Filipino Scientist Wins United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction

Filipino scientist and diplomat Glenn S. Banaguas was recently conferred the United Nations’ Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction, besting over 200 nominations worldwide—unprecedented in the award’s 35-year history. The award is bestowed on institutions, groups, and individuals that promote inclusive and resilient approaches to disaster risk reduction in line with the UN’s Sendai Framework. The main theme of the 2022 competition is “Building Resilience through a multi-hazard approach.”

In 2010, Banaguas spearheaded the creation of Climate Smart Philippines under his leadership at the Environmental and Climate Change Research Institute. The flagship program brought together scientific experts and stakeholders to tackle disaster risks and prevent potential damage and losses from climate change and other hazards besetting the Philippines.

“I extend my thanks and gratitude to the organizers of the UN Sasakawa Award for recognizing Climate-Smart Philippines’ efforts to empower people from all walks of life to develop evidence-based, humane, and gender-responsive solutions,” Banaguas said on receiving the award, which was conferred at an official ceremony Bali, Indonesia, on May 25, 2022.

This is the first time that a lone Filipino has won in the Award’s 35-year history. Also honored this year was Save the Children-Philippines, which won the award in the Organization category. Previous Philippine honorees include the City of San Francisco in 2011 and the ESCAP/Typhoon Committee in 1988.

Prior to receiving the Sasakawa Award, Banaguas earned a name for himself as a prolific scientist, diplomat, educator, and leading expert on environment, climate change, and disaster risks in Asia. He is also a strong and vocal advocate of science-based policy solutions. He is the youngest of The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Laureate, which he earned for his pioneering work in environmental conservation and science diplomacy. He is also an Outstanding Young Scientist awardee, conferred by the National Academy of Science and Technology, and the Asia Leaders Awardee for Sustainable Leadership.

The 2022 Sasakawa Award, held under the theme, “Building Resilience through a multi-hazard approach,” recognizes the changing global landscape in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2019, the UN Sasakawa Awards have recognized the world-changing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing economic and social impact on millions of people around the globe. These lingering effects, in addition to climate change, ecosystem degradation, and other risk drivers, underscore the inter-connectedness of disaster impacts across countries and social strata. In such a multi-hazard world where everyone is affected by disasters, disaster risk management remains an urgent global challenge. Thus, the Sasakawa Awards recognize distinguished efforts to promote inclusive and resilient approaches to disaster risk reduction through the Sendai Framework.

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