UPLB-INREM, partners explore circular economy in PH

Recognizing the significance of the Regional Circular and Ecological Sphere (R-CES) approach in addressing current and future climate issues, the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN) together with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and the UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management (UPLB-INREM) hosted the R-CES Scoping Workshop on Feb. 17-18 with the theme “Building Climate Resiliency Through Linking Rural-Urban Plans and Priorities.”

R-CES is a framework for a new paradigm in sustainable development bringing together existing approaches, namely, rural-urban linkages, ecosystem-based solutions, decarbonization, and resource circulation.

The workshop aimed to examine the R-CES concept and its applicability in the country’s context, help improve the R-CES framework based on the Philippine situation and realities on the ground, and identify potential entry points by which some elements of the framework can be integrated in the Philippine setting.

Approximately 259 members from civil society, public and private sectors participated in the virtual workshop.

In his opening message, Dr. Juan M. Pulhin, Academician and UPLB-INREM chair, accentuated the need for an inclusive and integrated approach in natural resource and environmental management to achieve transformative changes.

His talk was succeeded by the welcoming messages from APN Secretariat Director Yoichi Toyama and Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, Jr., who both highlighted the importance of maximizing interlinkages at the various local spheres as well as the synergies of rural and urban approaches in climate-proofing the future.

The keynote presentation, which was delivered by Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi, IGES president, explained the background and key elements of the R-CES concept and presented several examples of the R-CES approach in Japan and Asian countries.

Local perspectives were then heard from Alexis D. Lapiz of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) who spoke on behalf of Assistant Secretary and CCC Deputy Executive Director Romell Antonio O. Cuenca; Atty. Analiza Rebuelta-Teh, Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems and Climate Change of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; and Dakila Carlo E. Cua, governor of Quirino Province and president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.

Dr. Satoshi Kojima of IGES Kansai Research Centre delved deeper into the R-CES Scoping Project from a regional perspective while Dr. Bijon Kumer Mitra of IGES and Christmas Uchiyama of APN elaborated on CES initiatives in Asia.

The workshop then transitioned back to the Philippines and illuminated the efforts of various sectors towards climate resilience, which were provided by Assistant Director Joell H. Lales of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research; Laids Mias Cea, regional coordinator of CCCI Asia Pacific, UN Habitat; and Bonar Laureto, director of the Climate and Sustainability Unit of Deloitte Philippines.

A breakout session followed to solicit insights on the potential entry points of an R-CES framework using a SWOT analysis, during which five discussants shared their learning experiences on applying the framework. These were Engr. Miladee Azur of Legazpi City DRRMO; Dr. Glenn Fernandez of Sichuan University; Joy T. Santiago, environmental planner at the UP Resilience Institute; Nieva Natural, director of the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environment Staff under the National Economic and Development Authority; and Atty. Allan Barcena of the Energy Development Corporation.

Following the breakout session, Dr. Lylei L. Pintor of DENR-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau and Marjorie D. Resuello of Ritsumeikan University discussed prospective policy pathways in the Philippines, as well as their implications.

Dr. Pulhin concluded the workshop by reflecting on both the local and international experiences in implementing the R-CES framework, coining a new meaning for the acronym: R – Resource-based Management; C – Context-specific; E – Engagement of Stakeholders; and S – Systems Approach.

To end the workshop, both Dr. Pulhin and Mr. Toyama said that the scoping workshop is just the beginning of numerous initiatives that will further nurture the seeds of R-CES for a sustainable future. (Mary Beatrice S. Evaristo, INREM)