In line with the World Earth Day commemoration this year, the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) International Chapters – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and State of Qatar collaborated for a joint international conference highlighting the restoration of the earth through a series of technical sessions related to Solid Waste Management (SWM), last April 30. The four-hour Continuing Professional Development (CPD) webinar was held with the support of the PIEP National Board, Secretariat and the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) Board of Environmental Planning.
Registration rose to nearly 500 as the interest grew from environmental planners from the 31 PIEP Chapters and related professions. PIEP Qatar collaborated with a strategic media partner Qabayan Radio 94.3 FM - the first and only Filipino Radio Station in Qatar. The event which was also streamed live on facebook was hosted by EnP Leo Ortega (PIEP-Qatar) and EnP Edwin Bagsit (PIEP-KSA) who moderated the sessions and kept the delegates engaged throughout the conference. PIEP KSA Charter President EnP Eldrid B. Refil officially welcomed the delegates with his words highlighting the immense pleasure of bringing to fruition the very first joint international CPD event through a collaborative effort of the two international chapters and the support of the mother organization. “We, the PIEP international chapters here in KSA and Qatar are equally excited to welcome you all to this very first joint CPD seminar in celebration of World Earth Day. We have an amazing line-up of relevant topics on solid waste management and we're fortunate to have three highly competent and experienced speakers joining us today and I hope we all enjoy the conference as we learn along the way.”
The presence of the members of the PIEP National Board of Trustees and the PRC CPD Council even made the event extra-special. In his message, PIEP National Executive Vice President - EnP Levy O. Espinas, who is also overseeing the International Cluster, congratulated the organizing chapters on the outstanding synergy and unparalleled passion in making the event a grand success from conceptualization to execution. Meanwhile, PIEP National President EnP Maria Jorquesa A. Hakcholna commended international chapters for extending the invite to all PIEP chapters and congratulated them on the impressive conduct of the event. She further encouraged all the delegates to rethink, envision and plan to implement innovative endeavors with smart nature-based solutions as well as strengthen the resolve to be stewards of the environment. Members of the PRC National CPD Council present were Dr. Cora Cruz, Cr. Dina Magnaye, EnP John Ceffrey Ligue and EnP Felicisimo Tejuco, Jr.
The technical sessions were the highlight of the conference as the delegates interacted with the technical presenters and didn’t leave a stone unturned as they actively participated in the discussions. EnP Joseph Uy, Jr. from PIEP KSA presented the topic “Compact Environmental Biogas Plant” for the first session wherein the overlooked potential of this renewable energy source would revolutionize the way solid waste materials are being managed and bring value-added benefits to the Philippine economy. He concluded the session with his words: “To truly transform our environment, protect our sanctuary, and save our planet from the consequences of climate change, and daily waste, we need to eventually embrace sustainability drive for renewable energy. Go Biomass!”
EnP Franz Luigi Lugena for the Technical Session 2, touched on the “Similarities, Differences and Trends of Solid Waste Management in the Philippines and Qatar”. He emphasized that, “Solid waste is a global problem. Source waste reduction and the role in it by waste generators is as important as downstream recycling. As much as governments are responsible for SWM, people are also responsible for it. SWM must be given priority as investments on it are also investments on our people.” There might be a great disparity in the SWM efforts between the two countries but the Philippines can do better in the coming years.
And to cap the webinar, Technical Session 3 Speaker EnP Maria Ana Pulido presented “Developing a Theory of Change Model for a Data-Driven Integrated SWM Plan and Strategy: Identifying Key Indicators to Trigger New and Essential Interventions Since the Passage of the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000”. She demonstrated the benefits and provided an example on how TOC could help us understand better the big picture and work on a myriad of solutions to SWM issues and concerns. She stressed that, “Theory of Change is an excellent tool towards a sustainable local economy and enterprising communities (through mindset shift strategy) living in inclusive smart cities. But solid waste is a personal cause, so we should all act on it and start within ourselves and not heavily rely on the local government. Sustainability and personal responsibility is the key.”
In between technical sessions were stretch breaks while PIEP KSA and PIEP Qatar showcased their respective chapter audio-visual presentations. Finally, PIEP Qatar Charter President Mary Grace Hermosa-Pineda concluded the very first PIEP international joint CPD program with her vote of thanks and conference synthesis emphasizing the pivotal role of each of the members of the organizing committee, PIEP national board and secretariat, PRC, Qabayan Radio 94.3 FM and the rest of the delegates for making the event a huge success. “We are truly honored to receive your heartwarming messages. This joint CPD Program cum international conference would not be possible without your outpouring love and support. It was a superb experience. Thank you very much and we look forward to more collaborations with the international and local PIEP chapters in the near future.”
Without a doubt, the joint CPD event is a testament of effective and careful planning and execution through the collaborative efforts of the men and women behind the scenes. We, environmental planners, are doers and we will thrive amidst the challenges.