ON Wednesday, June 22, 2022, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – Science for Change Program (S4CP) won the 2022 United Nations Public Service Award (UNPSA) in the category “Enhancing the effectiveness of public institutions to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)”. This international recognition demonstrated the program’s excellence in serving the public interest through government-academe-industry collaboration approach.
The UNPSA is the most prestigious international award for excellence in public service. Since 2003, it rewarded the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions. This year, UN received 350 applications from 58 countries and there are 10 winning initiatives this year.
Science for Change is a program implemented by the DOST-Office of the Undersecretary for R&D in cooperation with the DOST-Undersecretary for Regional Operations and DOST Councils. S4CP’s framework enabled it to achieve 11 UN Sustainable Development Goals through the implementation of its four sub-programs, namely: Niche Centers in the Regions (NICER) for R&D, Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE), Business Innovation through S&T (BIST) for Industry Program, and RDLead Program.
After five years of implementation, S4CP institutionalized a total of 43 NICERs or R&D centers in 17 regions in the country, with Php 2.3 Billion approved grants distributed to higher education institutions. S4CP catalyzed 86 partnerships between the academe and research and development institutions (RDIs), and industry, involving 36 academic institutes and RDIs and 88 industry partners, including micro-small-to-medium enterprises (MSME). Funding for CRADLE partnerships to solve problems of companies amounted to Php 396.6 M approved grants. BIST financial assistance for technology acquisition of local companies reached Php 43.3 Million. Lastly, RDLead Program funded 65 RDLeaders with Php 59.91 Million approved grants in 63 host institutions.
“Science for Change provided an enabling platform for government, academe and industry collaboration to engage in R&D to foster inclusive innovation and sustain industrialization in pursuit of socio-economic development,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña.
DOST Undersecretary for R&D Rowena Cristina L. Guevara is the Program Leader of the S4CP. According to Usec. Guevara: “Efficient government service implemented through Science for Change is intended to accelerate regional development, thereby providing scientific solutions to food security, ensuring good health and well-being of all Filipinos, providing affordable and clean energy, supporting innovation and industrialization, ensuring sustainable cities and communities, sustaining climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as protecting both the country’s marine and terrestrial resources.”
“This prestigious award for the Science for Change Program corroborated what we’ve already confirmed in the past summits, that the program and its contributions are vital to the country’s development and growth with focus on the countryside. This international recognition should open doors for more engagements and partnerships with the private sectors for us to continuously enhance the capacities of our local government units, academe, and industry collaborators. We at the DOST – Regional Operations are filled with pride and joy with the S4CP’s achievement, and we will continue to banner the program in regional offices nationwide,” said DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Sancho A. Mabborang.
One of the projects that have created a significant impact is the NICER on Seaweed of Mindanao State University – Tawi-tawi College of Technology and Oceanography (MSU – TCTO) based in Bongao, Tawi-tawi. The problem being solved by the project is to improve the quality of seaweed being generated by the community and sold by local traders. The NICER on Seaweed is working to optimize the seaweed value chain and create and promote a commercially sustainable cultivated seaweed industry in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The project aims to improve income opportunities of both harvesters and traders and support the economic development of Tawi tawi, Mindanao and the entire country. To date, the NICER on Seaweed was able to convince seaweed farmers to stop the use of chemical fertilizers as these fertilizers do not increase the amount of carrageenan in the seaweed and the practice is harmful to the environment. By the end of the year, the NICER on Seaweed will distribute clean seaweed planting materials to contribute to the increase in the income of seaweed farmers.
Watch the full virtual celebration at https://publicadministration.un.org/en/UNPSA2022.
The DOST-S4CP will also hold another virtual press conferences on June 24, 2022 at 10 AM featuring the DOST Regional Offices and the impact of S4CP in Northern Luzon, NCR, Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Interested parties may watch the live broadcast via the DOST-S4CP Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dost.s4cp.