Its been seven years already since I came across my first technology transfer project on climate change mitigation. Anaerobic biodigesters at that time, was seen as a major force in methane capture and waste to energy as part of the Clean Development Mechanism or CDM. The Philippines was seen as having a very large potential due to the widespread practice of microscale pig farmers which is embedded in our Filipino culture. Also, the concept and projects have taken off in Thailand and had been earning enough from emission trading schemes.
So what happened after seven years? Not much really but of course there was the camaraderie developed among the trainers and project implementers. Though the funding from the US EPA has somewhat died down.
When a technology is transferred, how do you sustain it? How do you localize it, how do you make it a point everyone will work on it with a common goal in mind?
This is the best time to write about Gina Lopez. She has been my favorite subject matter for a few years now ever since that fateful first impression at the Development Academy of the Philippines seven years ago. “What is DAP?” she haughtily asked, that bravado kind of turned us off, given her limited knowledge of those working for a government think thank. How come she doesn’t know what we do, what is our purpose and mandate. I think that meeting was merely using the facilities of DAP. We were looking for funding and we were thinking she would be a good benefactor for sustainable development projects and policies.
I have no idea what was the outcome of that meeting but fast forward to 2017, we meet again at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. I’m writing this at my temporary space at the DENR compound a few days after her rejection by the commission of appointments as DENR Secretary.
Her leadership approach was totally unconventional but at the end of it all what can we learn from it? I have encountered people from the entire spectrum of for and against her, I don’t want to comment on that, I respect their stance. The last blog I wrote on her was the fact that people compare me to her given my educational background in environmental science. I remember my early years in UPLB when former classmates perceive our presence in the university as merely farming, similar to that, environmentalists are like Gina Lopez, which is totally stereotypical.
How about people who have worked all of their lives at the DENR, particularly the Environmental Management Bureau, are they environmentalists, or are just government employees working for the environment. The public will judge not only Gina, but the DENR itself, but after her 10-month stints, some thing will totally change drastically.