This panel discussion examined the complex governance of land and forest resources in Southeast Asia and explored ways to shape institutions, decision-making processes and rules so that they encourage sustainability in the landscape.
The landscapes of Southeast Asia are in constant change, shaped by various forces that interact in complex ways: the livelihood activities of smallholders, large-scale land-based investments, and governance systems operating at global, regional, national and subnational levels. These multilevel governance systems — institutions, decision-making processes, and formal and informal rules — influence who has access to land and forest resources and how these resources are managed.
In the Southeast Asian context of rapid change and increasing complexity, new opportunities and risks for the future of landscapes are emerging. Participants explored ways in which governance systems can be harnessed and modified to promote sustainable land and resource use as part of an integrated landscapes approach. In particular, discussions featured the following:
- The emergence of new transboundary forms of regulation in Southeast Asia to address challenges such as illegal logging and the fire haze. An example is forest certification, a market-based response to the failure of intergovernmental processes to establish a global convention on forests.
- Insecure land titles and unclear land and forest use rights throughout Southeast Asia. Insecure tenure, unclear rights and inadequate participation leave the rural poor, especially women and other marginalized groups, increasingly vulnerable to agricultural expansion, illegal logging, new infrastructure and demand for land. Recent tenure reforms have had mixed results, revealing a need for new strategies.
- Jurisdictional approaches to green development in selected Southeast Asian countries. Subnational jurisdictions, such as provinces or districts, play an increasingly important role in shaping investment and trade dynamics. If jurisdictional approaches are to ensure sustainable green growth, they must improve public policy alignment, institutional coordination, access to information and stakeholder engagement.