Selected faculty members from all eight constituent universities (CUs) of the University of the Philippines gathered together on February 27, 2019 to exchange notes and take stock of their experiences in providing policy advice to the government in the areas of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change. The “Scoping Workshop on the Role of Academia in Policymaking for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Action” was organized by the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UPRI), with support from the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA).
Held at Microtel Technohub in Quezon City, the event marked the first-ever system-wide convention of fellows under the UPRI umbrella. A total of 37 faculty members from UP’s major campuses, including the UP Open University, attended the workshop, representing various disciplines in the natural sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, and management.
Dr. Alfredo Mahar Lagmay, UPRI Executive Director and Professor at the UP-National Institute of Geological Sciences, formally opened the workshop with an update on the current status of UPRI as a distinct unit under the Office of the President. He explained that the Institute itself is a product of three independent initiatives that eventually converged under one roof in 2017, namely: the Resilience Institute conceived by then UPD Vice Chancellor Dr. Benito Pacheco; the RESILIENCE website project spearheaded by then UP Vice President for Public Affairs and now Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Dr. J. Prospero “Popoy” de Vera; and, Project NOAH under Dr. Lagmay.
UP Vice President for Public Affairs Dr. Elena E. Pernia, also a former dean of the UP College of Mass Communications, welcomed the participants on behalf of UP President Danilo L. Concepcion. Dr. Rajib Shaw, highly regarded DRR and climate change adaptation scholar who concurrently chairs the UNISDR Science and Technology Advisor Group, delivered the keynote speech through a video message, where he underscored the critical role of the academe in global climate action and resilience. Professor Pacheco of the UP Institute of Civil Engineering and former executive director of UPRI, also gave an inspirational talk, highlighting transdisciplinary collaboration as the backbone of a “network-emergent serendipity” made possible through UPRI.
The workshop proper kicked off with a network mapping exercise in the morning, followed by small parallel group discussions in the afternoon. The network map provided a snapshot of past and ongoing linkages between and among faculty members of the various UP campuses. Meanwhile, the group discussions delved on the issues and challenges that the participants have encountered in providing DRR and climate change advice to the government. Ways forward to strengthen academe-government engagement in policymaking for DRR and climate action were also discussed.
The one-day activity concluded with a closing message from Dean Maria Fe Villamejor-Mendoza of the UP-National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG). It formally ended with a ceremonial pledging of commitment from participating UPRI fellows to remain steadfast in advancing the University’s advocacy and efforts towards strengthening the capacity of UP, the nation and the region to withstand adversities and build sustainable and resilient communities.
Professor Kristoffer Berse of UP-NCPAG served as overall facilitator and lead convenor of the workshop. The activity was undertaken as part of Dr. Berse’s INGSA project under UPRI, in association with the UP-NCPAG and the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk.
Plans are in the pipeline to hold separate strategic planning sessions with the rest of UPRI fellows in UP Baguio, UP Cebu, UP Diliman, UP Los Baños, UP Manila, UP Mindanao, UP Visayas, and UP Open University.