University of the Philippines Los Baños
Monday, 07 August 2017 16:21

EnviSci conference calls for solutions to environmental issues

SESAM conf

The importance of collaboration, teamwork, and interdisciplinary studies in pursuit of knowledge in environmental science became the central framework of the conference that the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) hosted on Aug. 3-4 at the CAS Auditorium.

The 2nd International and 6th National Conference on Environmental Science, with the theme “Baselining, yardsticks, and agenda-setting in environmental science research,” did not only bring together around 300 established and promising environment researchers from various disciplines, universities, and countries. It also gathered some of the biggest names in the study and practice of environmental science and governance who called for a unified effort in finding solutions to lingering environmental issues.

In her keynote address during the conference’s first day, Dr. Helene Marsh, emeritus professor at James Cook University, Australia, related the importance of the holistic use of the biological, physical, and social sciences in environmental science through her own study about the conservation of dugong. “I can’t make a difference without collaboration,” she said.

“Learn to work with teams and with people with different expertise from you,” Dr. Marsh added, as she underscored climate change and biodiversity loss as two of the most important “wicked environmental problems” that the world faces.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ben Malayang III, president of Silliman University and former dean of SESAM, in his keynote address on the second day, underscored the “disciplinal obligations” of various scholars in linking their respective specializations to environmental sciences.

“I am hoping that eventually, environmental science becomes both a science and an art, with an impressive arsenal of both reason and reasoned passion, so that doing so, environmental science goes beyond mere epistemology, and will go into the realms of systematic ethics, aesthetics, and politics,” Dr. Malayang said.

He cited the study of pollution as an example of an aggregated understanding of the environment. “It would not be a complete understanding of pollution if it does not include in ascertaining its nature and the features of it, the political, social, cultural, and other products and processes that create and allow impurities,” Dr. Malayang said.

Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., in his welcome remarks, recognized the importance of the conference. “It is certainly a relevant forum where we may continue our conversations on how research and development in environmental science can truly make a difference,” he said. “I am optimistic that today’s very strong showing will bring us much closer to ensuring a clean and healthy environment.”

The conference also featured plenary talks from distinguished experts, majority of whom thought leaders in the environment sector. The plenary talks were on environmental policies, climate change and disaster risk reduction frameworks and research agenda, and space science and satellite data. One of the speakers was Dr. Rex Victor Cruz, professor and former chancellor of UPLB, who discussed science-based management of watershed and ecosystems through long-term monitoring and research.

The conference’s parallel sessions and poster presentations, which covered 96 papers and 45 posters, respectively, also reflected the inter-disciplinary nature of environmental science. These studies tackled various key researchable areas, namely: climate change, variability, and air quality; environmental impact assessment; biodiversity and conservation; environment, resources, and population dynamics; integrated water resource systems; environmental education and integration of information databases and networks; lake ecosystems assessment; land use and land cover change; disaster risks and management, human health, and environmental hazards; and best practices and green solutions for sustainable development.

Dr. Decibel Faustino-Eslava, dean of SESAM and Dr. Lemnuel Aragones, director of UP Diliman Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology and president of the Philippine Environmental Science Association (PESA), delivered the conference’s opening and closing remarks, respectively. PESA and SESAM co-organized the said conference. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)