The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and the Provincial Local Government Unit of Nueva Vizcaya (PLGU Nueva Vizcaya) have forged a partnership to implement the project “Research for Development: Payment for Ecosystem Services Outcome for Sustainable Water Provision (R4D: PESO SWaP) in Barobbob Watershed, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines.”
The project will enable UPLB and PLGU Nueva Vizcaya to develop and pilot a payment for ecosystem services (PES) mechanism for improved water supply in the Barobbob watershed.
Representatives of both parties signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) covering the partnership last March 28 at the Executive Building Conference Hall of the Capitol Main Building in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
Dr. Juan Pulhin, chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management (UPLB-INREM) and project leader of R4D: PESO SWaP, represented Chancellor Jose Camacho, Jr. at the MOA signing while Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla represented his province.
Under the MOA, UPLB and PLGU Nueva Vizcaya are expected to “coordinate and contribute resources and expertise to implement the project.” PLGU Nueva Vizcaya is tasked to provide focal persons to become members of a technical working group (TWG) and assist in implementing the various project activities.
At the MOA signing, Engr. Edgardo D. Sabado, the coordinator for the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Planning and Development, highlighted the importance of the project to their province.
“Whatever results of this project will serve as a reference for the province in terms of policy direction and development in the future,” Engr. Sabado said.
Dr. Pulhin, for his part, expressed hopes that the experiences and lessons from the project will be scaled up in other watersheds in the region.
He talked about the long-term partnership of UPLB and Nueva Vizcaya, which began in 2003 with the province being UPLB’s “learning laboratory.”
Governor Padilla reiterated the importance of protecting watersheds and said that choosing their province as a site for the research project is valuable for them, as the province could serve as a model for developing a national policy for payment for water ecosystem services.
After the MOA signing, the project team and representatives from different provincial and municipal local government offices, national government agencies, and other local institutional stakeholders conducted a meeting to create the technical working group (TWG) for the project. Dr. Pulhin discussed the roles and responsibilities of the TWG while the project team provided the project’s schedule of activities.
The following day, March 29, the R4D: PESO SWaP project team members conducted an institutional stakeholders’ analysis through a focus group discussion (FGD).
It aimed to have a deeper understanding of the property rights of the stakeholders and their respective interests in relation to the Barobbob watershed from the perspective of the different concerned institutions. An earlier FGDs conducted among upland farmers and irrigators associations in the area will supplement this FGD.
Outputs from the FGDs, household survey, and modeling work will be synthesized by the project team and validated among the different stakeholders. This will be the basis for the project to craft the payment for ecosystem service (PES) mechanism for water resources in the area.
The R4D: PESO SWaP is a project funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), which aims to develop and pilot a PES mechanism for improved water supply in the Barobbob watershed in Nueva Vizcaya. Experience from this pilot project will serve as one of the bases for crafting a national protocol towards the institutionalization of payment for water ecosystem services to help finance sustainable watershed management in the Philippines (Marielle R. Baliwag, University Research Associate II – UPLB-INREM)