The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) conducted the Visayas Regional Future Earth Community Mobilization Workshop last 23 and 24 February 2021 via Zoom with the theme, “Resilience and Sustainability Concerns in View of the COVID-19 Impact on Health, Food, Security, and Mobility”. The aim was to establish partnerships with local government units to address the sustainability problems of their municipalities. The 230 workshop participants, who were mainly from Western, Central, and Eastern Visayas consisted of representatives from the local government offices, academe, business sector, and civil society.

Academician (Acd.) Rhodora Azanza, president of NAST PHL; Dr. Gregorio del Pilar, president of National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP); and Engr. Rowen Gelonga, director of DOST Region 6, all gave their welcome remarks. This is followed by the presentation of National Scientist (NS) Lourdes Cruz, project leader of the Future Earth Philippines (FEP), about its goal to improve national capabilities and help attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through Knowledge-to-Action programs.

During the first day of the workshop, Hon. Loren Legarda, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives and the representative of Antique, discussed sustainability and resilience in the Visayas in view of COVID-19 and climate change. She emphasized the need for LGUs to undertake science-based and risk-informed action and investment planning. Dr. Leo Sebastian, chief of staff of Department of Agriculture, talked about food security and the department’s approach to a more sustainable agriculture.

In the second session, Governor Leopoldo Petilla presented the holistic approach currently used in Leyte to improve the economic resilience of communities, which include interventions to counter poverty and improve the health of children. Dr. Segundo Romero of Ateneo De Manila University presented a science city model for the Philippines and described, evaluated, and prescribed a course of action.

The afternoon session started with a discussion of community health resilience in view of the COVID pandemic by Dr. Van Philip Baton from the Department of Health Region 7. Forester Danilo Lorilla, chief of the Conservation and Development Division of DENR Region 6, then talked about environmental sustainability and resilience in the Visayas.

Acd. Alvin B. Culaba’s presentation on science and technology for sustainable communities introduced DOST’s iSTART program on Innovation, Science, and Technology for Accelerating Regional Technology-based and presented the first iSTART project being implemented in Leyte. The FEP Cluster heads presented problem trees, scenario matrices and implication wheels on the following topics: marine and coastal ecosystems by Acd. Rhodora Azanza; population health by Dr. Hilton Lam; plastic wastes by Acd. Virginia Cuevas, water security by Acd. Guillermo Tabios III; and land system change by Dr. Ma. Victoria Espaldon. The last activity for the first day of the workshop was a focus group discussion within LGUs about their SDG-related activities.

The second day started with the message of Hon. Fortunato Dela Peña, secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), on building stronger capacity for resilience. He mentioned the initiatives of the different agencies of DOST in addressing the pandemic and highlighted the commitment of DOST in delivering research-based innovations and solutions that are fundamental in resiliency and sustainability.

For the workshop, Dr. Romero discussed the expected outputs and the methods of analysis to be conducted by regional clusters. Participants were grouped per region then tasked to create a problem tree analysis of a specific problem in their chosen city or municipality. The groups then did a logical framework analysis as a prelude to the drafting of proposals aimed at solving a specific LGU problem with strategies, and plans based on the log frame. Outputs were presented in plenary for comments and suggestions. The participants from Ormoc agreed to present a project proposal to the mayor for implement-ation in the city.

Chancellor Clement Camposano of the University of the Philippines Visayas gave the closing remarks, enjoining the participants to use the workshop outputs towards the achievement of the SDGs in their respective local government units. (Luigi A. Dahonog / NAST PHL)

NAST PHL is an attached agency to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and serves as the country’s premier recognition and advisory body on matters related to science and technology.