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Data training aims to strengthen community voices on forest governance 

Aug 4, 2020 | FLEGT Market News

Thai civil society groups have taken part in a data literacy training programme to strengthen their capacity to advocate for forest governance improvement, including through Thailand’s FLEGT VPA process. 

The February to June training course was run by the East-West Management Institute (EWMI), which is backed by a range of national and international donors, including the European Commission, World Bank and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.  It was tailored specifically for the forestry sector and covered reading, understanding and communicating with data and the insights that can be gained from it.

The eleven participants included representatives of community groups, the Thai Citizen Forest Network, the Raks Thai Foundation (formerly CARE International (Thailand)) and RECOFTC – the Center for People and Forests. All were sponsored by the Voices for Mekong Forests (V4MF), which helps indigenous people, private sector, local community and other civil society groups engage in and influence forest governance in Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Myanmar. 

Reporting on the training initiative, Open Development Thailand said it came at a key time for the country, as it negotiated its FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU.   

“It is important that stakeholders, such as non-state actors and civil society organisations, are able to better advocate in this process through the presentation of a compelling data story to advance forest governance,” it said. “This program provided civil society and non-state actors with tools to further their advocacy.”

Course participants worked on different projects to hone their data handling skills. One analysed the distribution of local land use certificates with the aim of  protecting community rights and access to public services. 

Another developed a data set to ‘visualise and communicate insights’ to the Citizen Forest Network to help it clarify the rights of smallholders to grow and sell their timber.

The EWMI has also run its data literacy training in Myanmar and Cambodia and started a course in Viet Nam in July.