Participatory multi-stakeholder dialogues in the Philippines lead to inclusive and well-informed decision-making on land conversion and water provisioning.
In 2019 Forest Foundation Philippines (FFP), Tropenbos International’s partner in the Philippines, organized a second set of multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder dialogues in three focal landscapes: Sierra Madre, Palawan and Bukidnon-Misamis Oriental. (The first dialogues took place in 2018.) Participating parties were the Departments of Environment and Agriculture, CSOs, people’s organizations and academic institutions.
Thanks to these dialogues, cooperation has been established between the academic world, CSOs and local authorities that did not exist before. Studies have started in the landscapes, in most cases baseline assessments for sustainable and inclusive landscape governance.
The dialogues focus on land conversion (especially from forest to commodities such as rice, corn, oil palm and pineapple) and water provisioning, especially related to pending dam construction and water shortages during the dry season.
To date, the dialogues have brought about several outcomes in the three landscapes. In Sierra Madre, five local government units (LGUs), together with an academic institution, applied landscape approaches and inclusive strategies to manage Mount Balasig watershed. The same approach is also being established in Bukidnon-Misamis Oriental, where LGUs and an academic institution are leading an inclusive watershed management initiative for Mount Malindawag. In Palawan, stakeholders from various sectors have decided to come together by formalizing a landscape governance core group. The group will help promote inclusivity and the use of landscape approaches in various governance bodies in Palawan.
The dialogues are part of the Sustainable and Inclusive Landscape Governance programme, which aims to build on landscape experiences and promote best practices. It also aims to develop methodologies and tools that can help landscape stakeholders co-create and co-implement landscape governance activities.
Governance in the Philippines has traditionally been top-down and not very participatory. This certainly was the case in natural resources management. The dialogues, on the other hand, are inclusive, which means that stakeholders from different sectors and different levels of governance are involved. This gives them a voice in the decision-making process. It is hoped that through these dialogues the government and the national agencies will engage in more inclusive policy-making. Local government is open to this, but the higher the level of governance, the greater the challenge.
FFP is a reputable organization that has built landscape governance into its own programmes, prompted by its collaboration with Tropenbos International.
Published in the Annual Report 2019