Overseas Pinoy Scientist in China: An “Evangelist” for Disaster Risk Reduction

dr Glenn F. Fernandez, a 2021 Pamana ng Pilipino Presidential Award recipient, had personal reasons for specializing in disaster preparedness and management.

His coastal hometown in Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur, was hardest hit by the 1976 Gulf of Moro tsunami. It was the deadliest and deadliest disaster in Philippine history before Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated virtually the entire Visayas in 2013.

2021 Pamana ng Pilipino Presidential Awardee Dr. Glenn F. Fernandez with CFO Undersecretary Abdulgani M. Macatoman (left) and Former Attorney General Secretary and Chairman Francisco P. Acosta (Ret.) (right) during the PAFIOO awards ceremony at the Manila Marriott Hotel, Pasay City on June 29, 2022

Glenn decided to only learn from the best, and Japan is among the world’s leading scientists in disaster studies. With a scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Education (Monbukagakusho), he completed his postgraduate studies in Environmental Management (with a specialization in Disaster Risk Management) at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, which is consistently ranked among the world’s top universities.

In line with his goal of finding ways to help the Philippines, a country constantly plagued by natural disasters such as typhoons, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, Glenn has conducted several studies that would help the government and people better manage disasters Understand and prepare for them effectively and efficiently. He also conducted other related research that would benefit Asian countries and the region as a whole.

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His research included “Business Continuity Management into the Curricula of Business Schools in the Philippines”, “Reviewing Five Decades of Japan’s Science Diplomacy in Southeast Asia”, “Developing Capacity for Post-Typhoon Disaster Waste Management in Coastal Cities in Fiji and the Philippines” , “Mangrove (Tsunami Bio-Shield) Monitoring and Remediation by Youth Councils”, “Is Tsunami Tendenko (Indigenous Japanese Tsunami Evacuation Strategy) Applicable in Other Countries?” “Tsunami Risk Perception and Tsunami Evacuation Strategies in Pagadian, Philippines”, “Participation of youth in the recovery of Marawi, Philippines after the 2017 armed siege”, “Strengthening disaster and climate resilience of small and medium-sized enterprises in Asia”, “Youth Council Involvement in Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction in Infanta and Makati, Philippines”, “Youth Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction through Science Clubs in the Philippines”, “Climate Change Edu cation in the Philippines, Climate and Disaster Resilience Initiative: Capacity-Building Program, and Climate and Disaster Resilience Initiative: Metro Manila.

Mr. Fernandez during the 5-day trainers' training course on rehabilitation and conservation of mangrove and beach forests, conducted by Zoological Society of London (ZSL) - Philippines

Mr. Fernandez during the 5-day trainers’ training course on rehabilitation and conservation of mangrove and beach forests, conducted by Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – Philippines

As the titles suggest, he not only examined the effects of the catastrophe itself, but also considered ways for future catastrophes that could be made less destructive since they could not be prevented.

He examined how mangroves, important breeding grounds for marine life, could protect coastal areas from the full force of a tsunami and how youth could actively participate in disaster risk reduction. In the face of increasingly inevitable climate change, including global warming, melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, he has conducted research on climate change education, capacity building to increase resilience to climate change and disasters, and how to contribute to disaster and climate change resilience can of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), which account for more than 90 percent of the country’s business activities.

Another study looked at how youth could take an active part in rebuilding Marawi, once one of the country’s most beautiful cities, which still lies in ruins after fierce armed fighting between government forces and rebel groups in 2017.

His various research and capacity building projects have been presented at several international academic conferences, training activities and workshops. They have been published in scientific journals. The recommendations emerging from his research have been discussed in policy considerations and incorporated into disaster risk reduction plans and, most importantly, into local disaster risk management measures.

Glenn is the Founding President of U-INSPIRE Philippines and is now one of his mentors. U-INSPIRE is the new Asian platform for youth participation and leadership in disaster risk reduction (DRR). It was founded in 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia with the help of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and now has 12 active chapters in the region.

He is also a leading advocate for evidence-based youth participation in DRR in the Philippines and across Asia.

Over the past 10 years he has actively contributed to the DRR Youth Participation Scholarship and has published one book, three journal articles, nine book chapters, a Disaster Education Handbook, a Masters thesis and a PhD thesis.

Glenn has been an Associate Professor at the Institute for Disaster Management and Reconstruction (IDMR) at Sichuan University – Hong Kong Polytechnic University since 2018. He developed the IDMR research program on the role of youth organizations in disaster resilience and institutional research and education collaborations in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

He is the central person for IDMR research on Business Continuity Management (BCM), Disaster Waste Management and Science Diplomacy. He also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to disaster management and recovery.

Glenn is a junior researcher with the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Program (IRDR) funded jointly by the International Science Council (ISC) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

In 2018 he became a Fellow of the Japan Foundation Asia Center (JFAC). In 2019 he was invited to be one of the section editors of the journal Progress in Disaster Science published by Elsevier.

Glenn previously worked as a researcher at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) in Bangkok, Thailand; the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies (GSGES) at Kyoto University in Japan; Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC), World Bank Tokyo Office; and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Section, UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.

Since 2009, he has been a senior researcher, coordinator or researcher in numerous international research and capacity development projects (most of which concern the Philippines) related to disaster risk reduction. He uses funds from international donors for his DRR research and capacity development projects in the Philippines.

By presenting the Presidential Pamana ng Pilipino Award to Dr. The President recognizes Glenn F. Fernandez for his outstanding contributions to disaster risk management and for being the leading advocate of evidence-based youth participation in disaster risk reduction in the Philippines and Asia.

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