SESAM launches “ExChanges” seminar series on environmental issues

The UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB SESAM), through its Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD), launched a new seminar series called “SESAM ExChanges: Environmental Challenges and Solutions.” 

The program, held on Sept 30 via video conferencing and Facebook live streaming, also served as a venue to launch another capacity building program of CETD that intends to attract greater public participation to promote environmental awareness and advocacy in the country. 

SESAM ExChanges aims to bring together scientists, researchers, and policy makers not only to talk about environmental challenges but to also complement these with discussions about solutions.

ExChanges 

More than 180 participants from different offices, academic institutions, and government and non-government agencies in the country attended this maiden edition of ExChanges. 

Dean Ancog acknowledged and thanked the keynote speakers – two dedicated women in championing the environment – Representative Loren B. Legarda of the lone district of Antique Province and Atty. Ma. Paz “Ipat” G. Luna, for the time and effort to join the event. 

Rep. Loren B. Legarda, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives mentioned in her message that in early 2007, she filed Senate Bill 1395 to institutionalize an environment and natural resource accounting system.

“Today, we see clear opportunities as the financial and economic sectors of society are finally realizing that failure to value, and therefore, invest in caring for our natural resources is an asset portfolio management issue,” Rep. Legarda added.

According to her, large-scale mass tourism has led to ecosystem collapse that needed massive interventions and closures that severely affected the economics of these areas. The solution to this, she further said, is that we must instead have a pandemic-resistant industry of small-scale, outdoor establishments that bring people closer to nature.

Rep. Legarda introduced the Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System or House Bill 9181, which she said, needs a whole-of-government approach, because as a nation, there is a need to bond together to find out the value of what we stand for today by safeguarding our ecosystems and habitats. “Indeed, there is no time to lose,” she said at the end of her message.

Environmental policy and governance

Atty. Luna, for her part, discussed the status of environmental policy and governance in the Philippines. Atty. Luna is a consultant of the DENR and of the office of Rep. Legarda. In her presentation, Atty. Luna painted a very good picture of the environmental governance and policy in the Philippines. “I’m still hopeful. I wouldn’t be in this line of work if I wasn’t hopeless”, she said. 

On the highly publicized Manila Bay issue, Atty. Luna said that it will take more than planning to solve Manila Bay’s problem, since 80-90 percent of Manila-based pollution is from domestic wastewater. She added that what really needs to happen is the strict implementation of the sewerage plan. “The solution really is better water treatment and storage coverage,” she stressed. 

Opening ceremony 

The short opening ceremony at the start of the program was graced by Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, Jr., who in his remarks, mentioned that SESAM has always been a key figure in advancing the discipline and practice of environmental science and management in the country for more than two decades now. 

“This learning event series is a promising treasure to hone possible solutions that we can explore and implement to address environmental challenges,” Chancellor Camacho said. He commended SESAM Dean Rico C. Ancog, and the rest of the team for “not only leading and organizing this event but more so for actively finding ways to level up the teaching, research, training, and partnerships in environmental science and management.” 

Dean Ancog, in a short message to welcome the participants, discussed SESAM’s commitment to bring positive change to solve environmental problems. With the mantra, “SESAM SAILS” or (Sustainability and Accelerated Innovations in Learning and Solutions), the School aims to champion sustainability and translate it into concrete solutions. 

SESAM CETD is headed by For. Sofia A. Alaira, with members, Dr. Thaddeus P. Lawas, EnP Jessa O. Aquino, Robert Patrick M. Cabangbang, and Cherry S. Padilla. CETD works on five thematic focus areas, namely: 1) Environmental Science Advocacy and Awareness Raising, 2) Environmental Capacity Building and Technical Assistance, 3) Youth Environmental Leadership and Stewardship, 4) Partnerships, Cooperation, and Linkages for the Environment, and 5) Technology, Policy, and Innovations for the Environment. (Rosemarie Laila M. Areglado)

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