Comentarios oficiales del Diálogo para la Cumbre de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Sistemas Alimentarios de 2021
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As part of the activity of the Philippines in contribution for the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, the Department of Agriculture will conduct a National Dialogue on Responsible Agricultural Investments.
Institutionally, there was created in 2005 a United Nation Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) whose mission was to understand the investment implications of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors; and to support its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions. The PRI has grown to more than 3,000 companies and in Asia the regional group is dominated by Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. There seems to be no Filipino company involved in the PRI.
In 2014, the FAO approved principles of responsible agricultural investments – a voluntary
and non-binding instrument. Philippine private sector involvement in multilateral governance activities was done through the APEC and the World Economic Forum. The Philippine experience involves with the World Economic Forum, which is best known for its Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters. However in Asia, the WEF also has an active presence and in fact had linkages with the APEC organization.
Some time on February 2021, Pilipinas Kontra Gutom (PKG), a national and multi-sectoral anti-hunger movement was formed to work together on various programs with a common goal: 1 million fewer hungry Filipinos by 2022 and hopefully eradicate hunger by 2030. PKG’s initial projects includes: (1) Farmer assistance; (2) Sustainable nutrition programs; (3) Disaster response; and (4) Food banking.
But as one can immediately see, PKG is not meant to be an instrument to invest in agriculture. Its investments will be in upstream-downstream agricultural projects i.e. value chain projects and logistics improvements. Hand in hand with this is the establishment of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network in the Philippines under the aegis of the National Nutrition Council (NNC). Most of the corporate members of this organization are the same members of PKG.
What is really needed are investments in agriculture to put into concrete terms the eight (8) paradigms of the Department of Agriculture. Recently, Fernando Zobel de Ayala was quoted promoting the idea of inclusive capitalism. It will be interesting to hear his theory. After all, his idea may be a levelling up of his late uncle Enrique Zobel’s theory of the working rich expounded during the tumultuous years of the 1970s.
By leveraging private engagements, the eight (8) paradigms i.e. Farm Consolidation, Modernization, Industrialization, Export Promotion and Infrastructure Development, can be realized. This can be done if the regulatory environment is transparent and consistent. If one is looking for a model, one can take a look at Marsman Estate Plantation Inc. (MEPI)
On the other hand, it is also imperative for the private sector to be briefed by government on the opportunities and its programs on agri-fishery investments, as well as on the regulatory environment that they will be dealing with when investing.
It is within this context that a dialogue with the private sector is envisioned to be held. Participants of the dialogue will have the opportunity to exchange ideas with a panel of discussants on the topic of responsible agricultural investment. They will likewise have the opportunity to be updated on the various government policies on investments, such as RA 11534 or the Create Law, which entered into force on 11 April 2021. The dialogue will then be a venue for sharing ideas on how to maximize our regulatory environment to attract
more foreign and domestic investments on the agri-fishery sector that will enable the entire food value chain become more sustainable and resilient to environment shocks.