[Press Release] CSOs welcomed UN official and raised issues on food security in the context of disasters climate justice in PH -ATM

CSOs welcomed UN official and raised issues on food security in the context of disasters climate justice in PH

Tacloban, Philippines— More than 100 representatives from various Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and Yolanda survivors welcomed the arrival of Dr. Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and raised critical issues of the people against the policies of the Philippine government of food security in the context of disasters and climate change.


The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the right to food will visit the Philippines from February 20 to 27 to gather information on the state of the right to food among Filipinos.

During her mission the Special Rapporteur will collect first-hand information in relation to the realization of the right to food and will examine how the State is addressing the situation of those who do not have adequate access to food.

Food Security Threatened

“We welcome the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur to our country to help us build our struggle in achieving food security and fight for our right to food even in the face of a changing climate,” said Gerry Arances, national coordinator, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ).

The Philippines is already one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change today. The Philippines country is ranked second in the 2014 Climate Change Risk Index of Germanwatch.

“Her visit will also be instrumental in exposing the policies of the government that aggravates the vulnerabilities of communities such as the promotion of dirty energy that threaten food production and even human health,” said Arances.

Based on the latest data of PMCJ, from an existing 17 coal-fired power plants, there will be an additional 26 coal plant projects that are expected to be online by 2020, owed to 71 coal-operating contracts awarded by the government from 2007 to 2013, despite the global movement to divest from coal

Destructive and Extractive Projects

Adding to the burden of dirty energy is the destruction of livelihood promoted by so-called “development projects” such as mining.

According to Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), mining for other resources such as nickel and other minerals equally threaten food security in the country. In Zambales for example, half a billion pesos, or $12 million worth of rice, mango and fish was lost due to the introduction of nickel mining. This is also the case in MacArthur, Leyte, which was opened for mining—communities are reeling from its negative impacts further exacerbated by Yolanda.

“Mining has no place in a vulnerable country like the Philippines and yet our government chose extraction of minerals over rights of the people to have a safe and sustainable environment.” said Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of ATM.

We are not only at risk from extractive industries but from the food industry as well. According to recent studies, the Philippines has risen to being the fourth largest importer of rice in the world, accounting for 4% of the world’s rice import volume in 2010.

“We need to increase our capacity to produce our own food for the consumption of our people while reducing the impacts of extractive and dirty industries such as mining and coal powerplant. Without doing so, our food security will continually be at risk,” said Garganera

“These issues are aggravated by mal-development projects like high importation of rice and mining in agricultural and coastal areas. Ironically, the more businesses such as these thrive the more livelihoods of communities and general food security is threatened” said Garganera.

Marine resource at risk

The marine ecosystem, where 60% of the total protein intake of Filipinos comes from, are also among those affected by the climate crisis. According to a study by the World Bank on the acidification of seas in the Southeast Asian region, a 150% acidification rate is most likely to occur by 2100.

“Fisherfolk communities will continue to suffer the consequences of the impacts of climate change and more must be done by the government to alleviate these impacts on marine resources before its too late”, said Dennis Calvan, Executive Director, Non-Government Organization for Fisheries Reform (NFR).

From diverse sectors concerned with the issue of climate justice and food security, various CSOs urged the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to consider the issues of land grabbing, nutrition of vulnerable groups such as women, children and people with disabilities, access to livelihood, and food during emergency situation and in responding to the issue of climate, disasters and food security. In particular, recommendations were made on the following issues:
– Enabling systematic changes to the agricultural sector, which would put the need and the right for food first before profit;
– Ensure that food producers’ access to and control of land and water resources are protected in the recovery and rehabilitation process
– Compel the Philippine government to make the necessary policy shift away from import-dependent strategy, and development projects that are exacerbating vulnerabilities, and a shift away from false solutions, and ineffective policies, programs and projects.

– A more substantial reduction of emissions from Annex 1 countries, and corresponding reduction from all other countries to avoid 2 degree increase and beyond; and public financing, mainly from developed countries, for adaptation measures and damages incurred to developing countries like the Philippines – particular the impacts to right to food of communities and the people.
– Put special concern and priority for the regions most devastated by the climate crisis, particularly to ensure their access to food in the aftermath of disasters and the long-term productivity and resilience of small farmers and the fishing sectors.

The town hall meeting, which took place at Brgy. 88, Fisherman’s Village, San Jose, Tacloban City, was organised by the CSO Coordinating Committee, Eastern Visayas Network of NGOs, NGO for Fisheries Reform, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, and hosted by the Tacloban Fisherfolk Urban Association.

The Special Rapporteur’s findings and recommendations to the Government of the Philippines and other stakeholders will ultimately be included in a report presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016. Her preliminary findings will be shared with the Government focal point and subsequently presented at a Press Conference at the end of the visit.###

Additional Information:

The CSO Coordinating Committee for the entry conference of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right To Food comprised of 25 national organizations from NGOs, farmers, women, labor, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, social movements ,the religious, human rights community and academe.

For more information:

Check Zabala, Alyansa Tigil Mina Media and Communications Officer, (0927) 623.50.66 <checkzab@gmail.com>

Press Release
February 21, 2014

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