Land is a fundamental but limited resource that serves as a major platform for socioeconomic activities essential to human development. Thus, it is the policy of the State to provide for a rational, holistic, and just allocation, utilization, management and development of the country’s land resources to ensure their optimum use consistent with the principles of sustainable development. Land use/physical planning has been adopted as a mechanism to guide decisions on how land and natural resources would be allocated, utilized and peacefully managed to benefit the present and future generations.
Recognizing those issues and concerns, the Caraga Regional Development Council (RDC) spearheaded in close cooperation with the GIZ Conflict Sensitive Resources and Asset Management (COSERAM), the GIZ Protected Area Management Enhancement (PAME), the GIZ Environment Rural Development Program (EnRD), the GIZ Promotion of Green Economic Development Project (ProGED) and GIZ Support to the Climate Change Commission (CCC+) a one and a half day Regional Land Use Forum at Almonts Inland Resort in Butuan City, which was one of the core activities during the Caraga Development Week (CDW). The CDW is an annual celebration in commemoration of the creation of Caraga Region on 23 February 1995. With a theme, “A Better Future for You and Me, Think and Act Sustainability”, the Forum generated supports and commitments for a peaceful resolution and transformation of the persistent issues confronting the region’s land use and natural resources management.
In Caraga Region, the RDC is confronted with a major challenge of ensuring a balanced development that guarantees not only economic growth but also the preservation of culture and integrity of the environment. Meeting this challenge requires unity of purpose, complementation, and harmonization of all development plans and interventions of government instrumentalities at various levels of governance. This is a challenge in itself because of inconsistent policies, bureaucratic processes, and conflicting interests that affect utilization and management of the region’s land and natural resources. Mechanisms have been established through the issuance of Joint Memorandum Circulars/ Administrative Orders between and among concerned agencies. However, these mechanisms have yet to take off and be institutionalized at the regional and local levels.
The Forum has been actively participated by all local chief executives (LCEs), local planning and development coordinators (LPDCs), private sector and selected national government agencies. The Forum was designed to inform, revitalize and strengthen linkages and efforts between and among stakeholders on land use/physical planning. Specifically, the forum achieved the following: It re-oriented the approx. 200 participants on the land use policy framework and land management regimes in the Philippines, familiarized the participants on Integrated Ecosystem Management (IEM) Approach and Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (DRR/CCA) concepts, tools and methodologies. Furthermore it apprised the participants on the state of the region’s land and natural resources and the development challenges confronting it and acquainted the participants on the recent development efforts within Caraga Region and other areas in the country on sustainable land use and natural resources management.
Map showing conflicting land uses on mineral reservation, protection forest, CADT areas, tenements, key-biodiversity areas and tenurial instruments (please click on it for a clearer view)
The results of the Land Rights Study conducted under the COSERAM Program funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) in Caraga Region indicated that complex institutional ownership, structural and administrative defects in the Philippine land administration system, weak institutional/ organizational set up of the local government units (LGUs), lack of functional communication system, competing interests and overlapping norms are some of the major underlying causes of land use/resource conflict in the Caraga Region. Among others, the said event highlighted some of the existing laws and policies governing land use and natural resources management; there were also be presentations on sharing of experiences on selected initiatives implemented in the region and other areas in the country from GIZ COSERAM, GIZ PAME, GIZ EnRD, GIZ CCC+ and GIZ ProGED.
By Wilfried Gebhardt, GIZ development worker assigned to NEDA Caraga