November 9, 2021

The three R&D centers run by the DOST help the UN achieve its development goals.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) unveiled three Niche Centers in the Regions (NICERs) on Monday to promote the UN’s Sustainable Cities and Communities goals.

“Through these NICERs, the DOST is providing possible R&D (research and development) interventions that will enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization, reduce the adverse environmental impact of cities, decrease economic losses caused by natural disasters, and develop holistic policies and community plans,” DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said in a virtual symposium in support of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Guevara claimed that the Rizal Technological University (RTU) Center for Astronomy R&D has trained over 500 young scientists in the field of astronomy and space science in senior high schools and colleges in the NCR, as well as developing the Pollution Luminance or Pollux device to monitor light pollution.

The center would develop a local policy for local government units based on these R&D efforts, she added, in partnership with the Philippine National Police, to reduce light pollution and energy consumption in cities and improve lighting in crime hotspots.

The Mountain Engineering R&D Center of the University of the Cordilleras (UC) in Baguio City was also showcased for the mountainous communities.

The center offers research and engineering solutions to help people avoid landslides and serious flooding.

According to Guevara, collaborative water resource management and governance will save an estimated PHP200 million per year in infrastructure damage due to mountain landslides, enhance agricultural production of rice terraces by 20%, and provide 2 million Cordillerans with sustainable clean water.

Another NICER is the University of the Philippines Cebu’s Environmental Informatics R&D Center in Central Visayas, which will benefit the country’s forests and farming regions.

According to Guevara, the center has started working on a Cebu biodiversity atlas and has used microcontroller-based sensor devices to track mango pests and diseases.

It has also created species distribution maps for 103 native species of flora and fauna, published biodiversity threat maps to track human settlement pressures on biodiversity richness, and generated surface water maps and groundwater potential maps for 46 Cebu municipalities, all to aid in the rehabilitation and reforestation efforts of the Central Cebu Protected Landscape.

“We hope that our NICERs’ remarkable efforts to bring scientific progress to their regional communities will inspire the business sector to do R&D that is aligned with the region’s economic needs,” Guevara added.

She stated that the DOST expects that these measures will encourage higher education institutions to do more research and development projects aimed at improving the lives of Filipinos.

“The DOST wants for these to strengthen industrial sectors’ technological capabilities, assist domestic technology commercialization, and build a suitable climate for industrial diversification and competitiveness in the regions,” she added.

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