Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Phl reiterates position on marine BBNJ in 9th AHWG meeting

The Philippines reiterated its support to the 2011 package on high seas conservation and management at the 9th meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group (AHWG) last January 20-23 at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York City.

A small group convened to draft an informal working paper as a basis for negotiations in plenary during the 9th meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group last January 20-23. (Courtesy of International Institute for Sustainable Development).
The package states that, “the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), in particular, together and as a whole, marine genetic resources, including marine protected areas, and environmental impact assessments, capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology.”

These elements, the Philippine delegation emphasized, should be the basis and mandate for the negotiations of the new implementing agreement on the conservation and management of marine BBNJ.

Attended by around 200 participants which includes national delegations, as well as inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, the meeting was the last of the three series of the AHWG convened by the UN General Assembly pursuant to its resolution 68/70.

It generally aims to serve as venue to study the issue of the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity and the scope, parameters and feasibility of a new international instrument on BBNJ.

Speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General, Undersecretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel Miguel de Serpa Soares noted that differences still remain in the deliberations on BBNJ and called upon delegates to “crystallize ideas in areas of convergence” in order to meet the deadline to submit recommendations to the General Assembly.
Meanwhile, Co-Chair Palitha Kohona of Sri Lanka highlighted the growing support for a new legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the law of the Sea. She noted that such instrument should be holistic and consider the needs of both developing and developed countries.

On the other hand, Co-Chair Liesbeth Lijnzaad of the Netherlands reported that a synthesis of the key ideas discussed in the two previous meetings had been circulated to national delegations in December 2014 as a Co-Chairs’ non-paper containing draft elements of a recommendation to the General Assembly, as well as an updated compilation of state submissions.

The last meeting of the Working Group started with rehashed positions for a new implementing agreement on marine BBNJ. Majority of the participants agreed that a new treaty would provide the urgent and most effective response to the threats on deep-sea biodiversity.

After discussions on the draft elements of recommendations prepared by the Co-Chairs along with the draft texts of other Regional Groups, the G77/China, the largest group of countries in the UN where the Philippines is a member, affirmed its proposal for the UN General Assembly “to convene an inter-governmental conference on BBNJ to elaborate a legally binding instrument under UNCLOS,” to consider convening a PrepCom, establishing the  mandate, rules of procedures and calendar of meetings of the PrepCom, and deciding on the specific date of the inter-governmental conference and a timeline for the negotiations.

The Philippine delegation to the 9th AHWG meeting was composed of Atty. Igor Bailen of the Philippine Mission to the UN, Dr. Theresa Lim of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Atty. Asis Perez of the Bureau of Aquatic Resources, Atty. Jose Mostajo and Bertrand Theodor Santos of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Atty. Dennis Guerrero of the Department of Agriculture, Engr. Ariel Cayanan and Sarah Bales of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) and Atty. Dennis Escolango of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

The stakeholders, particularly the academe and non-government organizations, have actively participated in the development of the Philippine position through the PCAF, serving as venue for policy development.

-With reports from International Institute for Sustainable Development


Stakeholders convene for upcoming APEC-PPFS meeting

The Department of Agriculture (DA), the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) spearheaded a Stakeholders’ Consultative Meeting on Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) on February 20 at the National Irrigation Authority office in Quezon City.

This is in preparation for the APEC Food Security Week and Related Meetings which is among the high-level meetings of the 23rd APEC summit to be hosted later this year by the Philippines. A consultative meeting on PPFS is among the related activities that will be conducted, alongside a High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy (HLPFSBE), High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology and Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group.

Around 200 members of the private sector, most of whom are part of the PCAF’s National Sectoral Committees (NSCs) were present at the said consultation. DA Undersecretary for Fisheries and BFAR Director Asis Perez briefly discussed the background of the APEC and the PPFS.

USec. Perez shared that the APEC-PPFS is a “unique and innovative forum” for stakeholders of food security from the public and private sectors, including business and farmers, institutes for research and development and international organizations.

“The PPFS is expected to play a major role to enhance food security of the APEC region since close collaboration among stakeholders is required to address various cross-cutting food security issues. The PPFS is tasked to primarily examine policy issues as they relate to food security, while remaining cognizant of the capacity-building work in APEC bodies,” said USec. Perez who also serves as the chairperson for the Sub-Committees on HLPFSBE, PPFS and Oceans and Fisheries Working Group that constitute the DA National Organizing Committee for the APEC Food Security Week and Related Meetings

In its inaugural meeting during the Food Security Week in 2012, the PPFS was tasked to formulate a road map which will serve as a basis for a business plan to accomplish the identified objectives and goals which is geared towards the attainment of a food system structure by 2020, sufficient to provide lasting food security to APEC members.

A forum was opened for the stakeholders to offer their insights and raise their concerns with regards food security. Among the issues raised are the huge loss and waste in the agri-fishery sector, tariff and non-tariff barriers, storage facilities, investment policy issues and harmonization of standards among APEC member countries, importation of mechanically deboned meat, and farmers’ access to credit.

They then sought for the conduct of a benchmark study on the policies, practices and subsidies offered by the other APEC member countries and a social and environmental benchmark to protect citizens and the environment.

Meanwhile, USec. Perez announced the five sub-sector groups that will be engaged in the APEC-PPFS meeting and they are Food Staples; Fruits and High Value Crops; Fisheries and Aquaculture; Poultry and Livestock and; Processing and Manufacturing. The PCAF will determine the representatives for each of the sub-sector and the BFAR will endorse the selection to the DA.


NSC, RAFC chairpersons call for increased recognition of AFCs

Increased support and recognition for the Agricultural and Fishery Councils (AFCs) is essential for the development of the agriculture and fishery sector, chairpersons of the National Sectoral Committees (NSCs) and the Regional Agricultural and Fishery Councils (RAFCs) stressed during a joint consultation last March 19.

The said consultation was conducted by the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) at the La Breza Hotel, Quezon City for its 2016 draft plan and budget proposal. A comparative analysis of the NSCs’ and the AFCs’ performance in 2010-2014 and the 2015 approved plan and budget were also presented.

The YFFTPJ Batch 2014 with their “otosan”, or foster fathers, during the YFFTPJ 30th
Anniversary Celebration and National Convention.

The NSC and RAFC Chairpersons stressed at the consultation that there should be strict compliance to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, Series of 2013, issued in January 2013, on the extension of full support to the local AFCs as private sector partners in the implementation of local development policies, plans and programs.

The memo circular has also reiterated DILG Memo Circulars 97-271 and 98-200 on the participation of the local government units (LGUs) in the AFCs and of the AFCs in the Local Development Councils and Memo Circular No. 2001-121 on the involvement of the AFCs in the local planning and budgeting to ensure inclusion of the AFC budget in the LGU’s annual appropriation.

The group of NSC and AFC chairpersons then proposed for the crafting of a set of implementing rules and regulations for the said memo circular or for its issuance as an executive order which could serve as a stronger governing instrument on the LGUs and other concerned government agencies.

They also voiced out the need to periodically re-orient the LGUs and the AFCs on the provisions of this memo circular and suggested that 80 percent of the DA’s funds for consultations for the different programs be set aside for the NSCs and the AFCs which are under the PCAF.

Apart from this, they also asked that the DA’s memorandum on the involvement of the NSCs and AFCs in the early stages of the DA planning process be strictly complied with.

The AFCs are the private sector-led advisory arm of the DA in the provinces, cities and municipalities while the NSCs are commodity-based consultative bodies at the national levels that also have regional, provincial, city and municipal counterparts within the existing AFCs.

“The role of these consultative bodies in addressing the challenges faced by the agriculture and fisheries sector and in coming up with strategies to attain sustainability and improve the lives of farmers and fisherfolk is and will continue to be paramount,” PCAF Executive Director Ariel Cayanan said in his opening remarks.

PCAF Executive Director Ariel Cayanan expounds on some of the agency’s planned
initiatives for 2016.

Strengthening policy development and monitoring efforts

With the unique collaborative mechanism that the PCAF provides for the government and private sector for policy development, the NSC and AFC chairpersons stressed the need to enhance the agency’s competency in policy analysis especially on agribusiness and supply and value-chain analysis.

To improve the policy development activities, particularly of the AFCs, the chairpersons suggested collaboration with state universities and colleges in the preparation of policy briefs, augmenting the manpower and logistical support to the provincial and municipal AFCs, and provision of incentives for the coordinators and agricultural officers especially in the municipal levels.

They also asked the PCAF to ensure that there is shared understanding among the NSCs and the AFCs on the performance indicators and targets and on their role in attaining these. They also hoped that the RAFC chairpersons also become a part of the operational planning activities being conducted by the agency for the AFCs.

For 2016, as part of its Tier 2 budget, the PCAF is proposing additional budget for the meetings of AFCs as well as incentives, study tours, trainings, and equipment provisions for them.

This is aside from the continuance of 2015 activities, indicated under the Tier 1, which include the regular meetings of the NSCs, the AFCs and the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council, which is the highest governing body supported by the PCAF, area-wide policy dialogues and forums, sectoral congresses, and the participation of NSC representatives in AFC consultations which is aimed at strengthening the relationship and linkage between the two consultative bodies.

The two tiers in the PCAF’s budget and plan proposal is in line with the Department of Budget and Management’s policy for the 2016 plan and budget preparation to separate the reviews for on-going/approved programs vis-à-vis new or expanded ones to give better focus on each type of program.

To further ensure the smooth implementation of programs and projects for the agriculture and fishery sector, the NSC and AFC chairpersons urged the PCAF to consider using the Constructors’ Performance Evaluation System for its monitoring function for 2016 and to reiterate a previous administrative order on the allocation of 15 percent of the regional banner program funds for AFC monitoring.

PCAF Deputy Executive Director addresses some of the concerns of the NSC and RAFC Chairpersons.

In her closing speech read by PCAF’s Partnership Development Division Chief Elgie Namia, Deputy Executive Director Florabelle Uy-Yap assured the NSC and AFC chairpersons that their contributions will be used in improving the agency’s 2016 plan and budget proposal and looked forward to their engagement in ensuring that the approved programs, projects and activities are carried out effectively.

Prior to the consultation, officials from the Asian Social Enterprise Incubator discussed the proposed Philippines Inclusive Business Accreditation Scheme. The said project is commissioned by the Asian Development Bank to be able to assess the viability of establishing in the Philippines a $100-million fund for “inclusive business”, which is a profitable and sustainable entrepreneurial initiative that seeks to contribute to both company growth and poverty reduction.