SU visiting researcher discusses zero-waste initiatives,  degrowth

Joshua Villalobos – environmental-climate change youth activist, Dr. Enrique Oracion – Research and Innovations Office director, Joseph Edward Alegado – SU visiting researcher and his wife, Julianne Marie Yamamoto-Alegado, and Dr. Jorge Augustin Emmanuel – IEMS adjunct professor (l-r)*

The importance of finding imperatives for a zero-waste future was stressed by
Joseph Edward “Jed” B. Alegado, Silliman University (SU) visiting researcher and a Ph.D. candidate in the Resource, Environment and Development Group at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University (ANU).

Alegado delivered a lecture titled, “Rethinking Alternative Development in the Philippines: Zero Waste Community Sites as a Case of Degrowth”, at the SU Dr. Mariano and Lina Lao Hall on Wednesday, January 24, a press release from Silliman said.

His lecture is part of his ongoing Ph.D. research in ANU, which aims to understand the prospects and challenges for degrowth in the Philippines in places like Dumaguete and Siquijor.

The zero-waste initiatives, Alegado suggested, involve not only individual lifestyle changes – from bringing eco-bags when running grocery errands, using reusable straws, to proper waste segregation at home – but also macro-level, community-directed changes that look at waste from a whole lifecycle approach.

He cited organizing movements or alliances founded on environmental justice principles, analyzing material flows and questioning the effects of capitalism, and bottom-up participatory processes from the barangay, city, and the provincial levels while upholding the ideals of democratic participation.

Alegado also talked about the concept of “degrowth,” which he said stems from a fundamental recognition that economic growth entails pushing the boundaries of ecological limits.

With degrowth scholars proposing “equitable downscaling of production and consumption that increases human wellbeing and enhances ecological conditions at the local and global level, in the short and long term”, he said.

The lecture was hosted by the Research and Innovation Office (formerly Research and Development Center) under director Dr. Enrique G. Oracion, the Dr. Mariano Lao Global Studies Center under director Dr. Dave E. Marcial, and the Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences spearheaded by adjunct professor Dr. Jorge Augustin Emmanuel.

Dr. Earl Jude Paul L. Cleope, Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), also spoke about the importance of institutional and personal partnerships, acknowledging “the valuable contributions visiting researchers make to the academic community” as a way “to affirm our collective dedication to the pursuit of knowledge.”

“I believe that higher education institutions have a pivotal role to play in fostering this alternative thinking, especially in the development of the city and province,” Alegado said.

“People listen to them. Policymakers listen to them. They can bridge the gap between doing research on these issues and bringing these issues outside the so-called ivory tower,” he added.

More than 100 onsite and online (via Zoom) participants joined the event.*

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