The Learning Institute media kit is a guide to and about the organization and is available for use in the public domain
Founded in 2005, The learning Institute (LI) is a non-profit, non-political Cambodian organization working with a wide range of civil society, public and private sector organizations to effectively contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources to the rural landscape of the country.
Since its inception, LI has worked in 19 Provinces of Cambodia, supporting rural communities who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods – across agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. It engages local stakeholders, both community members and government authorities, as participants in Action Research projects based on Landscape Approach principles, to develop more collaborative, integrated and sustainable Natural Resource Management (NRM) in Cambodia.
The Learning Institute also believes that gender equity is integral to poverty reduction and the achievement of long-term sustainable and fair use of natural resources. Effective development (poverty reduction/livelihoods/food security) requires an awareness of, and response to, the ways in which gender relationships influence how women and men, girls and boys participate in, and are affected by, the process of development.
Improving natural resource management practices and protecting the environment require reducing poverty and achieving livelihood and food security among rural women and men. That goal will not be reached unless women are included in the conversation.
Because of gender-differentiated roles and responsibilities in natural resources management, interventions must address the specific needs and opportunities of rural women and men, particularly the poorest, to reduce inequalities, stimulate growth, and reverse environmental/resource degradation.
LI has been instrumental in facilitating natural resource co-management models through projects aimed at more sustainable NRM, securing livelihoods and empowering local communities as co-researchers and management actors, through adaptive capacity building and mechanisms for equitable benefit-sharing, with a focus on the most vulnerable groups and individuals.
LI also publishes and shares research project outcomes at sub-national, national and international levels, for evidence-based advocacy and policy reform.
The ‘ecosystem’ or ‘landscape’ approach differs from more traditional sectoral and project-based approaches – it provides a conceptual framework to address this complex web of social, economic, and environmental objectives, and to manage the ‘trade-offs’ entailed by efforts to simultaneously address conservation and development objectives – with an emphasis on identifying obstacles at institutional and governance levels.
‘Landscape’ here refers to more than the physical space of a resource area; the concept invokes a sphere of interaction between the natural and human systems. It is best described as a human-centered approach, applied at ‘landscape scales’ – taking into account the range of economic, cultural, social, and political drivers of a given context, and stakeholders from the most vulnerable of local communities to policy-makers.
Its principles emphasize adaptive management and broad stakeholder involvement in achieving sustainable and just outcomes in this competitive environment. The quality of decision-making is held to be a function of the process by which the decision is reached, and that the achievement of multiple objectives requires an ongoing cycle of engagement, negotiation, learning, adaptation, and improvement.
Ten Principles of the Landscape Approach are linked and mutually reinforcing:
Continual learning and adaptive management. Landscape processes are dynamic, but the development of new understanding, drawing upon multiple sources, informs decision-making and revised strategies.
Multiple scales. Outcomes at any scale are shaped by processes operating at other scales. Influences include external drivers, demands, and constraints. An awareness of these higher and lower level processes can improve local interventions, inform higher-level policy and governance, and help coordinate administrative entities.
Multiple stakeholders. Failure to engage stakeholders in an equitable manner in decision-making processes will lead to sub-optimal, and sometimes unethical, outcomes. Developing a landscape approach requires an iterative process of identifying stakeholders and recognizing their concerns and aspirations, while solutions should encompass equitable distribution of incentives and benefits.
Clarification of rights and responsibilities. The rights and responsibilities of different actors, regarding resource access and land use, shape both social and conservation outcomes. They need to be clear to, and accepted by, all stakeholders. When conflict arises, there needs to be an accepted legitimate system for arbitration, justice, and reconciliation. Gone is the ‘command-and-control’ approach to natural resource management – facilitation and negotiation have emerged as the core business of NRM agencies.
Resilience. Wholesale system changes are usually detrimental and undesirable. In contrast, bolstering resilience, as the capacity to avoid or deflect threats and to absorb and recover from unavoidable impacts, is vital to the sustainability of processes and benefits. Factors that contribute to system resilience are diverse and reflect context-specific ecological, social, and institutional attributes.
Common concern entry point. Solutions to problems need to be built on shared negotiation processes based on trust. Stakeholders have different values, beliefs, and objectives, but identifying shared, short-term objectives allows for immediate ways forward to emerge. In working toward these initial goals, opportunities arise for shared learning, and a process of trust-building creates a foundation for tackling further issues collaboratively.
Multifunctionality. Landscapes and their components provide a diverse range of values, goods, and services, with these multiple uses and purposes valued in differently by different stakeholders. The landscape approach acknowledges the various trade-offs among these, and the need to reconcile stakeholders’ multiple needs, preferences, and aspirations.
Negotiated and transparent ‘theories of change’ logic. A fundamental goal of a landscape approach is to build and maintain consensus. Transparency is the basis of trust, and is achieved through a mutually understood and negotiated process of change, towards a shared vision. All stakeholders need to understand and accept the general logic, legitimacy, and justification for a course of action, and to be aware of the risks and uncertainties.
Access to information and Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PME). The gathering and interpretation of information is a vital part of developing and updating the ‘theories of change’ on which the landscape approach is based. No single stakeholder has a unique claim to relevant information, and the validity of multiple knowledge sources and systems must be recognized. All stakeholders should be able to generate, gather, and integrate the information they require to interpret activities, progress, and threats.
Strengthened stakeholder capacity. The ability to participate effectively, including exercising various roles and responsibilities, presupposes certain skills and abilities). The learning and sharing process of the landscape approach is one means by which stakeholders can improve their capacity to judge and respond.
In the endeavor to reconcile and harmonize the often-conflicting objectives of conservation, socio-economic development and sustainable livelihood for poverty reduction, the learning institute perceives its niche of action as targeting the adaptive and institutional capacity of rural communities for meaningful participation in models and mechanisms for co-management of natural resources.
The key thematic areas that the organization focuses on are:
Livelihood resilience and enhancement
Adaptation, management and conservation
Local governance and planning
The Learning Institute is currently headed by Executive Director, Mr. Srey Marona.
The organization also has a board of members associated with the functioning of the organization:
Mr. Kim Mon Heng, Managing Director, AMARITA Tours (Chair of Board)
Ms. Yumiko Kura, Director, WorldFish (Board Member)
Mr. Chhum Sovanny, Program Analyst, Environment and Energy Cluster (Board Member)
Mr. Ashish J I John, Community Conservation Management Advisor, Wildlife Conservation Society (Board Member)
H.E. Chhay Samith, General Director, Ministry of Environment (MoE) General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection (GDANCP) (Board Member)
Strengthening Community Fisheries Management and Livelihood Diversification in Cambodia is a 4-year project funded by the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC).
The project is implemented by the Learning Institute in seven communities located in the coastal provinces of Kep, Kampot and Sihanouk and the Battambang, Pursat and Kampong Chhnang provinces in the Tonle Sap region. The Learning Institute works closely with the community members such as the fisher-folk, men, women and the youth.
The project aims to strengthen the legal and constitutional rights of the fisher-folk communities around the Tonle Sap Lake and the Coastal Provinces of Cambodia by improving and diversifying livelihood options and sustainable management of Community Fisheries (CFi). The project will also look to enhance the capacity of these communities as well as improve the recognition of the role of women to integrate a gender perspective.
The project works directly with the fisher-folk, community members, youth groups, women groups, staff of the Fisheries Administration and provincial authorities.
The Learning Institute’s project in the Voat Te Meum commune (Battambang Province)) is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) by way of its implementing partner Plan International.
The Learning Institute represented the only research organization among the 19 Cambodian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) participating in the Mainstreaming Climate Resilience into Development Planning (MCRDP-2) project entitling the learning institute to support MCRDP-2 in an ongoing research regarding climate resilience in development approaches.
Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) practices and planning in terms of water management, engage in participatory Water Management planning and corresponding capacity building to assess potential solutions, identify and plan activities for strengthening the water management system and implementing suitable CCA practices in the vulnerable households, pilot the implementation of selected activities under the Water Management Plan for strengthening the Water Management system and implementation of adaptations practices.
The Boeung Chhmar-associated creek system is a globally recognized wetland under the Ramsar convention and it is also one of the three core areas of the Tonle Sap biosphere reserve. Boeing Chhmar’s core area lies within the Peam Bang commune that has a Community Protected Area (CPA) and four Community Fisheries (CFi) areas and thus, the presence of the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and fisheries (MAFF), specifically the Fisheries Administration (FIA) is predominant.
Supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), the project is being implemented in two CFi’s, Peam Bang Senchey and Doun Sdueng Senchey, located in the Peam Bang Commune of the Stung district, Kampong Thom Province. The aim of the project to enhance co-management arrangements among relevant stakeholders in Peam Bang Commune, to strengthen the management of the fisheries resources through ecological landscape and FCA approaches and the creation of operative management plans, and to support CFi institutional development, including planning for CFi financial sustainability. These actions will enable more effective collaboration in sharing information and resources and cohesive action for the sustainability of the fishery resources among CFi and community members; non-members, including seasonal fishers and other currently marginalized groups, and relevant local authorities, including Commune Councils, FIA Cantonment and the MoE.
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