Special News ReportsWritten by PDI AdminFriday, 28 May 2010 06:05
Press ReleaseUshering A Climate Of Change
Redistributing property rights through agrarian reform is a key policy direction that should be taken by thenew administration of president apparent Benigno Aquino III to help the country adapt to climate change,experts on land reform and asset change said at a recent conference.The “National Conference on Asset Reform and Climate Change” organized by the Project DevelopmentInstitute, an NGO advocating agrarian reform, and the Department of Agrarian Reform, on Wednesdaycalled on the incoming Aquino administration to reverse the effects and impact of climate change byreshaping government policies toward the rural poor, who are the most vulnerable to the vagaries of theenvironment.James Putzel of the Crisis States Research Center at the London School of Economics, who has doneextensive studies on land reform in the Philippines, said a rise in the sea level threatens the livelihoods andsurvival of 70 percent of the country's 1,500 seaside municipalities along the Philippines' 32,000-kilometerdiscontinuous coast line – one of the longest in the world.Climate change also will affect access to and management of fresh water and likely aggravate the impactof natural disasters on the country, and cause declines in agricultural production.DAR Undersecretary Narciso Nieto said the agency is “thinking about recasting” its strategy on buildingagrarian reform communities to meet the effects of climate change and “how this will shape the over-allnature and priorities of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.” He said climate change will prove costly to investments already made on water impounding systems andcommunal irrigation, which were not built to withstand the expected increased demand for householdconsumption during the El Nino months or the expected large volumes of rain during the monsoon season.Climate change also will render upland communities vulnerable to landslides during the rainy season andto bush and forest fires during the dry spells, he said.In addition, entrants or migrants fleeing the deadly effects of climate change in their areas will createtension and pressure on communities they decide settle in. Such conflicts can now be seen in the Bicolregion, Mindoro, Negros and Central and Northern Mindanao, Nieto said.The challenges from climate change confronting the country “are highly political, deeply connected toimmediate problems of poverty,” Putzel said.The challenges also “raise immediate issues of national policy in relation to strategies for agricultural andindustrial production and redistributive reform – not least agrarian reform,” he said. “ Climate change adaptation measures need, first and foremost, to reduce the vulnerability of bothcommunities and production systems to the instabilities of climatic conditions,” he said.This entails the “distribution and redistribution of land rights” to encourage investments and improvementson the land and gain access to credit lines to finance them, he said. “ We have long known that small holders deal better with the microclimates that characterize farmingeverywhere and in conditions of capital scarcity they make better use of labor and land than do large farmoperators,” he said.