Top international and local scientists to participate in experts forum on rehab and reconstruction

Leading foreign and Filipino scientists and experts have confirmed participation in the experts forum on rebuilding communities and ecosystems jointly sponsored by the office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (PARR) and the Oscar M. Lopez Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Foundation, Inc. (OML Center).  “An Experts Forum on Rebuilding Communities and Ecosystems after Yolanda” which will be held on January 23 at the AIM Conference Center in Makati aims to support and guide rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts by both the government and the private sector.


Two of the international scientists who will present papers are Dr. B.K. van Wesenbeek and Mr. Joseph D’Cruz.  Dr. Wesenbeek is an expert on ecosystem assessment and ecological data analysis with a focus on coastal and wetland ecosystems.  She is currently affiliated with Deltares, an independent applied research institute in the field of water, soil and infrastructure based in Netherlands.  Mr. Joseph D’Cruz is the regional environment advisor at the UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre providing policy and technical advisory support to Asia-Pacific countries on environmental resilience, economics and governance, natural resource management, climate adaptation and mitigation, urbanization and sustainable energy access.  He is currently on deployment in the Philippines as part of the UNDP Early Recovery team where his focus is on sustainability and resilience within the longer-term recovery process.  He will speak on behalf of the UNDP Early Recovery Team for Typhoon Yolanda. His paper is collaborated with Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, the leader of the UNDP Team and the Management Coordinator for Response to Asian Tsunami based at the Bangkok Regional Center. The UNDP Team is now in Leyte and Samar conducting their assessment.


Filipino experts, meanwhile, will provide the national perspective in the forum.  Among the plenary speakers and paper presenters are Dr. Laura David of the UP Marine Science Institute and Dr. Mario delos Reyes of the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning.  They will present the state of knowledge in their respective sectors.


The forum to be participated in by more than 100 scientists and practitioners will concentrate on three themes: a) resilient structural designs for residential, buildings, and infrastructures; b) ecosystem rehabilitation and adaptation; and c) land use planning and management.  The experts are expected to develop recommendations on designs and standards for residential, buildings, and infrastructures; identify ecosystem-based adaptation measures responsive; prescribe recommendations to mainstream climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in revising the comprehensive land use plan (CLUP); form a team of advisors and network of experts to develop and implement an evidence-based rehabilitation of the Yolanda-affected communities; and identify research and knowledge gaps and opportunities.


“The OML Center is working closely with PARR to provide the evidence-based prescriptions that will guide the rehabilitation work on the ground and develop the framework which both the government and private sector can translate into action projects.  There is a need for rehabilitation efforts to be anchored on solid scientific foundation for cost efficient use of resources and to optimize the role of natural ecosystems in protecting people from the impacts of disasters and climate change,” Dr. Rodel Lasco, Scientific Director of the OML Center, explained.


In addition to the experts’ forum, the OML Center is developing a study which will adopt the ridge-to-reef approach to focus on uplands and lowlands, and coastal and agro-ecosystems. The study will provide the scientific inputs to national and local government agencies in the restoration and improvement of settlements, facilities, livelihood and ecosystems, as well as in reducing disaster risks in local communities.


The OML Center is a non-profit foundation working to generate science-based solutions in the area of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.  It aims to be a leading catalyst for generating science-based solutions to climate-related risks and disasters in the developing world by supporting applied research with practical outcomes to help the most vulnerable deal with the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. Its key partners include the Climate Change Commission, PAGASA, NAST, USAID, PTFCF, UP, Ateneo, La Salle, among others.


The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is a pioneer in generating 100% clean, renewable, and reliable power as an electricity supplier in the Philippines for over 40 years. With power plants all over Visayas and Mindanao, the company is one of the biggest producers of geothermal energy in Asia and is expanding its reach in the international market, allowing it to offer customers affordable energy rates. EDC also strives to provide the best customer service it can to all its clients by having helpful salespeople and easy to understand contracts. Because of all of this, it is poised to become the premier supplier of electricity for the Philippines’ Green Energy Option Program. EDC takes its mission as a renewable energy provider seriously and goes beyond sustainability by investing in programs that enhance the environment and empower its partner communities, thereby fostering regenerative development. The company has also been working toward being carbon-neutral by improving its energy efficiency, as well as implementing various greening projects to ensure that its mission to provide future generations with a better life remains intact.