Australian Embassy, The Asia Foundation, DOST-PCAARRD join forces to transform research scientists to policy reformers 
August 31, 2023

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA— Twenty-eight learners. Six policy advocacy teams. Four weeks. One hybrid learning course.  

From May to June 2023, the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, The Asia Foundation (TAF), and the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), partnered to conduct the first-ever hybrid course on Development Entrepreneurship: 12 Keys to Successful Policy Reform. DE is an approach that uses entrepreneurial principles to introduce policy reforms for transformative change. Open to learners from all over the world, the program has seen over 400 learners from 22 countries graduate from the course since 2021.  

The first cohort of the DE hybrid course was comprised of six policy advocacy teams from the University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR), College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf), and School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM). TAF’s Coalitions for Change (CfC) Leadership Development Team designed the four-week hybrid course based on the DE online course, but enhanced it with onsite learning sessions for participants to come together and learn in person.  

The first batch of learners and their projects are: (1) Almaciga Team: Advocating Science-based Policy Reforms for the Sustainable Production and Consumption of Non-Timber Forest Products in the Philippines: The Case of the Almaciga Resin Industry; (2) DIP Lab Team: Development Innovations and Policy Laboratory: Capacity Building Toward Innovative and Inclusive Policymaking for Development in the AANR Sector; (3) FMR 2 Team: Assessment of Policy Constraints to the Effective and Efficient Conduct of Public R&D in the Philippines; (4) Project LEAD Team: Policy Advocacy for the Adoption of Ecotourism as a Local Sustainable Development Solution for Laguna de Bay’s Resource Use and Management; (5) R4D: PESO SWaP Team: Payment for Ecosystem Services Outcome for Sustainable Water Provision in Barobbob Watershed, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines; and (6) WILUP Team: Policy Advocacy for Enhancing the Science of Integrated Land Use Planning using Watershed Integrated Area Land Use Planning and Watershed Ecosystem Management Framework.   

Here is the rundown of activities held at the R.D. Guerrero Hall, DOST-PCAARRD, Los Baños Laguna: 

May 8, 2023: Welcome Session  

Dr. Ernesto O. Brown, DOST-PCAARD’s Socio-Economics Research Division Director, welcomed the participants and highlighted the Council’s strong commitment to science-based policy reforms that drive progress in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources sectors. He acknowledged that pursuing policy reforms remains challenging and expressed confidence in the course’s ability to assist advocacy teams. 

In his opening message, Mr. Thanh Le, Development Counsellor of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, described the DE approach as “adaptive, iterative, and effective in pursuing meaningful reforms.” He also highlighted the value of education and the investment of the Australian Government in development programs that build the capacity of local leaders and organizations in the region.  

Mr. Rene Sanapo, Leadership Development Team Manager of TAF-CfC, added that the course is designed to enhance the reform strategies of DOST-PCAARRD’s policy advocacy projects by introducing the DE principles and concepts while also strengthening the advocacy competencies of the project teams. He discussed the course chapters, and oriented the teams on how to conduct the group discussions and complete the competency surveys.  

May 22, 2023: Technical Workshop Session  

The technical workshop session was a venue for the participants to learn, develop, discuss, and improve their respective theory of change (TOC), coalition maps, and political action plans. Ms. Krisza Lorrain “Krish” Enriquez of TAF-CfC and Mr. Filomeno “Men” Sta. Ana of Action for Economic Reforms (AER) were the session’s panel of mentors.  

The workshop was divided into two major topics: (1) Theory of Change and Measures that Matter, and (2) Coalition Mapping and Political Action Plan. Following the lecture, breakout sessions and consultation with the mentors, the learners proceeded with their TOC development and writeshop. The teams then presented their outputs, to which the mentors shared their feedback and recommendations.  

Ms. Mia Barbara DV. Aranas, SERD Policy Analysis and Information Management Unit (PAIMU) Head, concluded the session with her closing remarks, suggesting that the session’s outputs can be used in enhancing their reform strategies. 

June 5, 2023: Commencement Ceremony 

Addressing the learners, Dr. Reynaldo Ebora, Executive Director of DOST-PCAARRD, said the institution “aims to push for policy reforms that will drive progress to the Philippine agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources sector.” He shared that DOST-PCAARRD began developing its policy reforms portfolio in 2020 covering critical areas such as coastal and marine resources, the sustainable use of lakes and watershed governance, and other specific AANR (agriculture, aquatic and natural resources) industries and financial management for research and development. “As we continuously work on our advocacy initiatives, I am excited to see the transitioning of our teams from research scientists to policy reformers,” he added.  

Dr. Moya Collett, Deputy Head of Mission of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, reiterated the Australian Government’s support for the program. “Australia and the Philippines share in the belief that through science, technology, and innovation, we can ensure that resources are used sustainably and contribute to national development. We share your vision of improving Filipinos’ access to safe and nutritious food, and ensuring small farmers and fishers have sustainable livelihoods. The Australian Government is pleased to be investing in development initiatives that will achieve these objectives.” 

Mr. Sam Chittick, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation, also congratulated the learners as they prepare to embark on their respective policy reforms. “The six research teams that you are a part of makes this a different exercise because you are grounding your learning and reflections in something that you’re directly working on. The longer-term horizon in the next 20 to 30 years will be determined in large part on how the country can sustainably harness its agriculture, aquatic and natural resources for the greater good. I know this is at the core of what PCAARRD does in terms of your research orientation. We are grateful to have a partnership with people who are bringing the science and technology, but also that sustainability lens.”  

A representative from each project team shared their experiences and key takeaways from the DE hybrid course. Most said that Development Entrepreneurship taught them how to deal with communities, tap networks, maximize opportunities and “just start,” one of the key DE principles. Ms. Ricel Banayos of Project LEAD shared “we are not used to talking to officials, talking to the communities. We are more inclined to work inside the four corners of our office. Learning how to deal with communities and making them more receptive to our reform is something that I’ve learned in this workshop.” Adaptability was another learning that resonated with the participants: Dr. Maria Kristina Alinsunurin of FMR 2 Team sharing that the team “entered this training room thinking that maybe adaptive management has incompatibilities with the characteristics of public institutions—the flexibility of public institutions. But we realized that principles like making small bets, for example, have been very important. We realized that our stakeholders were also trying to make small bets on how to improve the procurement process,” and Ms. Marielle Baliwag of the R4D PESO SWaP Team sharing “Of all the principles that we have applied, I think that one idea that from us is that there will be changes [expect and exploit surprises], there will be changes in the environment, there will be surprises. But we can control how we adapt and how we react to these changes.” The participants also identified sustainability, political feasibility, and influencing the future as some of the key challenges they may face in pursuit of their policy reforms. 


Leave a Reply