Atty La Viña highlights importance of environmental education in climate change agenda of the Philippines

“We are not smart, that’s why we are losing in this game of tug of war with the changing climate.”

This is how Atty. Antonio GM. La Viña described how we are addressing climate issues in the modern times. “To win the game, and for us to unitedly pull the rope that holds our environment from the verge of falling, we must acknowledge the certainty of climate change. There is no doubt that climate change is occurring, and human activities are to be blamed for this shift brought on by rising temperatures. It is not God’s act when it rains excessively.” says Atty. La Viña. He further elaborated that “..human actions, such as pollution, the use of fossil fuels, the way agriculture, deforestation, and industrialization, all contribute to climate change. The extreme weather events that happened in the previous years, e.g., Yolanda, Reming, Ondoy, these are the consequences of human acts that could have been avoided 20 years ago if we had made tough decisions to limit emissions.”

The 13th PNEE International Conference and Scientific Meeting held last November 11-12, 2021, where Atty. La Viña was invited as one of the keynote speakers, happened simultaneously with the COP26 (Conference of the Parties) in Glasgow in Scotland. The United Nations has been convening global climate conferences for over three decades, bringing nearly every country together. According to the Paris Agreement in 2015 (COP21), nations must lay forth their plans every five years. This means that nations had to submit or amend their emission-reduction strategies, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2020. The summit in Glasgow (originally scheduled for 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic) is a vital point in the world’s campaign to preserve the goal of keeping global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees alive.

For the aspirations of the COP26 to be realized, Atty. La Viña presented integrated approaches such as nature-based solutions (Nbs), climate friendly agriculture, and climate resilient cities for the Philippines to consider. Additionally, cross-cutting principles such as mainstreaming human rights, integrity of ecosystems, and good governance must be highlighted. From the first COP in 1995 held in Geneva up to the COP 26 in Glasgow, the evolutionary science has become more and more important given that what is applicable back then may not be effective now. For us to realize the 1.5 degrees cap, Atty. La Viña presented priority focus on these areas: (a) accelerating transition to renewable energy, (b) stopping new coal plant including those already approved, (c) stopping financing of fossil fuel projects, (d) divestment from carbon intensive corporations, and (e) litigating climate justice. Addressing the issues on climate change means changing the current political landscape and system.

This is where environmental educators play a role. To teach students proper measures so they will not feel helpless to face big environmental problems. To be able for them to ask the right questions by respecting science, and by being flexible, adaptive, and imaginative. 

In the final part of Atty. La Viña’s keynote talk, he presented small ways that we can do individually to reduce carbon footprint:

  • Meat-free Mondays: having your meaty days from 7 per week to 3 or 4 will annually reduce carbon footprint by up to 1.5 tons
  • Short Tuesday: shorter showers, ditching baths, or reducing showering from 7 – 4 minutes will reduce carbon footprint by 100 kg of CO2
  • Warm Wednesdays: saving energy at home or turning temperature down by 1 degree Celsius and saving 10% of heating bills
  • Seasonal Thursdays: Eating seasonal foods since these have smaller carbon footprints because they are grown in natural conditions with few fertilizers
  • Fuel-free Fridays: choosing a more sustainable way to travel – walking, cycling, taking the bus, or carpooling

The two-day virtual conference was organized by the PNEE (formerly EENP) which aims to promote sustainable development through a strong and independent network of Philippine institutions. The UPLB-SESAM has taken the lead in the foundation of PNEE and has been serving as its permanent secretariat. At present, PNEE has 92 institutional members (state universities and colleges and non-government organizations) and 785 individual members (faculty, and researchers) throughout the Philippines (Rusty Placino).

Broad and Cavanagh raise the need of multidisciplinary approach in environmental education as a catalyst for social change in the Philippines

“In addition to being a natural resources superpower, the Philippines is also a social movement superpower. On any given environmental issue, the Philippines have a diversity of non-governmental organizations, local community groups, and coalitions. These organizations will be the key to success in order to achieve transformational change” – Dr. John Cavanagh

With the theme “Reshaping Environmental Education Towards Ecosystem Restoration in the New Normal”, the 13th PNEE International Conference became a platform to convene various ideas to address existing environmental issues. Dr. Robin Broad and Dr. John Cavanagh, authors of a landmark book “Plundering Paradise: The Struggle for the Environment in the Philippines”, joined the dialogue by presenting their insights and suggesting key action points to call for community action towards the resolution of various environmental issues. By presenting the case of El Salvador and the role of communities serving as medium to promote social change in the context of mining, Dr. Broad and Dr. Cavanagh presented four points on the role of environmental education to steer social change to address environmental issues.

First, social movements play a major role as the backbone in navigating actions on existing environmental advocacies. In the case of El Salvador, the active participation of communities steered the anti-mining movement, prompting the action towards its eventual banning. Next, Environmental Education is an important medium to redirect various sectors to act on urgent issues and call for participation. There is an urgent need to bridge the communication gap among various sectors to educate various individuals on the ground-level dynamics governing these environmental issues. To do this, multidisciplinary approaches are effective means to communicate the importance of various environmental initiatives. Thirdly, more positive messages based on values and basic rights should be delivered to audiences using various mediums to encourage action. Although in the past, messages are being delivered in the context of the adverse damage of actions, it is also important to highlight positive messages to reflect the lasting values of actions and its implication to individual human rights. Lastly, educating and building alliances among likely and unlikely stakeholders is necessary to echo the call towards social action. Unlikely allies can be found among small businesses and non-government organizations. Rallying behind anti-mining advocacies, the Church became an unlikely ally in the case of El Salvador primarily due to the academic background.

With these major points presented, Dr. Enrique Pacardo, Professor Emeritus of SESAM, along with Dr. Decibel Eslava, SESAM’s very own renowned geologist, joined the dialogue. Dr. Pacardo emphasized that the landscape in El Salvador as discussed by Dr. Broad and Dr. Cavanagh may be different in the case of the Philippines which is an archipelagic country. Still in the context of mining, Dr. Eslava expounds on this by describing how it is important to seek the balance between achieving the growth of local economies reliant on the mining industry and policing measures to facilitate industries to go beyond mere compliance. In the case of the Philippines, it is important to be vigilant and at the same time open for opportunities to facilitate the economic development of communities relying in the mining sector. 

Further, a consensus was achieved in the context of providing ground level information to appropriately account for the long term costs and benefits associated with various interventions including mining. In conclusion, Dr. Robin Broad and Dr. Cavanagh urged the participants to seek means to borrow insights from educators and environmentalists around the world in order to address existing environmental dilemmas. With our existing natural resources at stake, it is also important to appropriately address these concerns with ground level information as the cutting edge weapon to steer various social movements.The two-day virtual conference was organized by the PNEE (formerly EENP) which aims to promote sustainable development through a strong and independent network of Philippine institutions. The UPLB-SESAM has taken the lead in the foundation of PNEE and has been serving as its permanent secretariat. At present, PNEE has 92 institutional members (state universities and colleges and non-government organizations) and 785 individual members (faculty, and researchers) throughout the Philippines (Stellah Grace Aclan and Clarissa Lontoc).

SESAM ExChanges tackles Land and Water in EIA

The School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines (SESAM-UPLB) held its second ExChanges Webinar in November 29, 2021 via online conferencing. With the theme “Land and Water in Relation to Environmental Impact Assessment”, the second ExChanges was organized by the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD).

In his opening message, Dr. Ancog, SESAM Dean, emphasized the application of different frameworks of analysis to assess the different environmental components (Land, Air, Water, and People) that the field of environmental science is championing. He also stressed the importance of impact assessment to comprehensively evaluate the various environmental and social impacts arising from development projects.

For. Sofia A. Alaira, head of CETD, introduced the prominent and hard-working members of the division, including their annual and future programs and trainings. She also highlighted the significant contribution of CETD in terms of capacitating the different stakeholders, especially the Local Government Units (LGUs) in formulating their Local Development Plans such as Environmental Code, Forest Land Use Plan and Climate and Disaster Risks Assessment).

The first lecture from Assistant Secretary Roderick M. Planta of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) discussed about Revisiting the National Water Security Roadmap. He mentioned the UN definition of “water security”, as the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining economic development, quality of life, and ecosystems conservation. His presentation was also focused on the formulation of the Natural Water Security Roadmap based on 6 thematic areas namely, economic (water supply), environment (water supply), domestic (water supply), municipal water (water supply), resilience, and governance. Based on these considerations, NEDA identified the threats to water security in the Philippines brought by increasing population, economic growth, and climate crisis as well as the multi-stakeholder initiatives that enhances our water security in the Philippines.

Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Professor at UPLB-SESAM, introduced the mandate and structure of UPLB-Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water as well as their VMGOs and working framework for attaining water security in the entire country. Dr. Sanchez’s presentation was focused mainly on the concept and principles of the integrated water resources management (IWRM). She discussed the importance of integrating the IWRM Framework in managing our ecological systems from ridge to reef. Dr. Sanchez also presented solutions and recommendations for the formulation of the Philippine Water Security Road Map. These are hastening water-related infra development, long-term watershed monitoring, and strategic planning for water resources management.

Dr. Myra Villareal, Associate Professor in the University of Tsukuba discussed the University’s SUSTEP Program, focusing on Water and disaster, Biodiversity conservation, waste management, and policy planning. Her lecture focused on the utilization of functional bioresources in North Africa and the Maghreb region which included several countries such as Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. She discussed the region’s topography and climatic conditions including the environmental stress and adaptation mechanisms perceived by various flora species due to lack/unavailability of water, high temperature, and ion concentration. Dr. Villareal also highlighted that, plants in arid regions adapt by producing antioxidants which can be a potential therapeutic for oxidative-stress-associated diseases such as cancer, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation among others.

More than 100 participants via Zoom and Facebook livestream attended the event. SESAM ExChanges is a seminar series on Environmental Challenges and Solutions. (ENTCando and TPLawas)

Los Baños MENRO Visits UPLB-SESAM for Development Plans and Extension Works Collaboration

The Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office of Los Baños, represented by Ms. Lizette Cardenas and Dr. Antonio J. Alcantara, Former SESAM Dean and Professor, visited the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB-SESAM) on 16 November 2021 to meet Dean Rico C. Ancog and the Research and Extension Division representatives and Professors, Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez and Dr. Jessica D. Villanueva-Peyraube, and Continuing Education and Training Division Head, For. Sofia A. Alaira.

Technical assistance to development plans and training activities for the municipality are some of the possible undertakings between SESAM and LGU. In this meeting, they discussed the areas of collaboration and the specific roles of SESAM in crafting and/or updating the environmental plans and programs of the Municipality. 

Included in these endeavors are identification of potential Water Quality Management Areas (WQMAs) for Makiling Watershed through membership in committee and action planning; assistance in technical writing of Enhanced Local Climate Change Action Plan (e-LCCAP) for 2021-2022; finalization of Solid Waste Management Plan (SWPM); assistance to Waste Analysis Characterization Study (WAQS); and finalization of Environmental Code (e-Code). 

Highlighted also in the meeting is the drafting of ordinance to institutionalize MENRO, which is the core foundation in ensuring proper management and implementation of ecosystem and environmental plans and programs in Los Baños. 
These undertakings are targeted to be implemented in the 1st up to 3rd quarter of 2022. Banking on the SESAM Sails (Sustainability and Accelerated Innovation in Learning and Solutions) vision of Dean Rico Ancog and in accordance with future-proofing UPLB, the School is hopeful to extend help in the municipality of Los Baños towards environmental sustainability and nation-building through partnership and collaboration.  (Jessa O. Aquino)

HyDEPP-SATREPS holds the 1st Joint Coordination Committee Meeting

The UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water project entitled Development of a Hybrid Water-Related Disaster Risk Assessment Technology for Sustainable Local Economic Development Policy under Climate Change in the Philippines (HyDEPP-SATREPS) held its 1st Joint Coordinating Committee Meeting on 17 November 2021 via online conferencing.

This event served as an avenue to review and present the project progress. Part also of the meeting was the discussion of challenges encountered by the parties and upcoming plans. This meeting was attended by 54 participants coming from several agencies and offices, composed of JCC members from the project management team, sub-group leaders, and cooperating agencies. The project group members also attended and served as observers during the meeting. Present from the project management team were Dr. Toshio Koike, Executive Director and Mr. Hiroyuki Ito, Deputy Director. 

Ms. Ohshima Ayumu, Senior Representative of JICA Philippines officially opened the program wherein she highlighted the need for structural and non-structural measures in response to climate change implications. She assured that JICA will continue to support disaster risk reduction in the country. 

The highlight of the meeting was the presentation of sub-group accomplishments and future plans. Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., Project Director from the Philippines, provided the overview and summary of the project outputs. He mentioned that setting directions for the remaining years is the main reason for the meeting.

The project comprises 4 sub-groups or components namely: data collection and sharing, flood and drought risk assessment, resilience assessment, and economic scenario and policy recommendations. For their part, Dr. Roger A. Luyun, Jr. and Dr. Masaki Yasikawa presented the research plans on data collection, data management system through Data Integration and Analysis System (DIAS), data processing, and flood early warning system. Updates on the server room located in UPLB Knowledge Hub were also mentioned. 

Dr. Aurelio Delos Reyes, Jr. and Dr. Mohamed Ramsy Adbul Wahid, sub-group 2 leaders, presented the newly added members of their group. They presented the outputs in simulation of the inundation area during Typhoon Ulysses and some technical aspects of their study.

For resilience assessment, Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez and Dr. Miho Ohara highlighted their efforts through interviews, and analysis of resilience data in affected areas of  Typhoon Ulysses. The end-to-end framework approach in relation to resilience was also emphasized. Dr. Ohara presented lake studies as the newly added component of their group and some in-house training being conducted in Japan, which is also planned to be conducted in the Philippines. 

Economic scenarios and governance components were discussed by Dr. Ma. Angeles O. Catelo, Dr. Agnes C. Rola, and Dr. Muneta Yokamatsu. They also presented the highlights of their survey efforts for the Typhoon Ulysses which include flood prevalence and intensity and agricultural and social damages. Part of the presentation is the need for initial institutional analysis-local governance of plans, programs, ordinance and concerns related to disaster risk reduction and management in the city/municipality. Lastly, they discussed the technical results of test rubs of Monte-Carlo simulations and the methodological framework of their study. 

The cooperating agencies, namely Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA), JICA Philippines, and Japan Science and Technology (JST), actively participated during the open forum. 

The project team is hopeful that all the projects plans and efforts will be materialized and collaboration in research activities will be fostered. 

SARAi e.skwela brought info-caravan to Bicol Region

Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines (Project SARAi), in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office V and the Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) in the Provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Norte, conducted a series of two-day, face-to-face training entitled “Provincial Training of Agriculturists on Selected SARAi-Developed Technologies in the Bicol Region”. The series of trainings were conducted in the provinces of Albay (November 22-23, 2021), Camarines Sur (November 24-25, 2021), and Camarines Norte (December 2-3, 2021). 

The project teams of SARAi from University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and Bicol University (BU) joined forces to facilitate this information caravan on rice pests and diseases, proper nutrient management, use of the Smarter Pest Identification Technology (SPIDTECH) mobile application for Android, as well as soil testing & soil sampling techniques. 

The Province of Albay was the first stop for this series of trainings were agriculturists and agricultural technicians from different municipalities of Albay attended the training held on November 22 at Bicol Food Delights, Barriada, Legazpi City. PSTC Albay Director, Engr. Jacinto Alexis B. Elegado, who is also the head of this activity, welcomed the participants from Albay. Ms. Rosemarie Laila D. Areglado, UPLB-SESAM researcher and SARAi Project Staff introduced Project SARAi and gave an overview of the two-day event. Mr. Carl Vincent Gapasin, a former researcher for the Integrated Pest and Diseases Advisory System component of SARAi, served as one of the physically present experts for the lecture on rice diseases and SPIDTECH. On the other hand, virtually present experts in the training via Zoom were Ms. Kim Nyka Perdiguerra, researcher at the UPLB College of Agriculture and Food Science (CAFS), gave lectures on rice nutrient management; Ms. Joana Rose Vergara, Ms. Joy Eloiza Rosales, and Ms. Michelle Ann Bunquin (also from UPLB-CAFS) presented soil management techniques and supervised the hands-on training on the use of soil test kits. As an additional information, Ms. Karen Conda from the SARAi-BU gave a lecture on the use of automatic weather stations (AWS) and its applications in smart agriculture.

On the following day, November 23, the participants headed to a rice field in Rawis, Legazpi to identify specific pests or diseases present in the field using SPIDTECH. Afterwards, the trainees headed to Brgy. Estancia in Malinao, Albay to conduct soil sampling in an agricultural field site.

Using the same blended learning set-up in Albay, the training series carried over on November 25 with the participation of agriculturists from various municipalities of Camarines Sur. The training was held at Naga Pilgrims Hotel, Magsaysay, Naga City for the lectures. Also present in the training was the team from PSTC Camarines Sur headed by Director Patrocinio N. FelizmeniOn November 26, the participants also conducted a field visit to a rice farm area in Minalabac, Camarines Sur to test the capabilities of the SPIDTECH mobile app and conduct soil sampling.

The last leg of the provincial training, scheduled on December 2 and 3, is catered for agriculturists in Camarines Norte. This training is also patterned from the completed sessions in Albay and Camarines Sur. For this session, Ms. Marilou Belgado, a representative from PSTC Camarines Norte welcomed the participants.DOST Region V Regional Director, Mr. Rommel R. Serrano graced these series of activities and welcomed the guests and participants. RD Serrano emphasized his hope that the technologies presented will be utilized by the participants to help our agricultural sector. Also present and facilitated these events are representatives from PSTC Albay, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte. (Klarenz A. Hourani, Jose Mari C. Lit, Maria Regina V. Regalado, and Rosemarie Laila D. Areglado)

JESAM mentors IFSU in a journal writeshop series

The Journal of Environmental Science and Management (JESAM), a Clarivate Analytics Web of Science (WOS) and Elsevier-Scopus indexed journal of the University of the Philippines Los Baños School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) mentored more than 100 faculty and researchers of the Ifugao State University (IFSU) in November 22-24, 221 via Zoom.

Ms. Marah Joy A. Nanglegan, Director of Extension and Training of IFSU, invited the JESAM editorial staff to deliver lectures on scientific writing and journal management. Ms. Nanglegan said IFSU is pushing for the maiden issue of its IFSU Extension Journal soon, and they are currently building up their capability in journal management. She hopes that soon their journal will also be indexed by the ASEAN Citation Index (ACI), WOS and Scopus.  

During the opening program, IFSU Vice President for Research, Development, Extension and Training, Dr. Dinah Corazon M. Liyayo said that IFSU faculty and staff must be motivated to do more research and eventually getting it published. For his part, Dr. Felino P. Lansigan, Editor-in-Chief of JESAM, enumerated the incentives and benefits of getting more publications, especially for those who are working the academe. “You can be granted international publication awards if you publish your work in indexed journals”, Dr, Lansigan said.

Among those presented lectures were Dean Rico C. Ancog, Managing Editor; Dr. Thaddeus P. Lawas, Production Editor; and JESAM Editorial Assistants, Dr. Loucel E. Cui, Dr. Alma Lorelei D. Abejero, Ms. Cherry S. Padilla and Ms. Catherine B. Gigantone. Dr. Lawas presented an  overview of scientific writing, delivered different publication tips and discussed about how to apply for indexing in Clarivate analytics. Meanwhile, Dean Ancog discussed about the importance of journals and the peer review process and writing the results and discussion, conclusions and recommendation. 

Dr. Cui explained how conduct similarity checking of articles and how to prepare the review of related literature and materials and methods. For her part, Dr. Abejero discussed writing the article outline and introduction, and publication ethics. Ms. Padilla talked about manuscript formatting, while Ms. Gigantone gave tips on databasing.

On the last day of the workshop, the participants used the journal canvass provided by JESAM to assemble their respective research notes, terminal reports or even thesis. Some participants who already have draft articles were able to improve the format and technical content, based on the advice and tips given by the JESAM editorial team. 

EcoHealth, zoonotic diseases, and environmental education discussed during a keynote of CIRAD’s Dr. Morand

One of the major highlights during the recently concluded 13th PNEE International Conference and Scientific Meeting held last 11-12 November 2021 was the keynote talk of Dr. Serge Morand, Director for Research of the French Scientific Research Council and CIRAD. 

An expert in ecology of disease transmission and its application in health ecology Dr. Morand works as a field parastilogist focusing on the epidemiology of zoonotic and other infectious diseases. 

In his talk, he elaborated the apparent acceleration of epidemics and disease which has been a concern due to increases in outbreaks of novel zoonotic and vector-borne diseases as well as diseases affecting livestock and poultry, and the increase in incidence of plant and animal fungal diseases. Taking the global and several cases in Southeast Asia, he elaborated on the ecology of diseases and its epidemiology in the new normal as well as in the present and future scenarios for the COVID-19 pandemic.

He further indicated that this increase in spread and emergence of diseases is connected with the increase in connectivity, efficiency and accessibility in global trade and travel. This shows that the increase in connectivity between territories has globalized epidemics and served as an avenue to facilitate the transmission and spread of diseases.

Furthermore, the increase in emergence of diseases, especially zoonotic diseases, has been observed to be linked with increase in urbanization with increased activities linked with human encroachment into wildlife territory for land conversion, and production of livestock and poultry. The close association of humans with animals, and the overlapping boundaries between their habitats have opened potential infection pathways for novel and re-emerging disease, Dr. Morand even showed studies in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic wherein animals in close association to humans have the potential to serve as reservoir host for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These findings are important in the epidemiological cycles of the pandemic especially in the virus’ survival in the environment.

All in all, globalization and increases in the rates of urbanization has facilitated a connection between disease emergence, epidemics, and human communities. It also caused a scaling effect due to: (1) increases in activities connected with urbanization and land conversion, (2) improved connectivity due to improvements in efficiency and accessibility in travel, (3) increase in trade activities and access to territories, and (4) and increase in the proximity of animals with human settlements due to increases in demand for livestock and poultry.

The talk of Dr. Morand is one of the three keynote talks in the two-day virtual conference organized by the PNEE with UPLB-SESAM as the host. It aims to promote sustainable development through a strong and independent network of Philippine institutions able to provide national and local government, non-government organizations, people organization, and local communities advice and expertise on environmental education policies and programs appropriate to the needs of local and regional conditions.
The UPLB-SESAM has taken the lead in the foundation of PNEE and has been serving as its permanent secretariat all these years.  At present, PNEE has 92 institutional members (state universities and colleges and non-government organizations) and 785 individual members (faculty, and researchers) throughout the Philippines.About 180 faculty members, researchers, government agencies employees and students attended the event via video conferencing (Gil Gabriel Villancio).

SESAM bags Best Paper Presentation in the INREM Conference 2021

The paper presentation titled “Waste Analysis and Characterization: A Planning Tool for Urban Waste Management in Butuan City, Philippines” by Dr. Evaristo Niño T. Cando III, En.P., Assistant Professor and Jessa O. Aquino, En.P., University Research Associate respectively of the School of Environmental Science and Management, was awarded the Best Paper Presentation on Rural-Urban Linkages Session, during the 3rd International Conference on Integrated Natural Resources Management (INREM 2021) with the theme “Advancing Ecosystems Restoration, Resilience and Sustainable Development Through INREM” last November 17-19, 2021 via online conferencing. 

This research is a component of the Waste Analysis and Characterization Study (WACS) funded by the Local Government of Butuan City and was implemented in partnership with the Caraga State University (CarSU) last 2019. This research tried to determine the per capita waste generation of the urban households and identified the types of wastes generated by the different sectors in a per capita basis. The baseline information was then utilized to propose strategic interventions and probably develop a working framework or model, for urban solid waste management.

In their presentation, Dr. Cando emphasized that the current trend of urbanization and waste generation in Butuan City provided opportunities for the development of an efficient and integrated approach resolving current and future waste management concerns. 

Other SESAM staff were co-authored by several graduate students’ presentation. The paper entitled “Microplastic Characterization and Concentration in Surface Waters of Lakes Samplacon and Yambo in San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines” by Ms. Fatima Natuel, Dr. Damasa Magcale-Macandog, Dr. Decibel Faustino-Eslava, Dr. Loucel Cui, and Dr. Stefan Hotes, won second place in 3MT Presentation category. 

More than 350 participants from state colleges and universities,  private higher education institutions, local and national government agencies,  attended the conference.  It was organized by the University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Forestry and Natural Resources through its Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management. In this event, ecosystem restoration, resilience-building, and sustainable development through INREM was shared among the attendees through its 6 sessions, namely: plenary session, paper presentations, LGU INREM Champions, competition for 3MT session, poster pitch, and undergraduate students’ session. Present also in the event are SESAM Professors, who served as moderators and judges: Dr. Hildie Maria Nacorda, Dr. Mark Dondi Arboleda, and Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez. (JOAquino)

UPLB-SESAM joins the Oceana and NAST in a national colloquium on the impacts of seabed quarrying and ore mining

The growing interest on how seabed quarrying could affect the coastal and marine habitats, and the nearby communities, their livelihood, and even our food security was the topic of a recently held online colloquium organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and Oceana Philippines last November 8, 2021. The event is related to the campaign to save and defend Manila Bay. 

For her opening message, Dr. Rhodora V. Azanza, Academician and President of NAST, mentioned that the science and technology community has a responsibility to provide science-based recommendations on policy and decision making to protect our coastal and marine biodiversity.

Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dean of the University of the Philippines-School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB-SESAM), elaborated on some concepts and cases related to the costs and benefits of seabed quarrying and offshore ore mining. Being a contentious issue, he elaborated on the role of an analysts to not just look into the physical impacts of the seabed quarrying but also in valuation of such impacts. 

Dr. Ancog defined seabed quarrying citing the PDENR A.A. 2000-2, which is “the process of extracting, removing and/or disposing quarry resources found in offshore areas”, while  offshore mining or the deep-sea mining as the, “process of extracting minerals and deposits submerged in the seafloor.” 

He added, defining and understanding the context is important to appreciate how such a process will proceed because the analysis of the cost and benefits may guide whether seabed mining is warranted, and how it can better proceed. 

Dr. Ancog highlighted that before proceeding to a certain project, it is crucial to examine the status of the existing ecosystem of the area. Manila Bay, as pointed out in his presentation, is very economically active and is densely populated. The place is also highly susceptible to flooding. Citing several studies, he highlighted a number of existing issues in Manila Bay such as the loss of seagrass habitat due to land conversion, sedimentation, overfishing, destructive fishing, and overexploitation of resources, among others.  

With these descriptions of the Manila Bay, Dr. Ancog discussed that the ability to identify and quantify the benefits and costs is crucial to the conduct of a comprehensive, and integrative assessment. He highlighted the three things that need to be considered when doing an economic analysis, and these are 1) The impacts (positive and negative); 2) Quantification of those impacts across the project life; and 3) Monetization of those impacts. 

“And we, as analysts, make recommendations based on the results of such analysis,” Dr. Ancog stressed. 

In consideration with the limitations on the existing data, the thriving industries and economic activities in Manila Bay registered positive direct and indirect values. “With these estimates of the current value of the existing coastal and marine resources, this points us to the  direction of what we will forego due to seabed mining” Dr.Ancog added. 

He also presented sample studies in the case of Cook Island Nodule Mining where the listing of the cost items (private cost and environmental and social cost) is notable. Another sample study he showed is the seabed mining in the Republic of Marshall Islands. 

Joining Dr. Ancog in this session was Dr. Fernando P. Siringan, an Academician from the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines Diliman. He discussed the sediment cover of Lingayen Gulf and Manila Bay and elaborated on a number of potential physical  impacts of seabed quarrying and ore mining. 

This online event also invited representatives from the DILG, PINSAMALA, Pangisda Pilipinas, and FARMC and continued the discussions on emerging issues from different perspectives to be able to understand what really is the effect of different activities on the ocean.