By Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Senior Campaigner
Greenpeace Philippines

A recent UN report, titled “The Human Cost of Disasters,” showed that a total of 149 million Filipinos have been affected by 304 disasters in the past two decades, mainly climate disasters. Within this number are hundreds of thousands of farmers and fisherfolk whose livelihood sources are consistently devastated by strong typhoons, droughts, and sea level rise.

This proves that farmer and fisherfolk communities, inarguably the backbone of our economy, have already been grappling with their worst adversary even before the COVID19 pandemic exposed the challenges they face.

In a series of online forums organized by Greenpeace, in partnership with Rice Watch Action Network, the country’s food producers shared with us firsthand that they are burdened with the day-to-day effects of the climate crisis, along with inaccessible financial systems and unjust trade policies.

Ka Pablo Rosales, National President of PANGISDA, said in a webinar: “Kaming mga mangingisda ay may dakilang tungkulin na kunin ang produkto ng karagatan upang dalhin sa pamilihan, upang madala rin sa hapag-kainan ng mga mamamayan. Paano na kung sira na ang pangisdaan? Ano pa ang produkto ang mabibili ng pamayanan?” (It is the fisherfolks’ role to catch fish so our communities will have something to eat. If our fishing grounds continue to be threatened, how will we be able to produce food for the consumers?)

The changing weather has seen families of food producers struggle to make ends meet—going without enough to eat and dragged deeper into poverty due to livelihood losses. In 2019 alone, prolonged drought caused by an El Niño event affected nearly 250,000 farmers and fisherfolk and damaged crops and fisheries yields worth P7.96-billion in May, while in December, heavy rains brought on by Typhoon Tisoy (international name Kammuri) left P3.67-billion worth of agricultural damages.

But while they bear the brunt of the climate crisis, farmers and fisherfolk are also leading the clamor for solutions, actions, and accountability to keep their communities and our food systems afloat amid a dangerously changing climate.

Farmers and fisherfolk from various Philippine provinces, such as Bataan, Quezon, and Camarines Norte, are among the brave Filipinos to call for climate justice, when they filed a petition at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in 2015 seeking to investigate the responsibility of 47 investor-owned fossil fuel companies for their contribution to the climate crisis.

Through the petition, they seek the protection of their rights to life, livelihood, shelter, and their children’s future from the climate crisis, which is fueled by the destructive activities of the fossil fuel industry. Once released, the petition’s resolution can provide a legal and political backbone to secure the future of Filipino communities from the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

For them, this petition is a lifeline—not only for their families, but for all Filipinos whose food security is threatened with the disruption of agricultural productivity.



The struggles of farmers and fisherfolk, along with other vulnerable sectors, are what compel environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace Philippines, to call on the Philippine government to issue a Climate Emergency Declaration. Declaring a Climate Emergency will put climate action at the center of the government’s policy-making and will put forward efforts to transition to a low-carbon pathway through the phaseout of coal and fossil fuel investments. This will also strengthen communities’ call to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the climate crisis, thus advancing the call for climate justice.

On World Food Day, as the world highlights the theme “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our Actions are our Future,” hundreds of thousands of food producers are once again threatened as they face the aftermath of Typhoon Ofel. This means hundreds of tons of destroyed crops, wasted capital, mounting debts, and another harvest season wasted.

When President Rodrigo Duterte asked world leaders to honor their commitments to combat the crisis because Filipinos cannot afford to suffer more, we think of the country’s food producers and how, ironically, they struggle to put food on their families’ tables, on top of disruption of access to their livelihoods.

This is a reminder that we cannot talk about growing, nourishing, and sustaining our food systems without addressing the issue of accountability and taking urgent actions amid the climate emergency.

The fight of our food producers is our fight too–one that requires urgency for the attainment of climate justice for farmers, fisherfolk, and every Filipino.