ALAMINOS, Pangasinan- The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Luzon Cluster stressed the importance of collaboration in achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during the recently-concluded Luzon Regional Scientific Meeting on 24-25 April 2019 at Don Leopoldo Sison Convention Center.

With the theme “Caring for our Country’s Carrying Capacity,” the event highlighted the Philippines’ efforts on the attainment of the SDG on quality education (Goal 4), responsible consumption and production (Goal 12), and life below water (Goal 14). The specific topics that were discussed were: plastic waste, sustainable marine food security, and sustainable education, talent development, and retention.

Plastic Waste

Discussing the limited biodegradability of most commercial plastics, Academician Ernesto Del Rosario, member of the NAST PHL Mathematical and Physical Sciences Division (MPSD), emphasized the need to restrict and heavily tax the sale of non-biodegradable plastic products and to provide incentives to processors or manufacturers of biodegradable plastic products.

As the country has many potential microbial plastic degraders, Academician Virginia C. Cuevas, member of the NAST PHL Biological Sciences Division (BSD), emphasized the need for multidisciplinary researches on degradation technology to provide a lasting solution to plastic disposal.

Dr. Leslie Joy Diaz, Associate Professor, University of the Philippines Diliman, recommended developing the use of biodegradable polymers to minimize single-use plastics.

Sustainable Marine Food Security

Two experts from the UP Diliman Marine Science Institute discussed the concepts of sustainable invertebrate fisheries and mariculture. According to Dr. Marie Antonette Juinio-Meñez, invertebrate populations are vulnerable to the degradation of coastal habitats and overexploitation, thus responsible restocking and culture-based management interventions are needed to conserve genetic diversity and enhance productivity.

As mariculture, or the cultivation of marine life for food, deteriorates coastal ecosystems and causes environmental problems and economic loss, Dr. Maria Lourdes San Diego-McGlone underscored the need for regulation, management, and strong political will of local government units to address the environmental impacts of mariculture.

Sustainable Education, Talent Development, and Retention

On the problems of talent development and retention, Academician Caesar Saloma, NAST PHL MPSD member, discussed the need to build a nurturing and enabling environment for mentors and graduate students. Saloma also emphasized the importance of Ph.D. mentoring and the need to increase the number of Ph.D. supervisors who can produce graduates who can do independent research.

Academician Jose Maria Balmaceda, NAST PHL MPSD member, reiterated the importance of providing good science and math education for all by adopting a more inclusive education that moves away from an elitist selective mindset.

“There is a need to seriously address the high drop-out rates and huge numbers of out-of-school children and youth, examine the implementation of the K-12 program, and assess the country’s institutions and educational systems using a sustainability perspective,” Balmaceda added.

Call for Action

Concluding the two-day event, Academician Eufemio Rasco, Agricultural Sciences Division Chair, presented the Luzon RSM resolutions. The resolutions centered on the importance of partnerships and collaborations among LGUs, civil society organizations, researchers, communities, and other stakeholders.

The resolutions mentioned the need to support plastic waste recycling and redesign through research and development, to encourage communities and business partners to work together to create sustainable fishery enterprises, and to provide an enabling environment that will encourage retention of scientists, engineers, and other talents.

The resolutions formulated during the regional scientific meetings in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao will be consolidated and presented during the Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM). The consolidated resolutions will be transmitted to the Office of the President, the Cabinet, and the Congress for appropriate action.

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