Experts Discussed the “Strange” Things of 2020 During the 1st SESAM International Research Symposium

Scientists from various fields gathered in the 1st School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB) International Research Symposium last December 11, 2020 via online platforms Zoom, YouTube and Facebook Live stream. 

With the theme “The Year when Truth was Stranger than Fiction: Rallying the Global Environmental Community to Negotiate for Human Security”, the resource persons talked about the pandemic that were and still are in 2020, which include the strong typhoons, floods, African Swine Fever, the Covid-19 pandemic and its severe effect to the economy. In the afternoon session, a call to open a new collaboration for international environmental negotiations and diplomacy was urged, in conjunction with SESAM’s pursuit to institutionalize a graduate course on the said field.  

In her message, For. Sofia A. Alaira, head of SESAM’s Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD), enumerated the disasters that relentlessly affected humans this year. For his part, Chancellor Jose DV. Camacho congratulated SESAM for this initiative and called for unity in action. “In these trying times, compassion is the most important thing to show”, Chancellor Camacho stressed.

In the morning session, updates about the status of African Swine Fever in the Philippines were given by Dr. Neil C. Tanquilut, Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, Pampanga State Agricultural University. “Geographic control measures need to be strictly implemented so the virus cannot be transmitted to unaffected farms”, Dr. Tanquilut said.

Dr. Rex Victor O. Cruz, former Chancellor and Professor, College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR-UPLB), said since these catastrophes are related to ecological deterioration, he noted the importance of evaluation of priorities in light of the disasters which are taking place.

During the discussion on the international environmental negotiations and diplomacy, Engr. Albert A. Magalang, Chief, Climate Change Division, Environmental Management Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources (EMB-DENR), said we must look at the cause and effect of global warming. “The DENR is focusing on the cause, we know where the emissions came from and we have to introduce measures to reduce emissions”, Engr. Magalang said.

Dr. Ben S. Malayang, Professor Emeritus, Silliman University and former dean, SESAM, stressed that our government must allocate more resources in securing our waters. “The biodiversity in our water is bigger than on land”, he said. Meanwhile, Dr. Delfin J. Ganapin, Jr., Leader, Governance Practice, World Wide Fund for Nature, relayed the importance in negotiations in the international level and pointed out that the conduits of scientific contributions are the think-tanks, as he urged the academe to play a bigger role on this. “I like the idea of SESAM to institute the environmental diplomacy course, especially issues right now cross boundaries” Dr. Ganapin stressed.

This symposium was supported by EMB-DENR, Geological Society of the Philippines, National Research Council of the Philippines, Forest Foundation Philippines, Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship and the UPLB-Information Technology Center. This was attended by more that 300 participants from the academe, private sector, government agencies, international organizations and local government units.