Innovations in the urban and rural areas undergoing climate change adaptation tackled in “SESAM ExChanges”

The fourth SESAM ExChanges Webinar Series featured “Living in Urban and Rural Areas in the Face of Climate Change”, as the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) of the School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB) invited two experts conducting studies in climate change and disaster risk reduction and management.

Environmental Planner Jose Bernardo B. Gochoco III, Project Officer, Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction & Management, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)-Local Governments for Sustainability Southeast Asia Secretariat, talked about climate change adaptation among cities in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, Dr. Athur Mabiso, Senior Technical Specialist, Research and Impact Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) discussed climate change adaptation among rural communities in Asia and Africa. 

EnP. Gochoco III, introduced ICLEI– which is a is a global network of more than 2,500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in more 125 countries, ICLEI influenced sustainability policy and drive local action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development.

In the overview of climate change impacts in Southeast Asia, EnP. Gochoco III said that cities and their surrounding regions are on the frontlines of global change. They are confronted by the impacts of rapid urbanization, demographic change, climate change, and technological advancements, among others. “As cities rise, grow and change, poverty and inequity remain, and natural systems degrade”, EnP. Gochoco III stressed. 

“In this urban era, cities are centers of opportunity and prosperity. We need to harness this energy to reorient and rebalance the patterns of daily life, the built environment, and the natural systems in and around cities across the world”, EnP. Gochoco III, added.

For his part, Dr. Mabiso, who has an extensive research experience the areas of agricultural policy, rural investments, food security, health and nutrition, enumerated projects in rural areas of IFAD implemented in several countries, such as in the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Mauritania, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya. 

In comparing the situation of the Philippines with other countries in Asia such as India and Vietnam, which has more hectarage and better irrigation, Dr. Mabiso said farmers in the Philippines, despite propagating high value crops, must consider off-farming activities or entering other sectors. “Some people must move out of agriculture and do other things that may support agriculture or not directly agriculture… and that is climate change adaptation” he said. Further, Dr. Mabiso mentioned there is also a need for the promotion of indirect activities that can support farming, such as how to bring products to the market or food processing. 

Dr. Mabiso also said that we can embrace any technology and innovation that could help farmers increase yield in their production, however, we must also consider the risk and any challenges of any technology to help communities to thrive. He added that data analysis and evidence is critical and must always be the basis if the technology or innovation will work. ‘Technology is technology, it is there to help us to improve our lives and welfare”, he stressed. 

SESAM ExChanges is an environmental challenges and solutions seminar series organized by CETD-SESAM. This fourth installment was held via Zoom and Facebook Live Streaming on April 28, 2022, with more than 200 participants from here and around the globe.

Environmental concerns score prominently in the Los Baños mayoralty candidates’ forum

Solid waste management was identified as among the major environmental concerns in the Municipality of Los Baños during the recent interviews with three mayoralty candidates. This concern was aired during the UPLB sa Halalan 2022- The Los Baños Mayoral Candidates Leadership Forum, co-presented by the College of Human Ecology (CHE) and the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) on April 21, 2022. More than 100 attended the forum via Zoom and Facebook Live.

Three candidates attended, namely Mr. Feliciano Aloba Escobin, Engr. Joel Mendoza Lapis and the incumbent, Mayor Antonio Laluces Kalaw. The other candidates were also invited, unfortunately, conflict of schedule prevented them to attend the forum.

Engr. Lapis, son of the former Mayor Frank Lapis, said there is a need to properly use the material recovery facilities of the barangays in the municipality. He added that composting facilities must be installed per barangay. “Lets tap experts from UPLB in solid waste management”, he stressed.

Mayor Kalaw said that segregation should start at home. “Lets consult with the university on how can we help each other in the right system of solid waste management”, he said. Mayor Kalaw also mentioned the establishment of transfer station for easier carrying of garbage and lessen the risk posed to the collectors.

“We should help each other for segregation”, Mr. Escobin said. He added that segregation must be implemented first within the household, and he plan to issue color-coded garbage bags, to identify the different types of segregated household wastes and this will be strictly implemented. 

On preservation of Mt. Makiling

“Mt. Makiling is protecting us from calamities and we are continuously coordinating with UPLB in protecting it”, Mayor Kalaw said. “We should not allow cutting trees and reduce the illegal settlers and we should give them assistance, such as housing projects”, he added.

“I live here in the foot of Mt. Makiling, to preserve this, I will fight for the conservation of Mt. Makiling and we should not allow illegal settlers there in respect to our forest”, Mr. Escobin stressed. He added that in order to preserve Mt. Makiling, we should follow the law.

Mr. Lapis said that we borrowed Mt. Makiling from our future generation. “Let’s invite peoples organizations, the experts and other government agencies to help us to take care of this and the environment”, he added. Engr. Lapis also mentioned that tourism in Mt. Makiling can help in creating our job opportunities for Los Baños citizens. 

Plans for the municipality

Mr. Escobin said he will respect the vote of the people. “Even if I will lose in this election, I will continue to support the winning candidate and possibly offer some solutions in the town’s problems in environment, such as global warming, in traffic, scholarship and public safety” he added.

“As an engineer, my expertise can definitely be utilized… we are ready to help and offer our plans and respect the vote of our people”, Engr. Lapis mentioned. Engr. Lapis is also an advocate for the use of renewable energy as he is involved in solar power farm projects. He reiterated that his father, former Mayor Lapis, initiated the branding of Los Baños as “Science and Nature City” in 2000.

For his part, Mayor Kalaw said he has a lot more to offer and very willing to cooperate with the university so that the environment of Los Baños will be protected. “In this opportunity, I will pursue for our constituents of this town to construct a public hospital, housing project for those living in danger zones and illegal settlers”, Mayor Kalaw said.

CCC, SESAM and IdSC Water to strengthen ties to combat climate change

The UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center (IdSC) for Water and the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) hosted Secretary and Commissioner Robert E.A. Borje of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) for a data sharing and partnership meeting last April 8, 2022. Present in the meeting were Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dean of SESAM, Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Chair of IdSC Water and Member of CCC National Panel of Technical Expert, Mr. Alexis D. Lapiz, CCC Strategic Partnership Division Chief, CCC Staff, and IdSC Water Researchers.

The CCC through the CCO, SESAM and IdSC Water signified to strengthen their institutional partnerships. An existing MOA will be revisited and reviewed to continue the collaborations in research and extension. Both parties recognize the importance of science-based policies and this will only come into fruition if the policy makers are well informed of the outputs of the scientific community. Similarly, the research outputs will only be beneficial to the community only if these transcends to the stakeholders. “We already know what to do to combat climate change and we need partners”, Sec. Borje stressed. He also posed a challenge to the participants on how to make important interesting and interesting urgent as we face issues on climate change.

Data acquisition and utilization

To give a background on how to utilize and analyze available climate datasets, a brief overview of the Data Integration and Analysis System (DIAS) was presented. DIAS, an online free-access database and archiving system funded under MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), is housed in JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) and a product of collaborative efforts from various universities and research institutions. These datasets can be localized and translated to useful information that may aide decision and policy makers.

The process and application involving the integration of climate change projections from global climate models under various emission scenarios to hydrologic facets (e.g., water supply and flood) was showcased using simulation results of Abacan Watershed in Angeles City, Pampanga. Understanding the effects of climate change in watershed’s water balance is useful for effective planning, design and management of water resources.

A study on solar radiation management (SRM), a geoengineering approach and a possible climate change mitigation strategy, was also presented. Currently, there is a global effort on localized research to determine the possible implications of SRM in some regions or countries. For the Philippines, the team aims to look into the implications of SRM to the agricultural productivity and physiology and the hydrological response of selected watersheds draining to Laguna and Lanao Lakes. (CBGigantone)

SESAM Building Administrator participates in Fire Safety Seminar

In recognition of Fire Prevention Month, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs conducted a Seminar on Legal Aspect of Fire Safety and Disaster Resilience last March 18, 2022. This seminar is also as part of the future proofing vision of Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., Chancellor, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

Mr. Henry E. Ramos, Building Administrator of School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), represented the school at the said event.

In his welcome remarks, Atty. Aladin P. Dominguita, OIC of the Safety and Security  Office (SSO-UPLB), said there is a need toequip us with the knowledge in regards to disaster response. “There is a Legal aspect ‘to act or not to related to the responsibility during times of crisis or emergency”, Atty. Dominguita added.

Atty. Kristoffer James E. Purisima, Former Assistant secretary of the Office of Civil Defense said that the Philippines encounters 20 tropical cyclones yearly and with Climate Change, these hazards leads us to disasters that cost us billions. “Risk becomes a Disaster if our resources could not cope up or unable to respond to a Hazard”, Atty. Purisima stressed. He further discussed the disaster risk formula which determines how we react to a certain crisis or hazard that could lead to disaster. He said that we all know hazards will always be there, and for us to respond less in a crisis/emergency, we should build back better.

Jonathan D. Maliwat, Special Police Assistant Chief of the SSO-UPLB, discussed the creation of the Crisis Management Committee (PDLC 21-07 Administrative Order), which is anchored on the E.O. No. 82 s. 2012 sec 2. He also mentioned that the institutionalization of the SSO was approved on October 29, 2020 during the 1355th meeting of the UP Board of Regents. Also during the seminar, the Los Baños Municipal Fire Marshall, F/SINSP Fernando C. Castillo, discussed about R.A. 9514 or the Fire Code of the Philippines.

About 60 participants from different units of the university, as well as the University Police Force and the Community Support Brigade members attended the seminar. (Henry E. Ramos) 

UPLB IdSC for Water holds workshop for Angat Dam Non-Technical Working Group 

The UPLB IdSC Water project on “Review and Revision of Dam Operation Protocol in Angat Watershed, Bulacan, Philippines” conducted a virtual Focus Group DIscussion (FGD) on March 11, 2022 with agencies and stakeholders outside the Inter-agency Technical Working Group (TWG) of Angat Dam. 

Present on the FGD wee representatives from the Water Districts of Norzagray and City of San Jose del Monte, Provincial Engineering Office (PEO) of Bulacan and Pampanga, Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) of Bulacan and Pampanga, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM Corp.), Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) of Bulacan and Pampanga, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) of Bulacan, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region III, Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, Inc., and research institutions, (University of the Philippines Diliman and Los Baños). Representatives from the project’s funding agency National Water Resources Board (NWRB) were also present and serve as observers during the workshop.

The event was carried out to contribute to the development of an effective communication plan in response to possible updates to the Angat Multipurpose Dam’s operation protocol. Assessing the existing communication system using the van Ruler’s Communication Strategy Framework includes the evaluation of the internal and external situations of Angat Dam TWG. The workshop aims to identify and discuss the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of different factors like policy, economic, social, technology, environmental, and legal (PESTLE) of Angat Dam TWG from the external perspective. 

Prior to this, a similar FGD with inter-agency TWG of Angat Dam was conducted last November 15, 2022 focusing on questions on communication mainstreaming within TWG. 

Angat dam’s operation rule was last updated in 2009 through Resolution No. 003-1209. One of the identified challenges in updating the Angat Dam Protocol is the inadequate and ineffective communication strategy. (Allan T. Tejada, Jr.)

SESAM learns to tell stories through news writing webinar

The Continuing Education and Training Division of the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) held an In-house Training on Clear and Effective Writing for Straight News and Feature Articles on 3 March 2022. About 33 faculty members, researchers, and students participated in the online event. This in-house training aimed to capacitate SESAM Staff and students on how to conceptualize and produce news and feature articles for upload to UPLB and SESAM website.

The School invited Assistant Professor Aletheia C. Araneta, Chair of the Department of Development Journalism, College of Development Communication (DDJ-CDC). Prof. Araneta has been teaching at the CDC since 2008. She usually handles courses on participatory journalism, science journalism, knowledge management, and multimedia planning and production. 

SESAM Dean, Dr. Rico C. Ancog graced the event and in his opening remarks, he emphasized “Our work [at SESAM] is rich with stories. And when we tell stories, there is science and art.” He hoped that this initiative can bring learnings to each, and everyone present in the event and use these learnings to tell stories that would lead SESAM for more partnerships and engagements that would be more beneficial to the School.

“Stories have meaning”,  according to Prof. Araneta. She did not only discuss the 5Ws (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) and the 1H (How) in news writing, but she also provided tips and techniques in writing such as how to choose the right story angle. Her lecture was divided into two parts: Basics of News Writing and Basics of Feature Writing. She also presented examples of different types of lead and ending for feature stories.

As Prof. Canubas stressed at the end of her presentation, “creative process needs collaboration” and to be a journalist, you need to be “transparent and honest”.

This two-hour session brought insights and exchanges on how to better understand concepts in news writing and how it will help SESAM to communicate its research results to the media and to the public.

In her closing message, For. Sofia A. Alaira, Head of SESAM-CETD, expressed her gratitude to Prof. Canubas. She also acknowledged the challenges in writing for news but also highlighted that “practice makes perfect”. The organizers also thanked everyone in participating and challenged the participants to write a straight news article from this event.

UPLB-SESAM conducts online orientation for its new graduate students

Tuesday, 8 February, marks the first day of second semester, A.Y. 2021-2022 for the students at the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB). To ensure a smooth start of their graduate life, new students have been invited to an online orientation program to get an overall perspective on graduate studies. The online orientation for the new graduate students was held on 28 February 2022, at the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM).

The kick-starter orientation began with an Audio-Visual Presentation introducing SESAM and a welcome message from the Dean, Dr. Rico C. Ancog. In his welcome remarks, Dr. Ancog emphasized SESAM as a learning organization. “We learn at every step of the process”, he added. 

Dr. Ancog also called upon the students to align their research to the values of SESAM towards transdisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity. He also discussed the SESAM’s strategic framework, SESAM SAILS or the Sustainability and Accelerated Innovation in Learning and Solutions. The School is very interested in championing sustainability and Dr. Ancog challenged the new students to push boundaries and translate theories and concepts into actions and concrete, tangible solutions to the environmental problems the world is facing. 

As he closed, Dr. Ancog welcomed the students to SESAM and looked forward to having the orientation as an avenue to discuss and learn from each other. 

He then introduced the brief history of SESAM, its faculty members, researchers, and admin staff as well as its different divisions and services. Dr. Ancog also presented the SESAM’s earlier research framework called Environmental Conservation, Protection and Restoration/Rehabilitation or Envi-CPR. 

“The research problems are appreciated per the types of ecosystems where these environmental problems occur and therefore the ridge-to-reef approach is employed”, explained by Dr. Ancog

He ended his presentation with a reminder to all the students to follow the rules and policies set as these are systems that have been put in place to make sure that everything is in order, and he also encouraged the full cooperation of the students for their smooth sailing with SESAM all throughout their graduate life.

The Instructions Division, headed by Dr. Jessica D. Villanueva-Peyraube informed the students of the academic plans, processing of the academic requirements, and the rules and regulations. In her presentation, she emphasized what good research is– innovative, has specific objectives, worth studying, has logical and theoretical bases, doable, can be replicated, and leads to new questions. 

SESAM Researcher and Library head, Ms. Evangeline L. Alcantara presented different services of the library, its various collections, and facilities. She also discussed the process on how to access the library collections. 

The President of the UPLB Environmental Science Society, Mr. Rafael Artates, also graced the event and introduced the Society to the new students. An open forum was held towards the end of the event. In the end, Dr. Ancog encouraged the students to keep the communication line open and emphasized that SESAM is always there to reach out and help its students. This orientation was attended by 33 new and continuing students of SESAM (RLDAreglado).

Attainment of SDGs requires sustained commitment across all stakeholders- Usec. Edillon 

This was the first lesson in implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), according to Dr. Rosemarie G. Edillon, Undersecretary for National Development Policy and Planning, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), during the third School of Environmental Science and Management ExChanges Webinar Series. SESAM ExChanges is a webinar series on environmental challenges and solutions. The webinar was held via Zoom and Facebook Live last February 08, 2022.

During the opening program, Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., Chancellor University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB ) highlighted the importance of having Undersecretary Edillon in this SESAM ExChanges as she will shed light on the macroeconomy vis-a-vis on the progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). He also proudly mentioned that for two decades, SESAM has been a trailblazer of the environmental science discipline. “I congratulate SESAM and CETD, for consistently leading and organizing these events”, Chancellor Camacho, stressed.

For his part, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dean, SESAM, said that the school is very much interested in playing an active role in contributing to the policy direction of the country. He underscored the importance of webinars such as the SESAM ExChanges in sharing ideas and information. “Our aim here is to have an active platform for a more profound discussions on environmental problems, as well as the solutions”, Dr. Ancog said.

Usec. Edillon, a PhD graduate from La Trobe University in Australia and a 2019 Presidential Gawad CES Awardee, said that the stakeholders that should be committed in implementing the  MDGs include the government, private sector, civil society and the international community. It must also include a financing plan and an implementation plan that include programs to build resilience. She added the implementation must have a clear assignment of responsibilities,  as well as appropriate data monitoring.

She pointed out under outcome 1, (economic, social and environmental impacts of production and consumption processes valued), NEDA has conducted an urban carrying capacity of the cities of Tagaytay and Baguio. She also shared the progress in implementing on SDG 13, particularly on climate change, which is stipulated in the Philippine Nationally Determined Contributions (PH-NDC). “Our country committed to avoid 75 percent of future  greenhouse gas emissions between 2020 to 2030”, Usec. Edillon said. 

Usec. Edillon also pointed out some key progress in protecting marine areas, such as adopting policies on establishment of FIsheries Management Areas (FMAS) for the conservation and management of fisheries in Philippine waters (Fisheries Administrative Order 263 Series of 2019);  and the guidelines on the Establishment an Management of Marine Protected Area Networks (Department of Agriculture-Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Department of Interior and Local Government Joint Memorandum Circular).

Ninety-four participants joined the Zoom webinar, while more the Facebook live broadcast garnered more than 300 views from all over the globe. SESAM-CETD, headed by For. Sofia A. Alaira told the audience to expect more webinars in the coming months which will cover pressing issues on the environment.