Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Promising start to plastic pollution negotiations as countries show strong support for ambitious global agreement

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The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) welcomes the strong support shown for an ambitious global plastics treaty demonstrated at the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC1) concluded on December 02, 2022 in Punta del Este, Uruguay, but cautions that this is just the first step in the two-year negotiations process.

More than 145 countries have shown strong alignment in their preference for a treaty with specific and common, global rules. Such rules could include bans on the most problematic forms of plastic, and product requirements to ensure reuse and circularity. 

This is the first time that governments have met to negotiate global-level regulations to stop the plastic pollution crisis. The process is planned to conclude in 2024 and aims to create a global convention with a common global approach to tackle plastic pollution. 

Welcoming the progress made at the meeting, Eirik Lindebjerg, WWF Global Plastics Policy Lead, said “The momentum demonstrated at these negotiations is a promising sign that we will get a truly ambitious treaty with effective global measures to stop plastic pollution by the end of these negotiations.” However, he also warns that “This is just the first step towards a legally binding global treaty that can help us stop plastic pollution. The next stage of negotiations will be more challenging, as countries must agree on the technical measures and rules.  The push for an ambitious global plastics treaty has only just begun.”

It is now crucial that governments start developing specific rules towards the next negotiation meeting in Paris in May 2023, according to WWF.

In its regional statement for INC1, the Asia Pacific Group (APG) highlighted that the region is home to widely diverse countries that all share in common the sense of urgency to tackle this transboundary issue by strengthening global and regional coordination and cooperation.   The group also reiterated the need to fulfill the mandate decided under UNEA resolution 5/14, which includes discussions of all elements listed in said resolution.

Deputy Permanent Representative to UNEP & UN Habitat Maria Rosanna O. Josue stressed at INC1 that the Philippines has been championing the need for a legally binding global agreement to end this problem that not only coastal states but also landlocked countries face alike.  “The Philippines realizes that national legislation and action plans alone are not enough to address the transboundary problem of plastic pollution. We must start strong with the coherent organization of work anchored on bold and binding global rules and standards throughout the life cycle of plastics including those already existing in river and marine environments complemented by the needed implementation measures and technological, financial, and technical support while being informed by the best available science,” shared Josue.

WWF-Philippines Executive Director Katherine Custodio expressed the local office’ pledge of support to the INC. “WWF-Philippines is committed to participating and providing support to the INC process, and we have aligned our work to make the vision of no plastic in nature a reality.  We strongly hope that the Philippines would continue to show leadership and commitment on the global stage to end the problem of plastic pollution.”

WWF has called for the negotiations to result in an ambitious and inclusive treaty, with efficient control measures applicable at various levels, and which considers financial, technical and technological mechanisms to carry out a just transition at a global level.

DOST-SEI lauds 1,802 students for excellence in STEM

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The country continues to make a name on the international stage as students from various regions in the country bag 5,060 gold, silver, and bronze medals in 2021. This was in full display during the online awarding ceremony of the Youth Excellence in Science (YES) awards of the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute through its Facebook page last November 25, 2022.

As part of the activities of the 2022 National Science and Technology Week celebration, the DOST-SEI has conferred 1, 802 YES medals to elementary and high school students who have won gold, bronze, and silver medals either individually or by group on international science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) competition.

The total number of awardees were from various regions in the country:

National Capital Region – 805 awardees

CALABARZON – 189 awardees

Western Visayas – 115 awardees

Central Luzon – 113 awardees

Ilocos Region – 78 awardees

Bicol Region – 86 awardees

Zamboanga Peninsula – 55 awardees

Davao Region – 66 awardees

Northern Mindanao – 67 awardees

Central Visayas – 48 awardees

CARAGA – 38 awardees

Eastern Visayas – 37 awardees

Cordillera Administrative Region – 38 awardees

Cagayan Valley – 27 awardees

MIMAROPA – 19 awardees

SOCCSKSARGEN – 21 awardees

SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo expressed delight about how the youth are always eager to learn, unpack curiosity, and pursue excellence in science.

“It is a humbling moment for us at the Department of Science and Technology to be given the opportunity to celebrate the wins of our young geniuses who bagged awards from various international mathematics and science competitions. We commend you for having reached this impressive milestone that could only be accomplished through your sheer dedication and perseverance,” said Dr. Biyo.

The chief of the DOST, Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr., also congratulated the students and reminded them to continuously strive for excellence, not just in science, but in life. “We hope that this recognition further motivates you to strive for excellence and inspires you even more to choose STEM as a field of study and as a career,” said Dr. Solidum.

He also thanked the national organizers for the various STEM competitions, the coaches and trainers, and the student’s parents and guardians for investing in the young people.

YES Awardee, Harvey Allen V. Ylanan of the Ateneo de Manila Senior High School, who won a bronze medal in the Hong Kong International Science Olympiad and a silver in the Guangdong – Hongkong – Macao Grater at Area Mathematical Olympiad, encouraged his co-awardees to continue to pursue excellence and persevere despite the hardships, and to become a beacon of hope for an innovative future.

“I hope you may use this award to provide help in advocating and raising your voices for quality education for everyone, climate action, medical innovation, and scientific discovery in our country, where love, wisdom, the truth, and facts may grow and foster,” said Ylanan.

The YES Awards is a DOST institutional award for exemplary achievement of the youth in the fields of science and mathematics. It is in the form of a medal of distinction awarded by the DOST Secretary or the DOST Regional Director to deserving youth. It signifies DOST’s high regard for excellence and competitiveness in the fields of science and technology. 

A Case for Women to Lead in Tech

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Driven by the pursuit of disruptive innovation, Lista Co-founder Khriztina Lim sets her sights on revolutionizing how Filipinos manage their money.

There has never been a better time for female leadership in the Philippines. Findings from the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap Report show that women constitute 43% of all people hired in leadership roles in the country – making the Philippines as the country with the highest representation of women in leadership across the APAC region, and 4th in the world.

Many of the country’s top conglomerates and household name brands have female leaders. However, Filipina women are also making a name for themselves in the startup space as well.

One of those women is Khriztina Lim. No stranger to the fast-paced nature of startups, she earned her stripes at Grab where she started out as a Marketing Executive shortly after the superapp had begun operations in the country. She went on to become the Country Marketing Head for GrabTaxi Philippines where she was instrumental in fostering strategic partnerships – leading to a huge increase in both users and market share before capping off her tenure with Grab in a regional role that saw her handle several markets aside from the Philippines.

Passionate about disruptive innovation, after leading the charge to revolutionize mobility in the country, Khriztina set her sights on addressing another challenge many Filipinos face: financial management.

Many businesses in the local micro, small, and medium scale enterprises (MSME) sector still use manual logbooks for tracking day-to-day finances. Filipino households also cling to traditional methods such as having an alkansya (piggy bank) for savings and a listahan (list) for keeping tabs on debt and expenses.

To optimize financial management through technology, together with her co-founder Aaron Villegas and Khriztina Lim launched Lista – a free financial management app that provides individuals and businesses with everything they need to manage budgets, savings, debt, profits, and other financial transactions. By making it convenient for anyone to stay on top of their finances, Khriztina aims for every Filipino to set out on the path to financial flexibility where saving money and achieving financial goals are firmly within reach.

"The goal is not just to create a financial tool to assist Filipinos but for our app to be a reliable partner in helping individuals and MSMEs alike achieve their financial milestones," she said. "There are always challenges that surround innovation, but grit, passion, and a firm belief that Filipinos deserve better helps me thrive. Filipinos deserve a future where everyone can afford to have savings, emergency funds, and more, and Lista aims to make that happen.”

Since its launch last November, Lista has raised more than $5.1 million in its latest fund-raising round to accelerate the expansion of its services.

With the goal of simplifying financial management for all Filipinos firmly in her sights, Khriztina encourages aspiring women entrepreneurs to confidently venture into new businesses and industries. In today’s fast-paced world where digitalization drives innovation, Khriztina believes that there are many opportunities abound in the world of tech for women to thrive and make their names.

“Digitalization has become a significant factor in the everyday lives of Filipinos. More and more, women leaders are becoming more visible, supported, and spearheading the task of improving the lives of Filipinos, one innovation at a time, she said. “As long as you have a vision and a plan, anything is possible.”

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