Around the University TownSU visiting researcher talks about ‘degrowth’

SU visiting researcher talks about ‘degrowth’


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A visiting researcher from the Australian National University stressed the importance of finding alternatives to a zero-waste future instead of using waste-to-energy solutions like pyrolysis machines in a lecture at the Silliman University campus.

Joseph Edward Alegado, visiting researcher and a doctoral student in Resource, Environment and Development at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, spoke on Rethinking Alternative Development in the Philippines: Zero-Waste Community Sites as a Case of Degrowth which aims to understand the prospects and challenges for degrowth in places like Dumaguete or Siquijor.

Some of these 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.

He said these can also be macro-level, community-directed changes that look at waste from a whole life cycle approach — like organizing movements founded on environmental justice principles, analyzing material flows and questioning the effects of capitalism, and bottom-up participatory processes from the barangay, 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.

It asks whether economic growth is  sustainable and interrogates the colonial roots of “development.” It also recognizes and critiques the direct structural relationships between the Global South and the Global North, 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 .”

The lecture was hosted by the Research & Innovation Office (formerly Research and Development Center) led by Dr. Enrique Oracion, the Mariano Lao Global Studies Center, and the SU Institute of Environmental & Marine Sciences spearheaded by Dr. Jorge Augustin Emmanuel.

Other institutional partners included the School of Public Affairs & Governance, the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Business Administration, War- on-Waste Negros Oriental, the SU Student Government Environment Committee, and the Zero-Waste Youth- Negros Oriental.

“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 the Province,”Alegado said when asked what educational institutions can do.

“People listen to them [the academe]. 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,” said Alegado.

Alegado’s lecture could not have come at a better time. January is International Zero-Waste Month, and non-profit organizations like the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, which endorsed Alegado’s lecture, continue to offer practical solutions to combat the challenges of waste management and environmental protection. This year, GAIA’s theme is #ChooseReuse: A Pathway for a Just Zero Waste Future.

Alegado first came to Dumaguete and Siquijor in October last year to conduct his fieldwork, interviewing locals and City and community officials. Among the communities he visited are the five zero-waste barangays in Dumaguete (Looc, Piapi, Bantayan, Calindagan, and Banilad), and selected barangays in all six municipalities in Siquijor. (Aaron Jalalon/SU OIP)



Photo Caption: Visiting researcher Joseph Edward Alegado (center) is flanked by climate change youth activist Joshua Villalobos, Research & Innovations Director Dr. Enrique Oracion, Julianne Marie Yamamoto-Alegado, and Dr. Jorge Augustin Emmanuel of  the SU Institute of Environmental & Marine Sciences.


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