The Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) of University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), in collaboration with the Office of Gender Concerns (OGC), hosted a hybrid event titled “Towards a Sustainable Campus: A Call to Action,” on 05 June 2024. This is in celebration of the World Environment Day and Pride Month 2024 with this year’s themes “Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience” and “Step UP, Speak OUt: Towards Empowerment and GEDSI Strengthening through ODeL,” respectively. The event strongly aligns with UPOU’s commitment to achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the goals embodying a shared vision for creating a sustainable, fair, and thriving world.

Celebrating Biodiversity and Diversity: Collaboration between UPOU FMDS and OGC on World Environment Day and Pride Month 2024

During the 5th International Conference on Open and Distance e-Learning (ICODeL) held on 23 August 2023, the UPOU, as spearheaded by the FMDS, launched the SiALLC or “Sustainability in Action – a Living Laboratory Campus,” an innovative initiative that aims to address the pressing need for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to take crucial role in advancing sustainability efforts. By leveraging their capabilities in teaching, research, and public service, UPOU can significantly contribute to sustainable development. FMDS, through this hybrid event, aimed to create a platform in informing UPOU stakeholders regarding its existing sustainability initiatives, featuring talks on gender equality, women’s empowerment, and inclusivity, aligning with OGC’s commitment to integrating gender beyond various sectors. The event facilitated hands-on demonstration of selected SiALLC components such as the Alitaptap Community Currency, FMDS Perma G.A.R.D.E.N. (Growing Appreciation towards Resilience, Development, Entrepreneurship, and Nutrition), and the UPOU’s Solid Waste Management (SWM) efforts.

The event was gracefully opened by Dr. Finaflor F. Taylan, OGC Director, with her welcome remarks and who provided a brief introduction on what to expect during the program. “Let us collectively foster more reflections and actions,” as she ended, highlighting the profound opportunity to celebrate diversity while advocating for a sustainable future. On the other hand, Dr. Melinda dP. Bandalaria, UPOU Chancellor, had her inspirational video message leaving a challenge to FMDS in bringing this discussion to the next level of advocacy and campaign, and policies. “Have an engaging discussion, firm up the discussion and agreements into resolutions for action,” she remarked.

Dr. Joane V. Serrano, FMDS Dean, commenced the discussions by delving into the transformation of UPOU’s physical campus into a sustainable and resilient campus through introducing the on-going UPOU’s sustainability initiatives, particularly the components of SiALLC. She uncovered the reality of the stagnant Philippine’s progress toward improving environmental health. Dean Serrano also highlighted the transitioning messages focusing on inclusiveness, universality, diversity, integration, action-oriented, and partnership leaving the attendees with a question, “If not higher education institution, then who? If not now, then when?”

Following this, Dr. Jabez Joshua M. Flores, UPOU FMDS Senior Lecturer and permaculture expert, presented virtually the continuous progress of FMDS Perma G.A.R.D.E.N. from being an idle land back in 2022 up to its holistic contribution across all sectors in alignment with the concept of permaculture. Dr. Flores showed the events through its publicly available information map: In terms of research, he also introduced the on-going ecosystem map of all literature and projects related to Perma G.A.R.D.E.N.

Celebrating Biodiversity and Diversity: Collaboration between UPOU FMDS and OGC on World Environment Day and Pride Month 2024

ICOT or Integrating Circular Operations and Thinking was launched by Assistant Professor Milben A. Bragais, FMDS faculty member and Solid Waste Management Committee Chair, by delving into the comprehensive management of solid waste emphasizing sustainable solutions and responsible waste management practices. During the discussion, he touched on the integration of circular thinking in waste management programs and the role of entities in implementing effective waste diversion strategies. Consequently, he facilitated an interactive game as an assessment tool to gauge participants’ understanding of waste management responsibilities.

Considering the mid-term evaluation of Alitaptap Community Currency (CC) pilot study last March 2024, with an excellent member recruitment and operationalization of CC scheme, this resulted in the development of Cyclos—a digital version of Alitaptap CC. Dr. Ferdinand C. Maquito, affiliate faculty member and Sekiguchi Global Research Association Philippine Chief Representative, comprehensively introduced its benefits of ease and convenience as people might not need to carry around a passbook anymore and the need for on-ground transactions. This flexibility to a payment solution is expected to establish community building.

Afterwards, Ms. Katherine Viñegas, Diploma in Women and Development (DWD) Program Senior Lecturer, virtually nourished the essence of SiALLC by sharing the integration of biodiversity and gender identities. Ms. Viñegas emphasized that women play a crucial role in biodiversity conservation impacting gender equality however, they are undervalued with limited access to resources and decision-making. “Including a stronger gender perspective in conservation can lead to diverse knowledge and improved land tenure,” she concluded.

With UPOU’s thrust towards a sustainability campus, a ceremonial tree planting followed, demonstrating its commitment to environmental sustainability and innovation. The tree planting was held at the UPOU Forest Arboretum located in the northeastern portion of UPOU Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna. Dean Serrano and Asst. Prof. Karl Abelard Edberto Villegas, Jr., faculty member and Program Chair of the Diploma in/Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management (D/MENRM), led the ceremony. Youth organizations of Los Baños, which have a growing partnership with UPOU FMDS, planted the two Philippine native trees expressing the active involvement of youth in sustainability as future leaders and decision makers. Among the forest species are Lipote Tree (Syzygium polycephaloides) and Malakatmon (Dillenia luzoniensis) which were planted by the Kaya Natin! Youth  Los Baños, Sangguniang Kabataan Federation of Los Baños and Rail Youth Organization of Barangay San Antonio, respectively.

The whole event was attended by a total of 25 participants, in Zoom, and 52 on-site, from UPOU faculty, staff, students, and external youth organizations.

UPOU and EDC Collaborates Towards the Development of a Native Forest Arboretum and Restoration under the BINHI Program

The signing proper was attended by UPOU representatives, namely: Dr. Jean A. Saludadez, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Dr. Joane V. Serrano, Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) Dean, Dr. Finaflor F. Taylan, Office of Gender Concerns (OGC) Director, Ms. Margaret Jarmin-Suarez, PDA for Institutional Linkages, and Asst. Prof. Karl Abelard Edberto Villegas, Jr., faculty member and Program Chair of the Diploma in/Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management (D/MENRM). Representatives from EDC were For. Jimson S. Solatre, Head of EDC Corporate Relations Office, For. Ronino C. Gibe, Watershed Management Officer Lead of BINHI Program, and Ms. Ronalyn B. Briones, EDC Partnership Officer.

In his opening remarks, For. Solatre provided an overview of the EDC’s commitment to environmental goals. EDC,  a company engaged in the exploration and development of geothermal and other renewable energy resources for power generation, is spearheading a nationwide reforestation and biodiversity conservation undertaking called “BINHI” which aims to arrest forest degradation, contribute to climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection, and provide sustainable livelihood for forest communities, among others. “We are here to make it official in aligning both our goals, believing that a forest arboretum can serve as a multifunctional space that benefits the environment, community, and future generations,” Solatre remarked.

Following the event, a ceremonial tree planting was also held at the project site, located beside the UPOU ICC where partner signatories planted a total of five Philippine native trees to represent the foundation of a strong and resilient partnership between these institutions. The forest species of Ipil (Intsia bijuga), Tindalo (Afzelia rhomboidea), Supa (Sindora supa), Kamatog (Sympetalandra densiflora) and Banuyo (Wallaceodendron celebicum) under the leguminous Fabaceae family were planted. To make it more meaningful and memorable, the names of participants who planted each seedling were inscribed on the tag with the name of the tree.

UPOU and EDC Collaborates Towards the Development of a Native Forest Arboretum and Restoration under the BINHI Program_1

Faculty members and staff from UPOU-FMDS who also participated during the ceremony were Asst. Prof. Milben Bragais, Asst. Prof. Lorena Jean D. Saludadez, Asst. Prof. Regine Karla P. Bagalanon, Asst. Prof. Ari Luis C. Halos, Asst. Prof. Remsce A. Pasahol, Mr. Larry Cruz, Ms. Wyomia Pradas, Ms. Josephine Macale, Ms. Maryjane Reondanga, Ms. Janele Belegal, Ms. Raizza Anna Alforja, Ms. Janelle Ebron, Ms. Dina Mae Rejano, Ms. Noreen Dianne Alazada, Ms. Anne Pauline Del Rosario, and Mr. Justin Tolentino.

Moreover, the activity mainly celebrated the World Environment Day 2024 with this year’s theme “Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought Resilience,” as a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), particularly SDGs 11, 15 and 17.

Written by Raizza Anna Alforja ♦ Edited by Mr. Larry Cruz ♦ Cross-posted from FMDS Website

Sustainable Development Goals


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