BANGKOK, BINADESA.ORG – to strengthen the understanding and capacity on policy advocacy through Constructive Engagament, which can be freely defined as building a critical relationship between civil society organizations, governments and the private sector, AsiaDHRRA held the 3rd Regional Training of Trainers (ToT), with theme: ‘Training-Workshop on Policy Advocacy Through Constructive Engagements and Private Sector’. 45 people gathered for five days, from 12 to 16 March 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand. They came from eight member countries of AsiaDHRRA network, namely Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, with different backgrounds, roles and activities; including National DHRRA Advocacy Staff, Leaders of Rural and Farmers’ Organizations, Government Representatives and the Secretariat of AsiaDHRRA.
In general, ToT underwent 3 activities; (1) Training- Workshop on policy advocacy through constructive engagament, (2) Training-Clinic on writing Position Paper and policy paper, (3) Field trips to Local Farmer Groups and Dialogue with UNESCAP and FAO.
The training-workshop class was facilitated by several trainers experienced in building interaction networks between civil society, government and private sector, one of whom was Corazon Solliman, Former Philippines Social Welfare Minister and Civil Society activist in the Philippines. With his background, Dinky – as he is usually called – was able to make the learning process richer and more colorful with his ability to manage the experience and knowledge of the trainees. In addition, Ernesto Lim –also experienced in the grassroots and civil society organizations of the Philippines – assisted the trainees with the training-clinic class on writing position papers and policy papers.
Constructive Engagement is defined as a process of building relationships between several sectors, i.e. (1) Country – represented by governments at all levels, (2) Private Sector – Business actors and (3) Civil society, to collaborate to achieve common goals namely social justice and positive changes in the society. One of the principles of Constructive Engagement is citizen-based, meaning that the ‘common goals’ must prioritize the fulfillment of citizen’s rights and public interest. The process towards Constructive Engagement can be done through a variety of instruments, one of which is through policy advocacy – whether in the form of legislation or government programs / projects.
Policy Advocacy Experience
Constructive Engagement in policy advocacy process can be built through some practices, such as public consultation, policy dialogue and negotiation. To perform these practices requires good facilitation and communication skills so that the common goals or objectives can be delivered effectively and efficiently. However, in addition to the communication and facilitation skills, it also requires written instruments capable of properly documenting the attitudes, positions, demands, recommendations, wills or organizational interests of a policy.Therefore, it is important for civil society organizations to have the ability to write policy papers, position papers, media releases, and policy reviews.
With a variety of socio-economic, political, and cultural backgrounds, the organizational experience of the eight countries attending this ToT in policy advocacy related to rural and agrarian development issues is also very varied. From the Philippines, for example, the strategic policy issue becoming the advocacy focus of PhilDHRRA and its farmers’ organizations is NLUA (National Land Use Act), which has been going on for 30 years. This act – interpreted in Indonesian context – is the legal umbrella for national land and space management in the Philippines. Bina Desa itself carries Law No. 6 Year 2014 – or better known as the Village Law – as a strategic policy in relation to rural and agrarian development. The Village Law, which has been going on for almost 4 years today, has challenges in terms of substance and implementation; to these two contexts the policy advocacy of Bina Desa boils down. Furthermore, some other participating countries such as Thailand, Laos and Cambodia that talked about natural farming practices advocated government policies in the form of programs / projects.
The diversity of issues presented during the workshops did not become a significant obstacle in the learning process,instead, it positively became the medium of knowledge, experience and practice transfer among participants. It even identified how the organizations of these eight countries build policy advocacy threads on issues they occupy and how they learn important lessons to be tailored to their current policy advocacy context.***