Corresponding Author

Sining Cuevas
University of the Philippines Los Baños

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Philippine Institutions and Complex Institutional arrangements for Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture

  •   Received: 09 January 2020 / Accepted: 28 October 2020/ Published online: 25 January 2021


  • In the Philippines, local agricultural CCA works within three IEs—agriculture, CCA, local governance. At the national scale, lack of cohesion among formal rules is the chief barrier to adaptation.
  • Both the formal rules and social structures—culture, norms, practices—have significant influence over the local IE. The Local Government Code is the key formal rule governing the local IE.
  • The Code has counterproductive interplays with rules governing agriculture and CCA. It promoted the personality-driven style of local governance and fostered the padrino (patronage) system in local government units
  • A lack of institutional support mechanisms necessary to bridge the gaps among institutions prevails in all IEs, affecting the effective operationalization of national interests.
  • Effective local CCA is possible when the local chief executive champions the cause; the climate change champion functions as the institution that connects individuals to society towards the agenda.


Addressing climate change necessitates creating new, or building the capacity of old, institutions. Institutions are vital tools that determine the intensity by which climate change considerations are incorporated into the decision-making process, designs, and plans. This article aims to illustrate that it is necessary to understand the institutional environment where the climate change adaptation (CCA) endeavors will be implemented such that local CCA policies, plans, and programs can be implemented effectively. The paper also intends to demonstrate that, along with the scientific and technological discussions, institutional conversations should be among the initial vital steps in CCA planning, and that the institutional dimension should be the foundation of broader reforms toward an effective CCA implementation. The paper accomplished this by investigating the conditions in the local agriculture and CCA in the Philippines. The paper applied the Institutional Environment Matrix as the main analytical framework.

The analysis showed that the existing institutional dynamics in the Philippines have impacted the effectiveness of the introduced CCA policies and efforts. The Local Government Code of the Philippines had counterproductive interplays with other institutional rules; first in agriculture, and afterwards, in CCA. The Code has devolved tasks to the local governments, provided local government units with extensive authority over their jurisdictions, and improved autonomy in local governance. However, it lacks the arrangements that would create (dis)incentives for individual and collective actions (i.e., rewards and penalties, payoffs on actions). Likewise, institutional mechanisms to support the devolution of government services are wanting. Such institutional environment in local governance has curtailed the effectiveness of local agricultural policies and the efficient implementation of new CCA policies.

This article advocates that analyzing the institutional environment where the CCA endeavors will be implemented will enable policy makers and CCA planners to understand better and to have deeper perception of the interlinkages between and among institutional arrangements. In the case of the Philippines, if the local agricultural institutional environment was considered in the design and implementation of the CCA policies, institutional support mechanisms that can address the existing issues and concerns in local agriculture may have been incorporated into these policies. Such action may have helped implementers to avoid the same difficulties in operationalizing CCA initiatives. Accordingly, the paper analyzed how CCA is operationalized through an institutional lens, and presented how institutional analysis is important in policy making. It further demonstrated the complexity of institutional linkages and raised the conversation on the institutional dimension of CCA.



Institutional environment, Local climate change adaptation, Institutional dimension of climate change adaptation, Institutional interplays, Philippine local agricultural adaptation

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