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Back into the Green

by: Larry Villanueva

Green. This word means a lot of different things to me. It could signify the color of my high school alma mater or a lot of dirty jokes told over beer or coffee. It may also describe my view of the Philippines because, in my opinion, one commonality between all 7,107 islands is that wherever you go, you will definitely see the color green, from the farms in the countryside to the forests

and even the coastal waters are greenish.

What green really meant to me, though, was the industry that I had been involved in for the past nine years or so. It was food and agriculture, its agencies like the DA, DAR and DENR, its programs like the Young Farmers Program or New Farmers Program and laws such as the AFMA or Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act, and the Organic Agriculture Act. After saying goodbye to this world in 2010, I have, to my strange surprise, been pulled back into it. I am back in the green.

I’m not back in government service though; rather, I am now sitting at the other side of the table. Furthermore, I’m not directly involved in agriculture and fisheries but I am, I think, looking at the sector through the over-arching view of climate change.

The term climate change scares me because from the agricultural sector viewpoint, it could mean more frequent El Niño or La Niña, less harvest, more fishkills, widespread pest infestation, and so on. I am, like many Filipinos, a person who values the food that I eat and I wouldn’t want anything to affect my food and my food supply.

My own up close, personal experience with climate change was in 2009 when Typhoon Ondoy hit Metro Manila and I was stuck with my family at the second floor of our house due to flooding for about two weeks. I remember having to wade through floodwaters just to get to the supermarket and supplies and wade back in again to go home.

In the aftermath of Ondoy, the clarion call to mitigate and adapt to climate change was louder than ever. Every meeting attended by my boss back then involved a discussion on how government agencies like the DA or DENR were responding to climate change. She even produced video materials which she distributed to national government agencies, local government units and state universities and colleges. She was, after all, the lead author of RA 9729 or the

Climate Change Act.

It’s been three years since I left the world of agriculture and fisheries so I have to re-learn some concepts and ideas and I have to learn new ones as well. I definitely have to learn a lot of new acronyms because people just love their acronyms.

Climate change is new territory for me and it encompasses not only agri-fisheries, which I am quite familiar with, but also other industries like health, finance, infrastructure and education. It is good

to know that despite whatever shortcomings our government has had in responding and adapting to climate change, steps are being taken and that goes a long way. We can already boast that our government has enacted RA 10174 or the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) which is meant to provide funding for addressing the problems of climate change. I may be wrong but I don’t think a lot of countries have enacted laws like the PSF.

I am now part of an effort to come up with policies and practical solutions on climate change in the Philippines. I have been accepted into the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities and I look forward to the challenge and I certainly hope to make a contribution. I suppose that, from now on, green will also have to mean iCSC.

 

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