SESAM invites Japanese scientists to discuss flood disasters

We are inviting everyone on the upcoming online lecture on international policies of Japan titled “𝐅𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐝𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐒𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐂𝐥𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞” on 𝟎𝟕 𝐅𝐞𝐛𝐫𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟑, 𝟏:𝟎𝟎-𝟐:𝟑𝟎 𝐏𝐌 (𝐏𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐞), 𝐯𝐢𝐚 𝐙𝐨𝐨𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐅𝐁 𝐋𝐢𝐯𝐞.

This event is co-organized by the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) of SESAM-UPLB, UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) of UNESCO Public Works Research Institute (PWRI).

Two-part Policy Brief on Land Tenure is now out!

SESAM just launched the UPLB-SPBS 2-2022 (Part 1) and UPLB-SPBS 3-2022 (Part 2): 𝐀 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐒𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜 𝐋𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐓𝐞𝐧𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐒𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐦 𝐢𝐧 𝐅𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐋𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐛𝐲 𝐃𝐫. 𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐨 𝐏. 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐀𝐕𝐀𝐈𝐋𝐀𝐁𝐋𝐄!

“It is now time to renew the push for the adoption of the Land and Environmental Resources Management Agreement (LERMA) for a more unified, rationalized, scientific and ecosystems-based approach in land tenure in public forest lands in the country.”

“This proposed policy on tenure management system takes into account the more modern principles in the scientific management of forest and land resources. Furthermore, it adheres to the to the principles specified in the ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure (VGGT) of Lands, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security’.”

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Project LIGTAS to be featured in the first SESAM SRIS

The School of Environmental Science and Management will be launching a new webinar series entitled “SESAM-UPLB-Research Impact Series” (SRIS) on January 31, 2023. This webinar series aims to disseminate SESAM’s research thrusts. Project LIGTAS, under the leadership of Dr. Decibel V. Faustino-Eslava, will be the first project to be featured in the webinar series. This webinar is free and everyone is invited.

50% increase in the demand for food, water and energy in 2030 looms

With increasing population, the demand for human essential needs will double in less than 10 years. This challenge was presented by Dr. Jiaguo Qi, during the SESAM ExChanges, a seminar series on environmental challenges and solutions, last December 7, 2022 via Zoom and Facebook Live. SESAM ExCHanges is organized by the Continuing Education and Training Division of the School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños. 

Dr. Qi, a professor of geography at the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations and the Department of Geography, Michigan State University, USA has research interests on integrating biophysical and social processes and methods in understanding land use and land cover change and transforming data into information and knowledge.

During the opening program, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dean of SESAM, expressed his gratitude to Dr. Qi for sharing his time and knowledge to Filipinos. “Our discussion with Dr. Qi today puts a focus on the nexus concept linking water, energy and food interactions particularly in the most interesting region in the world- the Mekong River” Dr. Ancog said. 

Dean Ancog also took the opportunity in his opening message to introduce the latest issues of the UPLB-SESAM Policy Brief Series (SPBS). The two new issues of the SPBS are entitled “A Unified and Scientific Land Tenure System in Forest Lands (Part 1 and 2), both authored by Dr. Antonio P. Contreras, SESAM Professor.

Based on his presentation entitled “Sustainability Considerations in Complex Human and Natural Systems Interactions”, Dr. Qi pointed out that there will be a 50% increase in the demand of food, water and energy by 2030. “Food, water and energy are interwoven and not connected simply because they need each other, because if you change any of one of them, others are going to change”, Dr. Qi stressed.

Dr. Qi, who is also the Co-Director of the Office of China Programs at MSU and a Project Scientist for NASA’s MAIRS (Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Studies) program, cited that an increase in the number of extreme event in a region could cause in spike in food prices. ”If there’s a change in the water system, particularly the precipitation, it could affect the food and its affordability, Dr. Qi added.

The most glaring example is the Lower Mekong region, as Dr. Qi mentioned, it represents a complex food, energy and water system. “Rural livelihoods in the Mekong are increasingly facing food, energy and water challenges resulting from climate change and disruptive water resources of hydropower competition”, Dr. Qi explained.

For. Sofia Alaira, head of CETD, thanked all who participated in the SESAM ExChanges webinar series this year, including those who attended in this last webinar for 2022. More than 130 participants joined via Zoom and Facebook to watch the lecture of Dr. Qi, live from East Lansing, Michigan, USA. CETD will soon post the schedule of future SESAM ExChanges Seminar for 2023 on SESAM’s website and Facebook page.

COP 27 was the most successful for climate justice- Atty. La Viña

This was the best description of Atty. Antonio Gabriel M. La Viña, an environmental policy expert from Ateneo de Manila University, during the seventh seminar series of SESAM ExChanges last December 2, 2022 via Zoom and Facebook Live. 

SESAM ExChanges is a seminar series on environmental challenges and solutions. This is initiated by the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) of the School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB). More than 100 participants attended this virtual seminar.

Atty. La Viña, who is one of the attendees of the Conference of Parties (COP) 27. The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, more commonly referred to as COP 27, was the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference, held from 6 November until 20 November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. COP 27 aims to build on previous successes and paving the way for future ambition to effectively tackle the global challenge of climate change.

“There is a need to highlight what is our collective understanding on climate change and what exactly our next steps to translate it to concrete actions” said  Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dean of SESAM, during the opening program of SESAM ExChanges. For her part, For. Sofia A. Alaira, Head of CETD-SESAM, said that SESAM is fortunate to have a well-known environmental expert and advocate in Attorney La Viña, to talk on the aftermath of COP 27.

In his lecture entitled “COP 27: What’s in it for the Philippines”, Atty. La Viña said that COP 27 was the most successful because they were able to establish after 30 years a loss and damage funding arrangement. “It’s a done deal, way beyond expectations of anyone that was following this before going to COP”, said Atty. La Viña. 

Currently the Associate Director for Climate Policy and International Relations of the Manila Observatory,  Atty. La Viña mentioned that ironically COP 27 was also one of the most successful ever for fossil-fuel producing countries and companies. “We cannot make progress in reduction in emissions while the Ukraine-Russia war is going on, and there is an energy crisis in the world, it’s just too sensitive an issue, no matter how hard you push, you will not be able to have a lot of traction. However, they were able to have a traction for climate justice, and overall it was a good COP,” Atty. La Viña stressed.

In his synthesis and closing remarks, Dr. Antonio P. Contreras, Professor, SESAM admired the wealth of experience of Atty. La Viña since attending COP 1. He said that indeed the COP 27 was a milestone because of the establishment of the loss and damage agreement, but he also pointed out the importance of surviving the challenges ahead as well as the importance of fine-tuning needed to properly implement this in the future.

CETD-SESAM Conducts Second Batch of EIA Training

The School of Environmental Science and Management through its Continuing Education and Training Division (SESAM-CETD) conducted the another batch of short online course on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for 2022 last October 24 to 28, 2022 via Zoom.

This second batch for 2022 is a testament that EIA training is in demand and very relevant to the professions of various practitioners. This EIA course aims to provide the participants with knowledge about the technical aspects and administrative procedures of the Philippine EIS System; discuss the key elements of the current EIA procedures and processes, including the existing laws and policies relevant to the conduct of EIA impart knowledge on how to identify and predict the impacts of proposed development projects and programs relevant to the fields of specialization of the participants; strengthen the technical capabilities of the participants in environmental management, especially in environmental compliance and monitoring; enhance the participants’ skills and knowledge on how to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA); and provide a better appreciation of the application of science in the methods of EIA preparation.

In the opening program, SESAM Dean, Dr. Rico C. Ancog said SESAM is aware of the need to strengthen the way we proceed with our development work, in any effort from the national government down to the LGUs. “We understand that we have to balance environment and development and make sure that the economic dimension and the environmental considerations will have a voice with the way we proceed in decision making”, Dr. Ancog added.

With Dr. Ancog leading the way as he lectured on resource economics assessment, majority of the speakers came from SESAM. Among them were Dr. Decibel F. Eslava (biophysical assessment: geology, soil, and land use); Dr. Alma Lorelei D. Abejero (EIA in the context of sustainable development and air and climate); Dr. Loucel E. Cui (water quality and aquatic biodiversity assessment); Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez (water quantity); Dr. Badi R. Samaniego (marine  ecosystem assessment); Dr. Evaristo Niño T. Cando III (social impact assessment and health impact assessment); Dr. Eduardo C. Calzeta (climate change); Dr. Marisa J. Sobremisana (environmental risk assessment); and retired professor and dean, Dr. Nicomedes D. Briones (EMP and EMoP).

Resource speakers were also invited from different units and agencies. Dr. Pastor Malabrigo of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR), UPLB was again invited to discuss terrestrial biodiversity. Experts were again invited from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB). They were Engr. Divina Camarao, Chief of EIA Section (introduction and overview of PEISS and EIA: EIA as a Planning, Management, and Regulatory Tool and Laws, Policies and Institutional Arrangements for EIA System) and For. Riza C. Arjona, Senior Environmental Management Specialist (categories of EIA and EIA process and decision-making). 

On the last day of the training, Dr. Hussein S. Lidasan of the School of Urban and Rural Planning (SURP), UP Diliman lectured on review of EIA quality and decision-making. Dr. Lidasan also provided the critique of the workshop outputs of the participants, as they were divided into three groups.

One of the participants, Ms. Debbie Ruth Yasay, who works with Greencorp Philippines, a private organization, was very appreciative of what she learned during the five-day training course. She also mentioned that she is eager to learn more– as she is now contemplating to take a PhD Environmental Science course at SESAM. 

This year’s second batch attracted 78 participants from the academe (30.7%), national government agencies (8%), government owned and controlled corporations (10.7%), local government units (6.7%), private institutions (24%) and non-government organizations (6.3%) and environmental practitioners (14.7%). 

UPLB-SESAM conducts Virtual ‘Kumustahan with SESAM Pillars’

The University of the Philippines Los Baños – School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB-SESAM) in partnership with the UPLB Environmental Science Society conducted its “Kumustahan with the SESAM Pillars”, last September 29, 2022. About 110 participants consisting of SESAM faculty and staff, students, and alumni attended this highly anticipated mini online reunion of SESAM Pillars held via zoom and Facebook Live Streaming. More than just reminiscing of the past, this “Kumustahan with the SESAM Pillars” also aims to connect the past with the present and the future of the School.  

Among the SESAM Pillars attended the event are Dr. Percy E. Sajise, Former Director and Professor (PESAM, 1977-1985); Dr. Enrique P. Pacardo, Former Director and Professor Emeritus (IESAM, 1985-1991); Dr. Nicomedes D. Briones, Former Director and Professor (IESAM,1991-1995); Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, Former Director/Dean and Professor (IESAM/SESAM, 1995-2001); Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon, Former Dean and Professor (SESAM, 2006-2012); Dr. Leonardo M. Florece, Former Dean and Professor (SESAM, 2012-2015); and Dr. Decibel V. Faustino-Eslava, Former Dean and Professor (SESAM, 2015-2021). 

In his welcome message, SESAM Dean, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, highlighted the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of SESAM as a School. He mentioned that this “Kumustahan with SESAM Pillars’, is the SESAM’s tribute to the pillars of the beloved School. With the theme, “From Strength to Strength: Sustainability and Accelerated Integrative Learning Innovations for the Next Generation”, or SAILING, Dr. Ancog mentioned that this is the fortunate time to look back into the journey of SESAM, to learn a number of lessons from the past and to reflect on the things that need to improve to be able to move forward better. 

“We have long sailed but we also need to reflect on how we can sail better,” said Dean. Ancog. “We want to make sure that our students will then appreciate the journey of our school and will be even more inspired by the stories to be shared by our pillars”, he added. 

Dr. Ancog shows gratitude and thanks to all the SESAM Pillars in making time to attend the event and share their journey to the young generation of environmental leaders in SESAM. 

SESAM pillars traced the School’s roots back to 1977 when it started as a Program on Environmental Science and Management (PESAM). According to Dr. Sajise, PESAM popularized a number of research methodologies in UPLB such as Rapid Rural Systems Appraisal, Assisted Natural Regeneration, and Environmental Impact Assessment. Each of the pillars shared their experiences on how SESAM evolved through time. 

Dr. Pacardo highlighted the start of the idea of interdisciplinarity that is currently evolving at that time. According to him, the idea of environmental science emerged due to the challenge in integrating different sciences into a single discipline. 

“It is a challenge. We are dealing with an ecosystem which is multifaceted. We lack a framework of a complex system”, said Dr. Pacardo. He also added that the idea of interdisciplinary approach to solve complex problems became the pillar for an intellectual atmosphere. 

Dr. Sajise said, “SESAM was born out of recognition of the need to find solutions to the complex environmental problems”. He also discussed that the complexity of these environmental problems came about because of the interactions between human and the environment and it became more complicated so the response was and has to be effective also. And this response generated the vision, the recognized need. And this vision was to create an institution in the academe which will respond to this need over a long term, spanning generations of the students, researchers, resource users, policy makers and the general educational sector. 

“Making this vision into reality was not easy”, said Dr. Sajise. 

Dr. Briones then recalled how he became part of the institution. He was recruited as a Research Assistant by Dr. Sajise until he became a faculty member and a Director in 1991. According to Dr. Briones, the 1980s is the momentous year for the development of sesam as an academic unit of UPLB and the 1990s is the period when IESAM was catapulted to become a school. He also mentioned that the Environmental Education Network of the Philippines (now Philippines Network of Educators on Environment or PNEE) was the idea of IESAM to gather other environmental science institutions in the country. Dr. Briones also mentioned that the EENP became the vehicle of SESAM to spread environmental science in the country with funding support from the Environment and Resource Management Project, a joint project between IESAM and Dalhousie University.  

Dr. Ben S. Malayang III was also recruited by Dr. Sajise. “I knew that SESAM was going to make a difference in the country. Then I joined sesam and I have not regretted it”, said Dr. Malayang.  He raised the challenge of being able to flex and be flexible with the mindset and mindscape to solve environmental issues that have been altered very significantly following the great acceleration of the changes created in our world. 

“Rather than thinking of isolates, we must create a mindset of being ecosystemic to be able to understand the situation more and especially ask the right questions first. But that mindset is to be within the context of a clear landscape of mind – the mindscape.”, Dr. Malayang explained. 

He also said that aside from focusing on the ecosystem which SESAM has been doing over the years, it is high time to focus into the mindscape of meta ecosystems where we begin to grapple issues of the very close interactions of geospheric, biospheric, and ethnospheric dynamics. 

Recruited also by Dr. Sajise, Dr. Espaldon reminisced about how she became part of SESAM and how she wanted to become part of SESAM all the way. She said that she entered the institution when SESAM was at the crossroads of challenges. 

“The essence of the university is learning so the center of the university are the learners and because we are also part of the national university – UP, we also have a mandate to become a research and graduate university and I think that one’s stick to my mind when I assumed the leadership”, said Dr. Espaldon. According to her, the crowning glory of SESAM is its extension and public service. And when it became a CHED Center of Development in Environmental Science, SESAM continues to confront emerging environmental challenges of the country and the region. 

Dr. Florece assumed the Deanship after Dr. Espaldon and he continued the work started by the previous Dean. With the growing number of students applying and enrolling in the SESAM’ s graduate program in his time, Dr. Florece recruited more Faculty and Researchers from different fields of science to SESAM. 

“Environmental science is so broad, but during my time, we were guided by our vision and mission. We need to start first by looking at what is happening around us because as time goes by, we face new environmental problems. It is like an ecological time bomb”, said Dr. Florece.  “SESAM is so small but our concern is so broad that we need collective efforts from different fields of social and hard science”, he added. 

And with the increasing number of students, Dr. Eslava who assumed the position after Dr. Florece worked to double the number of the faculty members. Addition of new people from different fields of expertise not only to lessen the load of mentoring the students but also to diversify the courses, to diversify the researchers and also the extension services of SESAM. 

“SESAM has had a very long and proud history like a fully grown tree, I was simply harvesting the fruits of the labors of those who came and worked before me”, said Dr. Eslava. In her time, SESAM elevated and became the CHED Center of Excellence in Environmental Science and with its mandate, SESAM expanded its expertise to support other State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and to provide improved offerings of environmental science in the nation. She mentioned the establishment of the Philippine Environmental Science Association or PESA through the leadership of Dr. Espaldon to support this mandate. 

The year 2020 hit the nation very hard. Starting with the eruption of Taal in January 2020 followed by the pandemic and stronger typhoons hitting the country, Dr. Eslava believed  that behind these problems and issues, there are opportunities for us in environmental science.

“We must always be on our toes and be at the forefront of looking into those problems, training the students to understand them and to contribute to addressing those issues”, Dr. Eslava added. 

After a fruitful conversation and exchanges with the SESAM Pillars, the winners of the SESAM Nationwide Digital Environmental Making Contest joined by Junior and Senior High School Students (Category 1) and College Students (Category 2) and the winners of the SESAM 25th Anniversary Essay Writing Contest participated by UPLB students were also announced. 

SESAM Alumna, Ms. Nyhria G. Rogel and UPLB Environmental Science Society President, Mr. John Raphael O. Artates served as the masters of ceremony in this half-day event. (RDAreglado)