Step Up Managing Consultant speaks at GDI Conference

GDI DIE Green and Social
Canares, Loewe, Perch, and Schafer in the panel on Effects of Poverty-Oriented Policies on the Environment

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting, was one of the few invited speakers in the recently concluded conference on Green and Social: Managing Synergies and Trade-offs at the Deutsche Well, Bonn, Germany last 12-14 March 2014.  The conference, jointly sponsored by the German Development Institute and the Poverty Reduction, Equity, and Growth Network (PEGNet), aims to bridge the gap between environmental and social perspectives on development. Mr. Canares represented the HNU Center for Research and Publication as editor of its academic journal, the Lumina.

Mr. Canares presented his paper entitled “Making Conditional Cash Transfers Green:  Opportunities for a Welfare and Environmental Agenda in the Philippines.” It looks at the potential and trade-offs of adding environmental conditions to the Philippine government’s cash conditional transfer program – the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, otherwise known as 4Ps.

He was in the same panel as Leisa Perch of the World Center for Sustainable Development in Brazil.  The panel was moderated by Markus Loewe of the German Development Institute while George Schafer of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) was the panel discussant.   According to one of the organizers of the conference, Carmen Richerzhagen, there were a total of 90 paper submissions received, and only 14 were accepted for presentation at the conference.

The conference was attended by roughly 200 people from all over the globe.  Marianne Fay, chief economist for sustainable development and climate change at the World Bank, and Ernst Ulrich Von Weizsacker of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) were the keynote speakers.

Step Up presents result of Open LGU Study to Bohol

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Step Up Consulting Services presented the result of its study “Opening the Gates: Will Open Data Initiatives Make Local Governments in the Philippines More Transparent?” or Open LGU Research Project in a Presentation and Validation Workshop held in the afternoon of February 25, 2014 at the MetroCentre Hotel and Convention Center. The research team, composed of Mr. Michael Canares, Ms. Mariejoe Narca and Ms. Jare Arawiran, presented to an audience of 40 representatives from different civil society groups and the government sector of the Province of Bohol, who were the identified stakeholders of Open Data, some of whom are among the respondents of the research.

The team presented its key findings highlighting, among others, that Bohol fully complies with the Full Disclosure Policy (FDP) of DILG by posting required governmental information in its website. Also, Bohol provides more information in its website about local governance affairs than what is required. For example, the province posts its Provincial Atlas, a collection of maps and other relevant information that is useful for decision-making processes not only for governments but also for investors in its website. However, Bohol only achieves five of the ten criteria for open data. Relevant governance data exists. The data is available in digital form. The data is available free of charge and is up-to-date and it is easy to find information on the data set. However, data cannot be reused as it is not machine readable. The budget files, for example, are in PDF and needs to be converted into other forms (e.g. Excel spreadsheets) to allow a user to analyse the data.

On the part of the citizen groups, most of the civil society groups are not yet aware of the existence of the FDP. Thus, the different organisations did not look for documents in the provincial government’s website. As a result, information provided by Bohol in its website is hardly used by citizen groupsThere are at least three reasons for this. First, they are not aware that the data exists in the website. Second, they are not interested with the information provided.  Third, even when the information is provided, they do not have the technical knowledge to understand and use the documents for their benefit.

The recent event earned as much enthusiasm from its audience as it did during the project launch in July this year. The activity did not only become a venue for the stakeholders / respondents to hear and validate the results of the study, it also gave the aud ience an opportunity to express their insights, hopes and commitments for a genuinely transparent governance.

The research team is set to do two separate provincial presentations in South Cotabato and Bulacan, the other two study sites and a national presentation for the three provincial sites in Manila within this quarter and the next of 2014.