According to the latest Global Food Security Index 2020, published by UK-based Economist, the Philippines’ food security score dropped three places this year to land at the 73rd spot out of 113 countries. This is a very concerning development given the challenges of the ongoing health emergency and the country’s high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
While the Philippines has institutional policies and legislation in place linking climate change to agriculture, a recent study published by the Climate, Disaster and Development (CDD) Journal shows that implementation of climate change adaptation (CCA) at the local level has been slow due to a lack of institutional analysis in CCA efforts in the country.
The study used the Institutional Environment Matrix framework to analyze the institutional environments of agriculture and CCA, and in examining the institutional interactions within these environments. The study involved a review of 40 relevant CCA and agricultural laws and policies, the functions and mandates of 25 organizational institutions, and approximately 80 peer-reviewed papers, government reports, and grey literature.
The findings show a glaring lack of coordination among relevant agriculture and CCA institutions when it comes to rules (i.e., legislation, policies); social structures (i.e., norms, culture); and organization.
Adverse Institutional Environment
The successful provision of agricultural extension services highly depends on the coordination and cooperation between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and local government units (LGUs). Currently, however, their institutional environments lack arrangements that would foster a unified collective effort toward the development of local agriculture.
The Local Government Code of 1991 decentralized agriculture in the Philippines and provides LGUs with extensive authority over their jurisdictions and autonomy in governance, including responsibility over their agricultural extension services. But while LGUs are given the responsibility to implement on-ground, the planning and policy-making processes for agricultural programs and projects remain with the DA.
With the DA and LGUs operating as completely separate institutions, this results in “confusion, overlaps, and duplication of functions”. Succeeding legislation re-enforced this divide and did not specify arrangements or support mechanisms for LGUs to have an operational relationship with the DA.
The same conditions exist with implementation of CCA at the local level. CCA initiatives are governed by the Climate Change Act of 2009, but LGU operations are ruled by the Local Government Code of 1991. Counterproductive inteplays exist between the Code and the Climate Change Act, creating a gap between the national and local operationalization of CCA.
As such, CCA policies do not incorporate institutional support mechanisms in design and implementation, which can address existing issues and concerns in local agriculture.
To address the gap in policy formulation and actual implementation, the study concludes that institutional conversations should take place as an initial step of CCA planning, and policy and decision-making, alongside scientific and technological discussions.
More specifically, the study’s findings suggest that the Local Government Code of 1991 needs to be revisited and amended to address the existing counterproductive interplays with other institutions and to consider arrangements for addressing climate change. These include establishing arrangements that: build collaborative systems of power and authority; create (dis)incentives for individual and collective actions promoting local agriculture and CCA; improve the financial capacities of LGUs, especially in relation to human resources; and develop institutional support mechanisms that provide structure in procedures and processes on new issues and concerns.
The research on “Philippine Institutions and Complex Institutional arrangements for Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture” was authored by Dr. Sining Cuevas, adjunct associate professor at the School of Environmental Science and Management, University of the Philippines Los Baños.
The CDD Journal is an open-access platform for peer-reviewed papers on all aspects and intersections of climate, disasters, and development, and their interaction. It is open to submissions focused on the areas of climate science, vulnerability and risks; climate change adaptation; disaster management; resilience; and climate policy and development. Please refer to the call for submission flyer, guide on getting published in the CDD Journal, and the manuscript submission guidelines for more information.
The CDD Journal is also looking to expand our pool of experts. Please refer to our call for reviewers if you are interested in becoming involved in the journal.
For more information on Philippine climate change and its impacts, visit the Philippine Climate Change Assessment (PhilCCA) page.