There is a need for expansive science to understand people-planet dynamics- Ben Malayang

A mini-reunion of SESAM pillars happened in the school during SESAM ExChanges Series 11 last February 29, 2024. Dr. Ben S. Malayang, former dean of the School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB), talked about “Environmental Security and Sustainability: Positioning Science as the Basis of Environmental Diplomacy and Negotiations” at the SESAM Board Room with former deans and current faculty and staff of the school. 

Former deans who were present include Dr. Enrique P. Pacardo, Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dr. Ma. Victoria O. Espaldon and Dr. Percy E. Sajise. Dr. Dennis Garrity, Chair of the Board of Global Evergreening Alliance was also in attendance.

On behalf of SESAM Dean, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dr. Espaldon, also former vice-chancellor for research and extension of UPLB, said in her opening message that SESAM ExChanges is an innovation of the school and it’s an honor to have Dr. Malayang to be invited in this seminar series. 

“We are happy to have our former colleague Dr. Ben Malayang here to share some of his thoughts in positioning science as the basis of environmental diplomacy and negotiations for the PhD EDN. Side-by-side with our curricular offering is the information dissemination from our professors and experts on the field”, Dr. Espaldon said.

Dr. Malayang, who is also a Professor Emeritus of Environmental Policy and Governance of Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental discussed the essence of environmental diplomacy in his presentation entitled “Human-ecological security and sustainability”.

A Senior Fellow and Member of the Academic Council of the Development Academy of the Philippines, Dr. Malayang started his presentation with an interesting discussion about Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy. “That high population density and profligate carbon culture create environmental problems, that is a fact. And the fiction is that environments could be solved entirely by technology. That’s fiction. And to say that with technology, we can have all we want from earth, that is fantasy”, said Dr. Malayang.

In connection with Environmental Diplomacy and Negotiations, Dr. Malayang discussed the need for expansive science. He pointed out that there is a need for expansive science– the science to understand the planet, science to understand people and the science to understand people-planet dynamics. 

“Scientist will always look at the immediate cost of the forest of being lost in the country. But the phenomenology of the forest loss in the country is a political ecology issue. The dynamics of creation of power, the distribution of power and the redistribution of power over time has impact on how people behave towards whether eroding or not eroding the environment”, Dr. Malayang stressed.

Dr. Malayang ended his presentation with a quote from Albert Einstein in Einstein and the Atomic Bomb (Netflix): “The fate of mankind hinges entirely on man’s moral development”. And here he raises a question to “to what extent are we pushing for environmental ethics and environmental morals?”.

SESAM ExChanges is an environmental challenges and solutions seminar series organized by the Continuing Education and Training Division of SESAM-UPLB. More than 350 participants joined via Zoom and Facebook Live, as well as the faculty and staff who attended on-site. (TPLawas and RLDAreglado)