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Economy & Environment Group conducts 1st Visayas Forum

The 1st Visayas Forum on Economy and Environment was held on March 3, 2016 at the UP Visayas Miagao campus.

“We are pleased that the Economy and Environment Group – Philippines of the Resource and Environmental Economics Foundation of the Philippines (EEG-REAP) has approached UP Visayas to embark on this partnership in capacity building and transdiciplinary research on economy and the environment,” says UPV Chancellor Rommel Espinosa who welcomed the guests and participants of the forum.

He said that the venture supports UPV’s stated mission to “lead in and advocate for the sustainable development of the Visayas region and of the nation within the changing world order.”

Dr. Gem B. Castillo, National Director, EEG Philippines and President of REAP, was the keynote speaker of the forum who gave a brief background about the organization.

He said that the group was established in 2015 as part of the Resources and Environmental Economics Foundation of the Philippines (REAP). It focuses on building capacity for transdisciplinary research and promoting regional collaboration in addressing global and local economic and environmental challenges. It is a partner-member of the Economy and Environment Partnership for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA). The partner countries of EEPSEA include Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Lower Mekong Sub-region countries of Thailand, Lao PDR, and Myanmar.

Castillo pointed out that important, global economic trends happening now include geopolitical realignment, continued global violent extremism, U.S. economic resurgence, Post-BRICS emerging markets, new resource slump cycle, accelerating global climate change, depopulation waves, second IT revolution, the rise of machines, evolving artificial intelligence (AI), and cyber insecurity.

On the environmental side, the trends include: pollution of drinking water, pollution of lakes, rivers, and reservoir, air pollution, extinction of plant and animal species; loss of biodiversity, loss of tropical rainforests, coastal and marine habitats, global warming and climate change; increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

As a whole, he said that the global challenges we face today include the dramatic increase in life expectancy all over the world, migration and massive increase in urbanisation resulting to inequalities between urban and rural areas.

“The universities need to be at the vanguard of innovation and be facilitators of impact instead of being impediments,” Castillo he said.

Lastly, he emphasized the need for regional integration pointing to globalization and how to truly work borderlessly.

Dr. Alice Joan Ferrer, Deputy Director of EEG Philippines talked about the areas of research of EEG as well as its plans and programs. According to her the areas of research include: climate change and disaster risk management, sustainable conservation financing for ecosystem services and biodiversity, environmental degradation and food security, renewable energy, air and water pollution, and impact assessment and evaluation of ENR programs, projects and policies.

Its short term plans and programs (2016-2017) include: identify priority research areas (develop research questions for setting priority areas of research), write proposals and seek initial funding support (beyond 2015), conduct organization workshop/develop the MOP, and establish Regional EEG Chapters.

For the medium-term (2016-2020) plans, this includes: sustaining Regional EEG Chapters, establish a 5-year Research Programs, hire regular staff and establish own office, do a data banking (researchers and researches), conduct an organizational assessment (every 3 years), and that funding sources are sustained.

Ferrer, is also a professor in economics at the Division of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, UPV, who, along with her colleague, Dr. Rodelio Subade, organized the said forum.

The forum was organized by the UPV Oeconomicus, a university recognized, student-based organization, in partnership with the economics faculty members of the Division of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, as well as students who are economics major. The Office of Continuing Education and Pahinungod and the Information and Publications Office gave logistical support. The forum was attended by teachers, researchers and representatives from the various colleges, universities, and government agencies in Panay, Iloilo Province and Bacolod City.

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