The National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC), the consultative arm of the Department of Agriculture, led the conduct of an area-wide conference entitled “Charting Our Water Future: A Multi-Stakeholder Policy and Program Dialogue” at the Harbor Lights Hotel and Restaurant at Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City.

In partnership with other national government agencies like Bureau of Soils and Water Management, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, National Water Resources Board and the National Anti-Poverty Commission, the NAFC gathered various stakeholders to draw out discussions on water and water-related policy issues and concerns from the different regions in Northern Mindanao consisting of Regions IX, X and Caraga. This is also co-sponsored by the SN|Aboitiz Power Group, one of the leading companies that has stake on water-related concerns.

This activity is actually the first leg of a series of area-wide forums which seeks to draw together inputs from various stakeholders nationwide for the development of a platform of action or agenda to achieve water security specifically for the agriculture and fisheries sector.

This series of activity will also serve as venue for building a shared understanding of the water-related challenges and constraints facing the agriculture and fisheries sector and impacting on food security, productivity and market competitiveness. In addition, it seeks to encourage stakeholders to adapt Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) practices and initiatives especially in the areas of water use efficiency, demand management and watershed protection as well as recommend policies and innovative instruments to govern the water security relevant dimensions of agriculture and fisheries.

Other legs of this series of dialogues will be conducted on June 10-11, 2010 also in Cagayan de Oro City for Regions XI, XII and ARMM; June 15-16 and 17-18, 2010 in Pampanga for the Luzon cluster of regions and June 22-23, 2010 in Bohol for the Visayas regions.

These multi-stakeholder dialogues are participated in by representatives of local government units, civil society organizations, state universities and colleges, private sector-led agricultural and fishery councils, media and regional offices of national government agencies like the DA, DAR, DENR, NEDA, DPWH, DILG, DOST, DOH and the NDCC. Other national and local agencies or organizations invited to participate are Climate Change Commission, Environment Management Bureau, National Irrigation Administration, Philippine Animal Welfare Bureau, and others.

In this dialogue, various activities are carried out including a presentation on the country’s current water resources situationer which spelled out its general dismal state that needs to be addressed immediately. This is followed by a lecture discussion on Integrated Water Resources Management or IWRM for agriculture and fisheries. Based on the Philippine IWRM Framework Plan, IWRM is a systematic, adaptive process conducted in collaboration with stakeholders for the sustainable development and management of water and related sources in the context of social equity, economic and environmental objectives. It essentially consists of a set of principles on the proper utilization and management of water resources as a strategy to adapt to climate change and develop climate change resiliency. For the agriculture and fisheries sector, achieving water security is an adaptation strategy to build a climate resilient agricultural and fisheries sector to anticipate, effectively prepare for, reduce vulnerabilities and manage effects of intense climatic occurrences and contribute to poverty reduction and sustain rural development.

Other sessions include lectures on Climate Change Impacts: Risk Assessment and Vulnerability Mapping, and the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change Focusing on Water, Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

To come up with the desired action agenda to be pursued in this part of the country, various presentations, experience sharing sessions and workshops covering specific themes are also conducted. These themes include Pathways to Ecosystem Health, Biodiversity and Water Security (Clean, Safe and Healthy Water for All); Promoting Water Stewardship and Increasing Water Use Efficiency in Agriculture (Demand-side and Supply-side Water Management); and Climate Change Compliant Fishery and Aquatic Resources Management. Regional cluster group workshops followed which resulted in the development of regional action agenda. This will be consolidated with the expected outputs of the other area-wide dialogues to be conducted in Luzon and Visayas. All these will be processed and the consolidated recommendations will be presented to the next administration.

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