Youth and the Future of Land in Myanmar: Celebrating LCG’s Youth Program and 2018 Research
For the next generation in Myanmar, the changes that are taking shape in land governance will have significant impacts on how they can live their lives, support themselves and their families, and carry on their culture. How can youth contribute to these changes and become leaders in the future of land governance?
On Friday 8 February 2019, Land Core Group (LCG) celebrated the role of youth in the future of land governance in Myanmar at their event Youth and the Future of Land in Myanmar: Celebrating LCG’s Youth Capacity Development Program and 2018 Research.
Held at Excel Crystal Jade Restaurant in Yangon, the event marked the graduation of LCG’s 2018 Youth Program participants and launch of the Program research reports, the premiere of the Program documentary, and launching of two additional reports funded by LCG in 2018: one from the University of Forestry and Environmental Science, Yezin, and the other from 10 local CSOs across Myanmar. The event, the Program and the research was made possible by LCG’s donors LIFT and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
LCG’s Executive Director, U Shwe Thein, opened the event with a reflection on the role of youth in the future of land governance: “What could happen if we nurture youth? In land, we need an aim in the long run and we need to invest in youth to have a more efficient and effective land system with more secure land tenure rights.”
An indicator of the quality of the Youth Program can be seen in the technical training provided to participants, led by internationally recognised researcher Dr Philip Hirsch from Sydney University, Australia. Dr Philip shared his reflections on the importance of training youth to become quality researchers: “There is no point advocating for solutions if you don’t understand the problem.”
Following a premiere of a documentary on the Youth Program, each intern research team gave a short presentation on their reports. Each team is made up of both interns based in LCG’s Yangon Office, as well as youth working in local CSOs in the study area who are also part of LCG’s Youth Program. The three reports are available on under “Resources”: firstly, Responsibility and Accountability of Private Companies in Resource Extraction: Case studies from Mon State, secondly, Land Grabbing in Myanmar: Process, Impacts and Compensation issues in Southern Shan State, and thirdly, Customary Land Tenure and Security in Mixed Authority Areas: Case Study from Kayin State, Myanmar.
Another focus of the event was the role of local CSOs in conducting and contributing to research, as demonstrated by the presentation from 10 of LCG’s partner CSOs. The CSOs compiled case studies focused on land grabbing, livelihoods and decision-making in different areas across the country, using a survey as well as interviews that were consistent across all sites.
The event concluded with a presentation from Dr. Nyein Chan from the University of Forestry and Environmental Science, Yezin. Dr Chan provided an overview of their report: Land Use and Land Tenure Change in Myanmar: Three Regions where Land Tenure is of Critical Concern. Based on their research findings, the report makes a number of important recommendations for policy and law including that customary tenure needs to recognised in all regulations along with compensation mechanisms, and that there needs to be greater awareness of rules and regulations among the public. Following the presentation there was a lively and lengthy question and answer session with the audience, reflecting the significance of the report’s findings.
Evidence-based research is key to laying the foundations for advocacy and change in land-related policy and law. Looking to the future, this change must be led by Myanmar’s youth and local CSOs. In this context, LCG’s Youth and Capacity Development Program and CSO partner research will continue to influence the outcomes we can achieve in improving land governance in Myanmar. As stated by U Shwe Thein: “We need a training school to develop our human resources in the land sector in this country and get better results.”