Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Philippine diplomats briefed on IRRI’s climate-smart efforts

Officials from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) visited IRRI on 24 January 2015 to find out more about the Institute’s work, particularly about its climate-smart initiatives.

The group was briefed on how IRRI supports the country’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program. They were also given a glimpse of IRRI’s work in various countries in Asia and other regions of the world in which rice is grown, with emphasis on partnerships with national governments.

The 22 foreign service officers, led by Bernadette Fernandez, executive director of the DFA’s United Nations and International Organization (UNIO), were welcomed by Robert Zeigler, IRRI director general.

Dr. Zeigler also showed Ms. Fernandez a scale model of the Lloyd T. Evans Plant Growth Facility that will soon rise at the Institute’s research complex. A groundbreaking ceremony for the facility was held yesterday, with Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the food and agriculture committee of the Philippine Senate, and a representative of the Australian government, which funded construction of the structure through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Ms. Fernandez said that exposure to IRRI’s work, and to agriculture in general, would help round out foreign service officers’ experiences toward familiarizing themselves with the contexts of many of the groups of people they work with, and IRRI’s basic rice production courses might be a good start.

Mr. Val Roque, director of the DFA-UNIO, intimated that the DFA has a special interest on climate change because of negotiations for a universal agreement that is slated to happen in Paris later this year. The Philippines is going to take part in the said agreement and will have to come up with its own plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by June. "The goal is to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius" to protect  the global food supply against the effects of climate change, said Mr. Roque.

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