ICGD2 shows CPAf’s readiness to face the new future

We may be in General Community Quarantine here in Los Baños but technology has enabled us to come together from different parts of the country, region, and the world to exchange insights about governance and development.”

This was a statement given by Dr. Aileen V. Lapitan, the conference chair of the 2nd International Conference on Governance and Development (ICGD2), during the opening program of the said conference. Organized by the UPLB College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf), the event was held on March 23-25, 2021 via Zoom.

It was co-organized by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research (DOST-PCAARRD) and the Philippine Extension and Advisory Services Network, Inc. (PhilEASNet). Over 200 participants from more than 40 universities and institutions across the globe.

Started in 2018, ICGD intends to bring together researchers, faculty, students, development practitioners, and other experts to present and exchange innovative ideas and learnings that could foster effective governance and development. ICGD2 was initially scheduled in 2020, but it was moved this year and was held virtually to accommodate the restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

For ICGD2, the conference zeroed in on the theme “Governance for Development in Post-Pandemic Communities: Innovations for the New Future.” It featured three plenary sessions and over a hundred papers were presented in the subsequent 23 parallel sessions and 11 organized sessions.

UP President Danilo L. Concepcion, UPLB Chancellor Jose V. Camacho Jr., and DOST PCAARRD Executive Director Reynaldo V. Ebora graced the opening program and in their messages, acknowledged the need to welcome the challenges presented by COVID 19, transform them into opportunities toward a more adaptive and resilient future.

“The New Future” begins with persistent issues

The pandemic has “irreversibly reshaped” the manner of finding solutions to persistent and emerging challenges and development. One such persistent challenge is the longstanding problem of violence against women. In her keynote message, Dr. Claudia Nancy Avellaneda of O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, discussed how women across the globe are generally affected more by the COVID 19 Pandemic. She grounded everyone on the reality of this problem and highlighted the drivers that create pro-women institutions (PWIs) and the importance of environments where women can voice their needs and demands and help each other. While the concept of PWIs may be different from gender mainstreaming, Dr. Avellaneda recognized the presence of several frameworks in creating additive and multiplier effects toward giving equal opportunities for men and women.

Following the keynote presentation was the first plenary session which centered on the Emergent Governance Issues and Innovations. Dr. Michael Klaus of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Dr. Nico Ravanilla of the University of California in San Diego, Dr. Ricardo Bello-Gomez of Texas Tech University, and Atty. Damcelle T. Cortes of CPAf who is also a former Commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Women. Dr. Eiji Oyamada of Doshisha University Graduate School of Global Studies served as the discussant for this session. The session highlighted the importance of talking about governance challenges, the lessons from past governance experiences, and the importance of bridging science and governance. The session also provided insights on planning for the new future.

The second plenary session on “Innovation Systems in the New Future” discussed further the various opportunities that the pandemic brought that need to be ushered into the new future. These include the Filipino Bayanihan, geographically mobile job opportunities for people in rural areas, and innovations developed to improve the education system. Speakers in this session were Dr. Eing-Ming Wu of Shu-Te University and Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association in Taiwan, Dr. Don Earl Albrecht of Utah State University, and Dr. Melinda Dela Peña-Bandalaria of the UP Open University. Dr. Yudo Anggoro of Bandung Institute of Technology, who served as session discussant, also emphasized that moving into the new future meant utilizing technology to make governance processes simple, streamlined, and smart.

For the third plenary session, the discussions focused on the “Development Dilemmas for Communities, Lessons Learned, and Promising Insights and Perspectives for the New Future.” Mayor Vincent L. Soriano of the Municipality of Pakil, Laguna; Dr. KiSu Kim of the Institute for International Development Cooperation and Yeungnam University; and Dr. Roderick M. Rejesus of North Carolina State University talked about local governance, community development, and extension Work, respectively. Dr. Ainul Jaria Maidin of the International Islamic University of Malaysia, session discussant, recognized the importance of balancing acts in governance when it comes to health and economic activities. Holistic development programs post COVID-19 that are based on the lessons learned from years of development research should be in place.

Meanwhile, the parallel and organized sessions covered various topics such as Organizations and Institutions, Policy Review, Education and Remote Learning, Effects of the Pandemic on Livelihood, Technology Innovation and Adoption, Health and Well-being, and Natural Resource Management and Sustainability to name a few. Overall, there were 120 paper presentations, 86 in parallel sessions, and 44 in sessions organized by SUCs and research and extension organizations.

Finally, a special partnership meeting led by Dr. Lapitan was also held during the third day of the conference. Four breakout sessions were set up – Policy, Leadership and Governance, Community Innovations on Sustainable Resource Management, Agricultural Policy and Sustainability, Quality Education – where representatives of SUCs and non-government institutions exchanged ways of finding opportunities to work together (i.e., research collaborations) in the new future. Some of these representatives were either alumni or partners of CPAf and UPLB in past endeavors.

Never be the same

Despite the setup to which CPAf had to adapt to, ICGD2 is a testament that an institution can find ways to move forward and show resilience in the struggles the COVID-19 pandemic created. Dean Rowena DT. Baconguis in her closing remarks noted how the new future will never be the same. Despite the hurdles currently being faced, she said that the conference served as an encouragement that it is possible to move forward through “sharing of learnings that can help development actors create a better world post pandemic.”

ICGD2 succeeded in its goal to bring together key stakeholders from the academe, research, and non-government organizations and give them an opportunity to share ideas and recommendations to prepare for future disruptions. CPAf aims to leverage this achievement, sustain the connections created, and bank on the ideas exchanged for better development strategies until the next conference in 2023.

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Samantha Geraldine De los Santos
University Researcher at CPAf