AsiaDHRRA, together with the Non-Timber Forest Products – Exchange Programme for South and Southeast Asia (NTFP-EP), ASEAN Social Forestry Network (ASFN), Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) and SDC co-organized the first CSO 101 Brown Bag Event for the Civil Society Organizations & the Agriculture and Forestry Sector in the ASEAN Region held on 17 February 2012 at the Hibiscus Ballroom, ASEAN, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Ms. Lany Rebagay presented “Engaging ASEAN on Agriculture and Sustainable Rural Development: The AsiaDHRRA-AFA Experience”. And Muhammad Nuruddin, of AFA-Aliansi Petani Indonesia presented the view from the Farmers’ Organization on ASEAN engagement.
The Brown Bag Session aims to provide various perspectives, approaches used by various CSOs, highlight positive examples for CSO-government collaborations and identify key themes and points where ASEAN-CSO engagement and constructive dialogue in the forestry and agricultural sector.
The fruitful one day session came out with the following Lesson and Recommendations towards Meaningful Engagement between the ASEAN and CSO
1. There is ‘space’ in the agriculture and forestry sector in the ASEAN as underscored in the ASEAN charter. This ‘space’ should be optimized. The ‘space’ has to be mapped out and clearly outlined. This may include setting up informal and formal mechanisms to allow a more active participation in CSOs.
- There is a need to establish legitimacy in the engagement. There is a need to build institutional structures that facilitates discussion of issues.
- The ASEAN secretariat can promote intensive engagement in various ASEAN initiatives and facilitate linkaging for CSOs’ engagements with particular member states.
2. The ‘language’ in the space is not defined. There is a need to define what is the process, what are the rules of engagement, and who are the actors.
- There is a need to have a process in articulation of dialogues with the ASEAN bodies. There is a need to filter out conflicts to have dialogues with the ASEAN.
- Map out the institutions/CSOs in the region, and encourage diverse CSOs to engage with the ASEAN bodies.
- CSOs across the region may need to organize themselves, identify issues and interest and concretize what to bring to bring forth for high level discussions and engagements with ASEAN bodies, member states and their representatives.
3. Funding support is needed for consistent participation and to develop resources to translate relevant information that will be carried out into actions and engagements.
- Development partner (funding agencies) of ASEAN recognizing the potential contribution of CSOs may need to allocate funds to CSOs.
4. It has to be clear who is represented and whose voices is spoken. Peoples/communities have the to be given the opportunity to articulate for themselves and not necessarily having an intermediary. Who frames the issues and the language used matters.
5. There is a need to further have ‘infrastructure’ building, form networks among peers, among governments to learn from each other.
- Networks can facilitate increasing the level awareness on issues of representatives and government bodies and continue to build capacities of CSOs (provide trainings, sharing information, etc)
6. Generate concise, practical information targeted for a given agenda. The nature of information, how it is provided, and timeliness of information given is relevant.