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Glenn Suerte Felipe Banaguas: The Unsung Filipino Climate Hero

AWARDEES. Filipino scientist and diplomat Glenn S. Banaguas (front row, 4th from left) is among those honored during the United Nations’ Sasakawa Award 2022 for building resilience through a multi-hazard approach. (Photo from UNDRR)

There is no denying that our home is slowly dying.

From global warming to the decreasing state of biodiversity, climate change poses many threats to human beings.

No matter how hopeless this may seem, we are not helpless owing to this climate hero in action who has been instrumentalizing science for service.

Glenn S. Banaguas is a renowned Filipino scientist and diplomat who committed a life’s work in developing an array of evidence-based policy solutions to not only lessen the vulnerability but also increase the resilience of communities, especially the marginalized sectors, against climate change.

With his outstanding people-centered approach to environmental challenges, he became the first Filipino individual to join the esteemed roster of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) fellows.

Also known as the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, RSA is an organization in London that seeks to build a transformative global network of changemakers to transcend world-leading ideas into world-changing actions.

RSA has been building on a 260-year legacy of driving relevant social change by uniting innovators as diverse as Nobel Prize laureates Nelson Mandela and Marie Curie, social critic Charles Dickens, philosopher Karl Marx,  agricultural scientist George Washington Carver, World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, United States founding father Benjamin Franklin, and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking whose great minds pioneered revolutionary inventions that capacitated and benefited the mankind.

To be conferred with the RSA fellowship means that Banaguas imbibed its organizational vision and commitment to a resilient, rebalanced, and regenerative social change where humans do not merely survive but progressively thrive in the ever-changing ecological landscape.

His notable contribution to the scientific community that brought him to luminary is the Environmental and Climate Change Research Institute (ECCRI) which he founded in order to foster a mass-oriented understanding of science and policy among the poorest communities and marginalized sectors in the country.

In this regard, he launched the Climate Smart Philippines as the flagship program of ECCRI which is a capacity-building avenue for climate change stakeholders where they can pool scientific knowledge to plan, develop, and implement strategic approaches to reduce disaster risks as well as prevent potential damage and losses to the ecosystem.

Aside from spearheading this cutting-edge research project on a national level, Banaguas also shares his expertise on a regional scale by chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Science and Technology Fellows and serving as a Climate Diplomat of the European Union (EU)-Asia Expert Panel for Climate Diplomacy and Environmental Security.

In 2022, Banaguas was named as one of the six (6) 2022 United Nations Sasakawa Laureates for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) from over 200 nominees worldwide which is also a first for Filipinos.

This adds to the honor he has brought to the Philippines as the first science diplomat to receive an executive fellowship to the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GSCP), a Switzerland-based international peace and security training foundation that recognized his humanitarian work for the Filipino people.

Beyond recognition, the enormous achievement of Banaguas as a representative of the Filipino scientific community echoes our country’s position in addressing the pressing environmental issues and puts forward the national climate action.

With him as a role model of a responsive social change, the duty of protecting the environmental health of the planet becomes a commitment to the future.

About the Author

Susan De Leon

Assistant Regional Head

National Capital Region

Current Officer-in Charge of PIA-NCR

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