Inception workshop gathers agencies in a bid to accelerate climate change solutions and bolster resilience in Filipino green sectors

ANRE Inception Workshop Group Photo Banner

The Philippine agriculture sector contributes greatly to the country's gross domestic product, making long-lasting change even more crucial and urgent as climate change escalates.

The Philippine Government's quest for a ground-breaking climate change policy loan hinges on achieving specific milestones. In September this year, a workshop was convened to streamline strategies and ensure the project's success, despite its tight timeline.

September 20, 2023

These are the three takeaways coming from the workshop that I think are worth mentioning because they will contribute to the project’s success: stock-taking, the formulation of strategies for achieving results and ensuring sustained engagement of the different teams.

Team Leader and Monitoring and Evaluation expert Cesar Umali Jr

Vulnerable to extreme weather shifts that result in frequent typhoons and heatwaves, the Philippines’ agriculture sector faces two major concerns: crop damage and the livelihood of farmers. 

The Philippine agriculture sector contributes greatly to the nation’s gross domestic product, making long-lasting change even more crucial and urgent as climate change escalates. Because this issue poses great risk to the Philippine economy and the wellbeing of its people, the project “Accelerating Climate Resilience in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and the Environment” (ANRE) held an inception workshop in September with all the parties dedicated to accomplishing ANRE’s objectives.

ANRE Inception Workshop AFD Perspectives And Expectations

The first CCAP sub-programme successfully supported the Government’s implementation of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), a climate action plan, as well as assisted with initial work in priority NDC sectors in the country, such as agriculture and forestry. 

ANRE is the second sub-programme under the Climate Change Action Programme (CCAP), which aims to curtail the effects of climate change by strengthening greatly affected sectors involving agriculture, natural resources and the environment. Its overall aim is to scale up the Philippine Government’s capacity for carrying out climate change policies in the future. This is the first-ever project in history that will give rise to a policy-based loan for climate change, and NIRAS – along with International Centre for Environmental Management (ICEM) and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) – is responsible for providing technical assistance (TA) services.

The inception workshop brought together experts, partners and stakeholders to unify their vision for a more climate-resilient Philippines — but more importantly, to find approaches that will make accomplishing the outputs possible in nine months.

ANRE Inception Workshop Breakout Group (Output 3)

The day-long event saw the attendance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), as well as the project’s co-financers Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Japanese Embassy in Metro Manila, Philippines. It gave key actors of the project an avenue to sit down and discuss thoroughly how each output has to be fulfilled, in preparation for the inception report. This meant having to align project expectations with implementing and participating agencies, revise timelines and workplans and build an airtight strategy to make sure the team completes the expected deliverables within the project’s short timeframe. 

“The policies have to be ensured by March 2024, which means we have tight timeframe,” Principal Natural Resources and Agriculture Specialist Omer Zafar of the ADB says. “We’re very pleased that the firm NIRAS has been selected together with partners ICEM and SEARCA to execute this technical assistance package.”

A policy-based loan refers to the loan in a modality that the Asian Development Bank calls policy-based lending. This is done by transferring the loan not to a specific project but rather to a government’s general budget to pay for “general development expenditures”, an article in ADB’s official website says.

ANRE Inception Workshop NIRAS

In total, ANRE has three main outputs, and these are:  

  1. Strengthened climate resilience in local agriculture, which alone has three sub-outputs, namely the institutionalisation of climate-resilient agriculture, expansion of organic agriculture and development of climate-smart agricultural technologies;  
  2. Strengthened climate resilience of natural resources and the environment; and 
  3. An improved agricultural insurance for climate risk management.

Key workshop takeaways: factors that will contribute to making ANRE’s success certain 

Agreeing on deliverables, determining potential challenges and figuring out the level of feasibility of an approach were only some of the key points for dialogue among the breakout groups. For example, experts and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) had a thorough discussion on the viability of certain crops to be insured, prompting the group to develop ideas based on available studies and the situation in the Philippine market.

“These are the three takeaways coming from the workshop that I think are worth mentioning because they will contribute to the project’s success: stock-taking, the formulation of strategies for achieving results and ensuring sustained engagement of the different teams,” says Team Leader Cesar Umali Jr, who is also a Monitoring and Evaluation expert.

ANRE Inception Workshop Breakout Group (2) (1)

Stock-taking, he says, means assessing the outputs through the lens of currently available data. “We need to find out what’s there and we need to have a list of references of studies, as well as a list of other institutions involved in the outputs we’re working on.” On the other hand, strategies involve a wide array of approaches that will make collaboration and the execution of deliverables more seamless, such as having a common communication platform where everyone can easily share their data, he adds. Lastly, Cesar says sustained and consistent engagement can be done through an administrative order that will form working groups in each agency. 

“The resources at hand are huge,” he notes. “The challenge is how we will maximise the use of these resources to achieve project objectives. There's so much willingness to see this ambitious project through – it's very difficult in terms of time constraints. But it’s doable as long as you have clients who are going to cooperate with you,” she says, adding that while everyone knows the challenges ANRE will face but that, each output team had nonetheless come up with a doable workplan.

ANRE Inception Workshop ADB Closing Remarks

Moving forward: what are the next steps for the team? 

Daunting as the project sounds, Lead Agriculture Sector Specialist Lourdes Adriano says everyone in the team, which comprises no less than 40 experts, exhibited a spirit of willingness to work together to make the difficult attainable. This level of collaboration, she says, is key to a project with multiple demands and limited time. “On the part of ADB, we’re thinking one way of continuing this momentum of cooperation and coordination is to have a small technical working group,” she says. This means having focal persons or representatives from each agency to provide updates on the team’s progress. 

Cesar supports Lourdes’s suggestion, noting that there are two things the teams can do immediately after the workshop: one is to update the workplans according to the discussions, and two is for everyone to keep in touch with their team members. These next steps are what will make ANRE’s success possible. 

“Sharing of ambitions and vision can help us set out what we aim to do in nine months,” he says. 

Antti Inkinen

Antti Inkinen

Regional Office Director