“It’s good to talk.”

Many people who were in the UK during the mid-1990s will remember the tagline that became synonymous with a UK telecoms firm and initially spoken by actor Bob Hoskins.

During the Forest investment Program’s Pilot Country Meeting in Luang Prabang in Lao PDR at the end of September, I found the slogan running through my mind again and again.

Once a year representatives of the 23 countries that make up the Forest Investment Program (FIP) together with colleagues from multilateral development banks, civil society, the private sector and Indigenous Peoples get together to share updates on progress from around the world.

However, as the FIP portfolio of forest investments matures and more countries have results to share and experiences to discuss, the meeting has become a major event for exchanging lessons learned, discussing common issues with peers and sharing ideas.

This year’s conversations also included the triple question “what-so what-now what?” to help focus attention on the recently updated FIP monitoring and results framework to draw out the results from project implementation, get early thoughts from participant countries as to what lessons have been learned so far, and finally how can this body of knowledge best be shared and made use of in the future.

We also shared a joint Knowledge Day with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Participants Committee meeting, with nearly 200 delegates from 50 countries taking part in a series of workshops, discussion panels and focus groups. My favorite was the ‘knowledge café’ session which had 20 small round- table discussions on diverse topics ranging from benefit sharing mechanisms in Ethiopia, cookstoves in Togo, sustainable use of wood in Guatemala, to how public and private sector collaboration in Brazil and Indonesia helps address deforestation.

The aim was to get people talking, and talk they did, and at times hard to be heard over the dozen other conversations! 

And, it didn’t stop in the meeting rooms, a day of field trips offered another set of questions and talking points that kept conversations going well into the evening.

And we know, that before they left Luang Prabang  some participants were already planning to visit FIP colleagues in neighboring countries to continue the conversation and plans to share and learn from each other.

So, yes, Bob Hoskins was right…it’s good to talk.

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