(Seated from left to right) ERDB Assistant Director Conrado B. Marquez, Overall Conference Coordinator Lynlei L. Pintor, PhD., DENR Assistant Secretary Atty. Daniel Darius M. Nicer, ERDB Director Maria Lourdes G. Ferrer, and Secretary-General, Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship Engr. Felix Jose M. Vitangcol with the guests delegates during the opening of the International Conference on Connecting the Dots on Circular Economy for Sustainable Development on November 8, 2023 in Manila, Philippines.

Manila, Philippines – The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau convened researchers and experts in various fields for the first R&D International Conference on Connecting the Dots on Circular Economy for Sustainable Development held on November 8, 2023 at Bellevue Hotel, Alabang, Manila. A total of 160 participants coming from India, South Korea, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Ethiopia, and the Philippines were present in the event.

Circular economy has been popularly advocated and extensively promoted in both the government and corporate sector. However, according to ERDB Director Maria Lourdes G. Ferrer, “…despite a lot of theoretical and technical information about it, there are still gaps to be filled to contribute to the fast-growing Circular Economy field of research and its application”. Dir. Ferrer added that “ERDB organized the conference in recognition of the need for the identification and alignment of future research endeavors, establishing links across countries and sectors, and uniting attempts to attain our targets for circularity.”

In his keynote speech for the conference, DENR Undersecretary Jonas R. Leones underpinned the government’s efforts to promote a circular economy in the country. Usec. Leones highlighted the Extended Producers Responsibility Act or RA 11898 which is the amendment of the Solid Waste Management Act. He also highlighted the DENR’s current effort to mainstream research, development and extension in the DENR program, policy and decision making, hence the conduct of the activity.

Given that many targets of SDGs push the boundaries of traditional development models, our cooperation for an evidence-based forward motion is clearly imperative.”, stressed USec. Leones

A total of 45 poster and paper presentations from various fields featured key research findings and new insights and ideas on how to transition towards a circular economy. Topics evolved on four sub-themes: 1. Circular Economy Towards a Sustainable Supply Chain; 2. Circular Economy Implications on the Environment; 3. Circular Economy Policies and Governance for Sustainable Development; and 4. Innovation and Technology Advancements in Circular Economy.

One of the highlights of the event was the speed talk wherein more than 20 participants presented their technology pitch. A media chat was also organized to provide a venue for the media to further explore the many aspects of circular economy. Present during the media chat were DENR Assistant Secretary Daniel Darius Nicer; ERDB Director Maria Lourdes G. Ferrer; Assistant Director Conrado B. Marquez; and Engr. Felix Jose M. Vitangcol of the Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship.

Some of the offices and organizations present during the activity include the European Union SWITCH Asia, US Agency for International Development, Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship, and Department of Trade and Industry, to name a few. There are also numerous presenters coming from different universities including the James Cook University, Ton Duc Thang University, Vietnam National University, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, University of Engineering and Management in Kolkata, University of California Santa Cruz – Ethiopia, National University of Laos, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, University of Santo Tomas, Maynilad Water Academy, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, and University of the Philippines.

For the second day of the conference on November 9, 24 papers will be presented. The paper presentations delve on various innovations and technology advancements in the circular economy and how a sustainable supply chain can be achieved through circular economy. There are also few papers focusing on strategies and best practices from private entities and the business sector. For a more holistic approach, there are also presentations tackling the policies and governance to promote a circular economy.

Through the conference, DENR through the ERDB hopes to pool the resources, ideas and experiences in the hope of identifying and aligning forthcoming research and development efforts of the DENR-ERDB.

ERDB Director Maria Lourdes G. Ferrer (left) and DENR Assistant Secretary Atty. Daniel Darius M. Nicer (right) officially opens the International Conference on Connecting the Dots on Circular Economy for Sustainable Development exhibit through a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 8, 2023 in Manila, Philippines.