KORONADAL, SOUTH COTABATO – The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Mindanao Cluster highlighted the need to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure progress and sustainability during the recently-concluded Mindanao Regional Scientific Meeting on 18-19 June 2019 at The Farm @ Carpenter Hill, Koronadal City, South Cotabato. The Health Sciences Division, chaired by Acd. Jaime C. Montoya and Social Sciences Division, chaired by National Scientist Raul V. Fabella, in close coordination with DOST XII, led by Regional Director Zenaida P. Hadji Raof Laidan, spearheaded this year’s Mindanao RSM.

With the overarching theme “Caring for our Country’s Carrying Capacity,” SDG on [Goal 4] quality education, [Goal 12] responsible consumption and production, and [Goal 14] life below water were discussed through topics namely plastic waste, sustainable marine food security, and sustainable education, talent development. The Mindanao RSM is the last leg of the three regional scientific meetings organized in preparation for the 41st Annual Scientific Meeting on 10-11 July 2019 at Edsa Shangri-la, Ortigas, Manila.

DOST XII Regional Director Zenaida P. Hadji Raof Laidan formally opened the event and welcomed the participants from different parts of the country. She said that Mindanao has great potential for progress thus, contributing to the country’s development and socio-economic growth. NAST PHL President Acd. Rhodora V. Azanza also delivered her opening message, highlighting the need to create recommendations for environmental sustainability. DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña then shared his message emphasizing the need to achieve each of the SDGs. This was followed by the DOST Programs Orientation by Dr. Laidan, NAST PHL introduction by Director Luningning E. Samarita-Domingo, and overview of the RSM by NAST Vice President Fabian M. Dayrit.

Plastic Waste

The first plenary session on Plastic Waste revolved on the effects of plastics to marine and humans. Dr. Edwin F. Romano, Jr., Chairman, Chemistry Department, Negros Oriental State University, provided an overview of the impact of microplastic pollution on marine organisms in the Philippines. He encouraged the conduct of more research studies on microplastic pollution among universities and research and development institutions as well as strengthen government support to increase public knowledge and information on microplastics.Dr. Lynn Crisanta R. Panganiban discussed the health impacts of plastic pollution. She suggested conducting hazard identification on chemical presence on plastics, risk analysis frameworks, research on exposure pathways and adverse effects of plastics on human health.

Sustainable Marine Food Security

Two NAST Academy Members discussed status and trends of certain marine species in the country. Acd. Mudjekeewis D. Santos, member, Agricultural Sciences Division (ASD), discussed the status and trends of large oceanic pelagic in the country. He suggested strengthening implementation of rules and regulations protecting marine resources, supporting the Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO 263), and following ecosystem approach for fisheries management ensure sustainability.

Acd. Marco Nemesio E. Montaño, member, Mathematical and Physical Sciences Division (MPSD), provided an overview of the recent trends regarding the seaweed industry sustainability. He expounded on the various benefits and innovations that can be developed using seaweeds and recommended increasing the number of marine plants experts, social media engagement, seaweed products investment, and collaborations among government, academic and private sector.

Sustainable Education, Talent Development, and Retention

Tackling challenges on talent development and retention, Dr. Franco G. Teves, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) discussed the challenges of retaining talent based on the MSU-IIT experience. He said that in order to retain talents, policies, work environment, and organizational culture should encourage healthy collaboration by being fair and enabling.

Likewise, Academician Jose Maria P. Balmaceda, also a member of MPSD, advocated inclusive sustainable education. He reiterated the importance of providing good science and math education available for all by adopting a more inclusive education that moves away from an elitist selective mindset. He also pointed out the need to address high drop-out rate and large number of out-of-school youth by assessing institutions and educational systems using a sustainability perspective and examining the K-12 program implementation.

Sustainable Halal Ecosystem

DOST XII Regional Director Zenaida P. Hadji Raof Laidan presented the program on mainstreaming eco-Halal in the Philippines. She recommended providing a comprehensive science-based system to establish a sustainable Halal ecosystem and industry in the country.Call for Action

Concluding the two-day event, the Scientific Posters Board of Judges, chaired by Acd. Eufemio T. Rasco of the Agricultural Sciences Division (ASD), announced the best poster with the title, “Spin Coating-Derived PVA/CS Composite Film Loaded with Plasmonic Metal Nanoparticles for Sensor Applications”. Consecutively, the Mindanao RSM Resolutions Committee, chaired by NS Raul V. Fabella of the Social Sciences Division (SSD) presented the Mindanao RSM resolutions which was responded by Dr. Norma Dalamban, on behalf of Minister Aida M. Silongan of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – Ministry of Science and Technology. She shared new changes seen in BARMM and emphasized its goal of improving quality service delivery through strong partnerships with local and national government. This was followed by the turnover of 2020 RSM hosting to DOST XIII (CARAGA), headed by Dr. Dominga D. Mallonga. The scientific meeting was then formally closed by NAST PHL Vice President Acd. Fabian M. Dayrit, challenging the participants to contribute to progress and sustainability in the country.The resolutions formulated during the regional scientific meetings in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao will be consolidated and presented during the Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM), a yearly gathering of public and private partners in development to discuss major and pressing issues related to science and technology (S&T). The consolidated resolutions will be transmitted to the Office of the President, the Cabinet, and the Congress for appropriate action and consideration.

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