make decisions on behalf of all members in emergency meetings as necessary under the Secretariat’s coordination;

-       Provide technical support and share experiences with IPFN members as possible;

-       Seek financial assistance to support IPFN activities through the Secretariat, coordinated by NGO Forum on Cambodia.

-       Ensure regular attendance of meetings;

-       Adopt IPFN’s plans of actions and budgets;

-       Commission’s ordinary meetings are held once every three months, and extraordinary meetings are convened on an ad-hoc basis.

C.    Secretariat’s Roles

-       Invite members to ordinary and extraordinary meetings;

-       The Coordinator of the Forestry Rights Project and the Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights Project is the Secretary and a member of the Commission.

-       Ensure that all IPFN-related affairs be consulted with and supervised by the Commission;

-       All documents of project activities related to IPFN must be submitted to the Commission for review prior to dissemination;

-       For work communication, the Secretariat should make copies for the leadership of the NGO Forum on Cambodia for information.

8.      Selection Criteria and Term

A.    Members

-       Organizations that can apply for membership are national and international organizations and donors, which have their action plans or project directions to enhance indigenous people’s land security, protection of forest and natural resources through advocacy to help poor and vulnerable people who are adversely affected by economic land concession development projects, forestry concessions, social land concessions, etc.

-       Term: Not fixed, based on members’ voluntary request or resignation.

B.   Commission Members               

Seven Commission members from member organizations shall be elected (at least 3 women) by IPFN members.

v  Selection methodology

Candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected. In case of equal votes, priority is given to a female candidate.

v  Selection criteria

-       An active/key member committed to related work;

-       Work experience and knowledge related to forestry and indigenous people sectors;

-       Willingness to work with IPFN.

v  Mandates and terms of Commission members

Terms of IPFN Commission members are based on members’ commitment, but members are encouraged to join for 2 years to ensure the capacity and sustainable operation of the Commission.

Dismissal of any Commission members must be made by Commission’s official, written notification. A member who is continuously absent from meetings and does not have work communication shall lose her/his membership.

9.      Management

A.    General Management of Members and the Commission

-       Financial system shall be consistent with the guidelines of NGO Forum on Cambodia

-       All IPFN Commission members shall have equal rights in raising issues and identifying priority issues

-       Members represent their respective organizations.

Members:

-       Member organizations have the right to make comments and to stand for elections to the IPFN Commission;

-       Member organizations have the right to appoint and replace with a new staff member a staff member who has resigned from her/his work, but are not encouraged to replace a member who does not resign.

Commission:

-       Play a role as the board of directors for IPFN projects, play a key role in guiding and making comments on projects to develop appropriate strategies needed by NPFN members, always have additional responsibilities over membership organizations.

-       Assist the IPFN project coordinator in elaborating its mandate and make it clear that all activities are implemented on behalf of IPFN members.

B.    Meetings

-       Ordinary meetings: Ordinary meetings are held with IPFN members on a quarterly basis. A meeting venue is at the NGO Forum Office in Phnom Penh and in a province as necessary (for provincial meetings, respective organizations shall communicate and organize the meetings).

-       Extraordinary meetings: A meeting held when a project-related urgent issue occurs is organized by the Coordinator of the Forestry Rights Project and the Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights Project after consultations with the Commission.

C.   Decision

-       A plenary IPFN meeting shall be considered official when there is 50+1 presence of members.

-       Discussion shall not be considered official when it has not been approved by an IPFN plenary meeting. Under-quorum discussion cannot proceed.

-       If possible, the final decision of IPFN is made on a consensus basis, but if a consensus is not possible, the decision shall be made by at least over 50 percent approval votes of participants.

D.    Secretariat

The Coordinator of the Forestry Rights Project and the Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights Projectof the NGO Forum on Cambodia serve as the Coordinator of theIndigenous People and Forestry Network based at the Office of the NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF).

Because theIndigenous People and Forestry Networkis coordinated by the NGO Forum on Cambodia, all correspondence to other agents shall be signed by the Executive Director of NGOF, representing IPFN members.

10.    Budget

-       Annual budget is prepared by the Coordinator of the Forestry Rights Project and the Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights Projectof theNGO Forum on Cambodia with discussion withthe Commission.

-       NGO Forum on Cambodia is responsible for seeking funding for operation of IPFN activities although IPFN is encouraged to introduce itself to donors and to receive contributions from member organizations.

-       All financial management system shall be consistent with the NGOF’ financial guidelines.

11.    Evaluation

The Coordinator of the Forestry Rights Project and the Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights Project are responsible for carrying out three-year evaluation in accordance with the timeframe of the evaluation of the NGO Forum on Cambodia. The evaluator will give recommendations to the Commission through the Project Coordinator for assessment activity planning. Evaluation reports should be submitted to the Commission for discussion and monitoring.

12.    Observation of Situation by Interested Stakeholders

All participants from government agencies, the private sector, donors, media, consultants, communities, and academia are welcome as meeting observers or to take part in various activities of the Forest Livelihoods and Plantation Network.

13.   Approval and Amendment                                   

-       This TOR was agreed upon and approved by over 50 percent of the IPFN members under the decision in the IPFN meeting held on 23 November 2012 in Siem Reap.

-       Reviewed and shared in the first quarter meeting in 2015.

Click Here for Download List of the IPFN member