SEARCA Experts Lead Regional Consultation for New Climate Smart Agri Guidelines

  • By Elson Ian Nyl Ebreo Galang
  • 21 July 2021, Wednesday

The first regional consultation workshop conducted on 07 July 2021 discussed the development of the third volume of the ASEAN Guidelines for Promoting Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) Practices. Held virtually, experts from the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) served as key presenters and led the discussions on the Guideline’s development process.

This workshop was organized by the ASEAN Climate Resilience Network (ASEAN-CRN) and hosted by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI). It aims to create a joint understanding among ASEAN Member States (AMS) on the development process of the third volume that reflects new CSA trends that respond to emerging challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, it aims to gain insights for the development of a complementary implementation strategies to guide AMS in promoting CSA practices in their respective countries.

Dr. Romeo V. Labios, SEARCA Lead Expert in this initiative, presents the Philippine Strategies for ARD under Climate Change. Dr. Romeo V. Labios, SEARCA Lead Expert in this initiative, presents the Philippine Strategies for ARD under Climate Change.

Dr. Romeo V. Labios, Agronomist and SEARCA Lead Expert for the initiative, presented the development process of the first two volumes (i.e., 2015 and 2017) of the ASEAN Guidelines. He outlined the CSA practices, the selection process of these practices, and other key contents of each of the existing volumes. Furthermore, Dr. Labios discussed the recently published review of the Climate Smart Land Use (CSLU) in ASEAN Project that provided eight key recommendations in terms of the outputs, process, and adoption that should be considered for the third volume.

After his presentation, Dr. Labios facilitated a general discussion that elicited suggestions to improve the development process and outputs of the third volume of the Guideline.  The discussions highlighted the participants’ hope to feature CSA practices at food systems level that address impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other global environmental changes. They also strongly encourage that AMS be given guiding approaches on how to implement CSA.

Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, SEARCA's Program Head of the Research and Thought Leadership Department, presents the impacts of salinity and drought in the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam.Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, SEARCA's Program Head of the Research and Thought Leadership Department, presents the impacts of salinity and drought in the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam.

Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, SEARCA's Program Head of the Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD), then provided a presentation of related shocks and stresses to climate change in SEA — emphasizing how these should be considered in selecting the appropriate CSA practices and implementation strategies. He discussed a case study in the Mekong River Delta of Vietnam which faces worsening droughts and salinity. Dr. Orencio noted how the area could adapt CSA practices such as salt-tolerant rice and corn varieties that would address impacts and allow the communities achieve food and income security.

Dr. Labios later presented a participatory prioritization approach that would allow AMS to choose suitable CSA practices across various scales in their countries. He explained that such approach uses indicator-based assessments that encompasses the pillars of CSA, feasibility, adoption barriers, incentive mechanisms, and implementation players. He then discussed the proposed implementation strategies based on the Philippine Strategies towards Transforming Agriculture and Rural Development under Climate Change.  This served as the take-off point for the succeeding breakout room session.

During the breakout room sessions, participants were divided into four groups based on the number of registered participants from each country: Group A (Philippines), Group B (Myanmar), Group C (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos PDR), and Group D (Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei). Each group discussed the relevancy in their countries, as well as the facilitating and hindering factors, of these proposed implementation strategies. Participants also shared additional reflections regarding prioritization of relevant and suitable CSA practices given emerging stresses. Common insights across all groups include the following:

  • Across AMS, there is a recognition of contribution of existing CSA practices in Volumes I and II into the three pillars of CSA— increasing productivity and income, enhancing resilience and ecosystems, reducing/removing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • There is also a recognition of the importance of assessment indicators in the prioritization of context-specific CSA practices.
  • Workshop participants agree with the significance of implementation strategies in the operationalization of CSA practices, and,
  • They all echo that importance of systems-level approach to CSA to address and complement issues of evolving shocks and stresses across food systems including the pandemic.

Serving as the lead consultant, SEARCA will draft the outline of the third volume for further consultation with ASEAN-CRN, the ASEAN Technical Working Group on Agricultural Research and Development (ATWGARD), representatives from relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies (e.g., ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change), and representatives of development agencies and research institutions— all of whom also participated in the workshop.

This development process for the third CSA volume is supported by the Climate Smart Land Use (CSLU) in ASEAN project which is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).