The Mekong Region Land Governance Project (MRLG) in Laos aims to formalize land rights by 2025, but customary tenure rights, particularly in agricultural and forest areas, remain vulnerable to encroachment and loss. Climate change exacerbates this vulnerability, pushing communities to marginal lands and threatening their forest tenure rights. Phase 3 of the project focuses on securing land and forestry rights through targeted sub-legislation and procedural guidelines, implementing policies at the grassroots level, training sub-national officials, and raising community awareness about their land rights.

Collaboration is a key aspect of MRLG’s approach, bringing together government and non-government stakeholders to institutionalize the recognition of customary tenure rights in forest landscapes. The project prioritizes safeguarding land tenure rights for vulnerable groups, including smallholder farmers, women, and ethnic minorities. Gender considerations are also integrated into the project’s implementation.

The MRLG Customary Tenure Alliance in Laos is a collaboration between government and non-governmental stakeholders to improve land governance and tenure security, advocating for policy changes that protect customary land rights, particularly for vulnerable groups such as smallholder farmers, women, and ethnic minorities. The Alliance works to ensure fair access to land and forest resources and involves civil society organizations in policy discussions and implementation.

The RAI workstream in Laos functions through a dedicated RAI Taskforce comprising key government departments involved in agribusiness regulation, civil society, and research organizations active in the RAI space in Laos. The project has focused on policies that govern the relationships between investors and smallholders in Laos, particularly in the form of land concessions, leasing, and contract farming. In Phase 3, MRLG is supporting the development of a contract farming decree, revision of the investment promotion law, and revision of a ministerial instruction on concessions and land leases to better protect the land rights and interests of smallholders in the context of ongoing agro-investments and commodity crop expansion.

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