Forging Partnerships for Climate Action at the 4th International Conference on Environment and Forest Conservation

#MSUMag | Six (6) countries, 5 national government offices, 15 academic institutions, 14 local government units, 7 private organizations, 17 forged partnerships, 256 presenters and co-authors, with a total of 332 participants, joined the 4th International Conference on Environment and Forest Conservation (ICEFC) on November 15-17, 2023, at the Aves Hall, Acacia Hotel, Davao City, Philippines, hosted by Mindanao State University – Maguindanao (MSU-Maguindanao).

In her welcome message, Dr. Bai Hejira Nefertiti M. Limbona, Chancellor of MSU-Maguindanao, emphasized the importance of fostering partnerships for climate action, particularly focusing on SDG Number 13. She cited the vulnerability of coastal communities to rising sea levels and provided the example of typhoon “Paeng” to underscore the urgency for environmental protection. This culminated in MSU – Maguindanao partnering with the Climate Change Commission to aid in environmental preservation in the Maguindanao provinces.

Additionally, Atty. Basari D. Mapupuno, President of the MSU System, highlighted the institution’s dedication to environmental care, expressing gratitude for collaborations with international institutions and stressing the need for collective action in addressing climate challenges. Hon. Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, represented by Hon. Christopher Arsibal, underscored the conference as a beacon of hope for collective action against climate change, emphasizing the importance of sustainable projects and knowledge exchange. Hon. Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, Chief Minister of BARMM, commended MSU-Maguindanao and participants for addressing climate change, advocating for joint efforts and conservation initiatives, while Prof. Ahmet Hamdi Topal from Kastamonu University, represented by Prof. Omer Kucuk, praised the partnership and knowledge exchange between institutions, highlighting the significance of the conference in sharing scientific knowledge on climate issues. Finally, Prof. Arif Satria, Rector of Institut of Pertanian Bogor (IPB) University, Indonesia, expressed commitment to climate conservation, acknowledging the importance of global cooperation for scientific discussions and long-term environmental impact through partnerships forged at the conference.

The first keynote address was delivered by Dr. Decibel V. Faustino-Eslava, Professor 9 of UP Los Baños. She highlighted the UN’s decade of action, stressing the urgency to address global challenges by 2030, including climate change, poverty, and gender equality. Highlighting the Philippines’ ambitious climate targets and vulnerabilities, she discussed the negative impacts of extreme resilience, calling for flood preparedness, sustainable agriculture, and justice in climate action. Emphasizing the need for accountability, stakeholder engagement, and relentless demands for change, she urged for meaningful partnerships and lasting relationships to effectively combat climate change.

Prof. Dr. Omer Kucuk, Vice Rector of Kastamonu University, also delivered a keynote speech in which he emphasized the dangers and seriousness of climate change, stressing the necessity to tackle it while advocating for sustainable forest management as a crucial measure in fighting climate change and safeguarding biodiversity.

The afternoon session featured diverse presentations. Senator Lorna Regina “Loren” B. Legarda’s message revolved around the greening program initiatives by the government. She also gave important points not merely because of legal obligations, but because we are the inhabitants of this planet. Budget and Management Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman shared that, as the nation aspires for sustainability and lasting development, a total of 9.4% of the fiscal year 2024 proposed national budget has been earmarked for climate change and mitigation and adoption projects and programs of the national government. Further, she encouraged the participants to continue forging partnerships towards a future that is green, resilient, and inclusive, stating that everyone has a shared responsibility to act now for the future of the next generation. The message was followed by Prof. Dr. Erol Akkuzu’s comprehensive overview of climate change’s impact on insects, including the causes and effects, as well as the decline in their populations due to various factors.

Dr. Masahiro Fujishima presented research on using Paramecium for environmental water quality conservation, detailing the protozoa’s properties, harmless nature to humans and animals, and its role in the carbon cycle. Hon. Alfredo M. Coro II’s pre-recorded presentation focused on Siargao’s ecosystem management, emphasizing the interconnectedness between livelihoods and the environment, highlighting science-based governance and partnerships, and showcasing initiatives that led to successful environmental conservation efforts, notably amid challenges posed by Typhoon Odette and the COVID-19 pandemic. His emphasis on innovative solutions and sustainable initiatives marked the core of Siargao’s recovery and eco-tourism development.

Afterwards, five parallel sessions with thematic areas: Environmental Conservation Policies and Eco-Governance, Biodiversity, and Ecosystem Services, Ecosystem Conservation and Management Agroforestry, Forest and Environmental Innovative Technology Biomass Energy Products and Conversion Technology, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, as well as other topics like Forest and Environmental Education, Gender and Development, Peace. These sessions provided a platform for participants from United States of America, Lithuania, Japan, Republic of Turkiye, Indonesia, and the Republic of the Philippines to present their research papers and engage in productive discussions. The sessions were moderated by Dr. Raquel D. Santiago-Arenas of MSU-Maguindanao, Dr. Renato Pacaldo of MSU-Marawi, Dr. Evelyn C. Bigcas of MSU-Marawi, Dr. Rey Capangpangan of MSU-Naawan, and Dr. Joel C. Arenas of MSU-Maguindanao for the virtual session.

The first day of the international conference culminated with a welcome dinner, serving as a conducive environment for institutions to engage in their exchange of tokens. The dinner facilitated meaningful interactions among diverse but collaborative participants and entities.

other photos are from DA ATI