Legarda calls for agri biodiversity for resilience, food security

February 24, 2023

Amidst the continuing warnings of the agricultural sector on the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda calls for a massive shift on how we do agriculture in a changing climate.

“Change is inevitable, I want us to take this opportunity to make the necessary shifts to resiliency and to protect our food supply. Business as usual cannot continue, but subsidies for the same type of agriculture also must go,” she stated.

The RCEP is the first Free Trade Agreement (FTA) of the Philippines that reaffirmed the rights and obligations of State parties under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) signed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 5 June 1992.

In late 2022, the Conference of Parties of the CBD affirmed new and unprecedented agreements that affect global agriculture. Among other commitments, the parties agreed to a 2030 deadline to:

– Reduce by half both excess nutrients and the overall risk posed by pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals; and

– Progressively phase out or reform by 2030 subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity’s conservation and sustainable use.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Asst. Sec. Allan Gepty, the Philippines’ chief negotiator for the RCEP, emphasizes that the language of the agreement on biodiversity should help ensure that countries that ratify the RCEP will be mindful of the effects on biodiversity and the environment, as well as the need to promote sustainable development in crafting their policies and programs.

“Related to this, the Philippines, under services, made specific commitments on Research and Development Services on Agricultural Sciences. This commitment is expected to make R&D more accessible to the agriculture sector by signaling that the country is open for collaboration in generating new products, services, processes, or other solutions with respect to the sector,” he said.

The Global Environment Facility predicts that 95% of land worldwide would be degraded by 2050 if trends for fertility reduction continue, while the Executive Director of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) bewails that up to 1.8T USD or 2% of global GDP goes to perverse incentives that are harmful to biodiversity, with 30% of these driving unsustainable agricultural practices.

“It is worth highlighting that Article 17.10 of the RCEP refers to compliance with the Convention on Biological Diversity. This should consider the implementation of the recently adopted Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, specifically its Target 18 to reduce harmful subsidies by at least USD500 billion per year by 2030 and would definitely be something to watch out for,” Legarda said.

“The commitment of 15 countries with 29% of global GDP to realize this target will contribute significantly to overcoming biodiversity loss and the climate crisis,” she furthered. (end)