First among many steps: iCSC and USEP establishes policy research partnership

by Janssen Mozar Martinez Reinforcing its commitment in promoting multi-sector climate change-related initiatives, the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) formalized a policy research partnership with yet another local academic institution, the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) , through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing last February 23, 2016. The partnership’s
USEP signing USEP President Dr. Lourdes C. Generalao (sixth from left) and key USEP officials along with iCSC Associate for Climate Policy Kairos T. Dela Cruz and Policy Analyst Danica Marie F. Supnet

primary focus is researching on the local attributions of Slow Onset Climate Change Impacts (SOI), after iCSC’s first SOI research which was formally launched last year. SOI are “slow onset hazards that unfold slowly over months or several years” such as change in temperature, rising sea levels, and the like. In turn, SOI affects the acute environmental hazards such as typhoons, heavy rains, and others in terms of its severity, frequency, and location of occurrence. In addition to SOI, Vulnerability and Risk Assessments (VRA) and the effective delivery of climate finance are two of the many potential collaborations that this partnership can be translated into. The iCSC-USEP partnership is part of the ambition of creating a network of civil society organizations (CSOs) and local academic institutions, thus forging an interface between policy-making and practice. This partnership envisions to see in practice the process of grassroots climate change research feeding into the short- and long-term development planning through the cooperation between local academic institutions and local government units (LGUs). This partnership reaffirms the strategic position of local academic institutions such as USEP to stand among the forerunners of climate policy-making through in-depth researches. USEP President Dr. Lourdes C. Generalao, a researcher herself, appreciates the importance of this partnership and describes it as timely, coinciding with the university’s initiative of gearing up for more community-based research on climate impacts that beset the whole region.
RTD iCSC Associate for Climate Policy Angelo Kairos T. dela Cruz during the round table discussion in USEP-Tagum Campus

In addition to the MOU signing, a round-table discussion (RTD) took place in USEP – Tagum Campus, last February 24. Participants of the RTD include USEP’s key officials, faculty, research coordinators, student representatives, and LGU planning officials. During the RTD, iCSC’s Associate for Climate Policy Angelo Kairos T. Dela Cruz presented the organization’s portfolios on climate policy and renewable energy program and introduced the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) . What garnered much attention and possible partnership opportunities are the Solar Scholars program and the PSF. The notion of local empowerment through utilization of renewable (solar) energy presents an opportunity for both parties due to the current power crisis being experienced in the Davao Region and other areas in Mindanao. Meanwhile, the participants are equally interested with the PSF and its possible implications toward USEP’s research and extension (R&E) programs with its various partner communities, which appear to be vulnerable to climate risks. Both iCSC and USEP recognize that forging this partnership is the first among many steps which must be taken in order achieve their diverse, yet aligned objectives. The mutual eagerness from both sides of the table serves as fuel for more initiatives to come. Note: In addition to this research partnership with USEP, iCSC has also established a similar partnership with Benguet State University (BSU) in Luzon last December 2015.