The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) called for a concerted effort to act on key sustainable development areas as it concluded its two-day Visayas Regional Scientific Meeting (RSM) in Summit Hotel, Tacloban City last March 20-21, 2019.

The Visayas RSM is the first in the series of regional scientific meetings that will be conducted by NAST PHL this year in preparation for its 41st Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) on July 10-11, 2019 in Manila.

NAST PHL President Academician Rhodora V. Azanza welcomed the participants to the event, composed mainly of researchers and professors across the Visayas region. She highlighted NAST’s major role in providing crucial advice in key science and technology-related concerns of the country.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara delivered the keynote message on behalf of DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña. Dr. Guevara highlighted DOST’s commitment in building a progressive Philippines anchored on science and presented the major DOST accomplishments in R&D.

DOST Region 8 Director Edgardo M. Esperancilla shared some of the projects of the DOST Visayas Cluster in aiding MSME’s, academic institutions, and farmers in the region.

Pursuing the 41st ASM’s theme “Caring for the Country’s Carrying Capacity”, the Visayas RSM focused on three sustainable development concerns: plastic waste; sustainable marine food security; and sustainable education, talent development, and retention.

In addressing the threat of plastic pollution, RSM Visayas featured Academicians Fabian Dayrit, Agnes Rola, and Alvin Culaba, who presented talks on the nature of plastic waste, the challenges in the implementation of solid waste management laws, and single-use plastic bags.

The second SDG area that was addressed was the crucial role of fisheries in the country’s food security. Mr. Rollan Geronimo of University of Hawai’i at Manoa discussed impacts of climate change on fisheries and Dr. Roger Edward Mamauag of SEAFDEC talk about the need to expand locally-produced aquaculture feeds.

Managing the country’s S&T human resources has been a long-standing concern of the country. Academician Reynaldo Vea’s talk centered on improving the S&T talent of the country and their potential contribution to the overall development of the Philippines. He mentioned the need to ensure employment for the growing number of engineers, scientists, and researchers across the country. Dr. Josette T. Biyo, Director of the Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), shared the good news of increased slots for graduate degree and post-graduate degree programs, reiterating the importance of S&T talent in contributing to the welfare of the people. Director Biyo highlighted SEI’s Philippine Patriot Program as an avenue in strengthening the pool of S&T human resources in the country.

NAST President Azanza also gave some updates regarding its efforts on universal health care law and the Philippine blue economy, including the various advisory meetings it conducted with national government agencies such as Department of Energy, Department of Information and Communications Technology, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Concluding the two-day event, DOST Region 8 Director Esperancilla cited the importance of the RSM in promoting the development in the Visayas region. A formal presentation of the RSM resolutions was made by NAST Pres. Azanza to NEDA Region 8 OIC Dir. Meylene Rosales. Among the resolutions formulated during the RSM were the recommendations to support research and development (R&D) efforts in biodegradable plastics; to push for amendments on the R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act; increase support on R&D in securing the nutritional requirements of farmed fish species; and sustaining the number of BS, MS, and PhD scholars across all S&T fields in the country.

The resolutions formulated during the Visayas RSM will be consolidated with the resolutions that will be made in the Luzon RSM that is slated to be organized on April in Pangasinan and in the Mindanao RSM that will be conducted in May in General Santos City. These resolutions will then be finalized during the ASM on July in Manila and will then be transmitted to the Office of the President, the Cabinet, and the Congress for appropriate action and consideration.

The program was closed with the turnover of chairmanship of the 2020 Visayas RSM to DOST Region 7 Assistant Regional Director Jesus Zamora. The 2020 Visayas RSM will be held in Central Visayas next year, with the DOST Regional Office No. VII serving as NAST’s co-organizer in the event.

The National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines is the country’s premier advisory and recognition body on matters related to science and technology.