Dr. Weena Gera receives the 2018 Gro Brundtland Award during the Week of Women in Sustainable Development from Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Tang Prize Foundation and NCKU President Huey-Jen Jenny Su at NCKU, April 3rd.
Endorsed by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, granted by Tang Prize Foundation and organized by NCKU, the Gro Brundtland Week of Women in Sustainable Development commits to engage outstanding female researchers for public health and sustainable development. It empowers an international platform for collaboration and partnership of female researchers in Taiwan and developing countries.
Dr. Gera is Assistant Professor of Governance and Development in the Political Science Program, College of Social Sciences at the University of the Philippines Cebu, specializing in the evolving structures of governance and their development implications on fragile states, particularly within Asia and the Pacific. She takes immense pride to be receiving an award that bears the name of a globally respected and admired leader, Dr. Gro Brundtland, the pioneer of sustainable development vision that continues to be used as the framework for global decision-making on environmental, social and economic development policy.
Her study examines the implementation of tripartite co-regulation in sustainability monitoring of the coal mining industries in the Philippines and Indonesia. Her findings indicate regulatory capture of monitoring mechanisms by patrimonial interests within the states, creating disincentives for sustainability performance among coal mining corporations.
This regulatory capture stems from the ambivalence of legal frameworks that fragments intergovernmental allocation of regulatory authorities and complicates monitoring systems.
Thus the tri-partite co-regulation could not integrate structures of industry self-regulation and could not institutionalize standard processes for legitimate civil society representation. The study signifies the prevailing pitfalls in both countries’ co-regulation frameworks that are anchored to soft policy instruments by multilateral initiatives and reporting mechanisms, such as the Open Government Partnership initiative, that could not enforce binding sanctions to non-accountability.
Despite scientific evidences of coal’s hazards and dangers to planetary and human health, the coal mining industry is poised to endure particularly with the rising demand in Asia and the developing regions. The use of coal remains central to capital accumulation. Thus, how the industry is managed and regulated, especially in countries with noted weak regulatory capacity by the state, pose critical implications on sustainability. This study contributes to present and future stocktaking of appropriate frameworks for business regulation, particularly the ‘tripartite co-regulation/multi-stakeholder regulation’ to foster collective industry regulation in the midst of state weakness.
The Philippines and Indonesia are two of the leading global suppliers of minerals and ores and hosts to large-scale coal mining industries. However, both were ranked as among the world’s ten worst governments in the Fraser Institute’s Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2016 Policy Perception Index. How the governments arrange institutions and collaborations to regulate mining industries, including mining monitoring to enforce industry and corporate accountability, pose critical implications on achieving sustainable energy and extractive sectors.
UNDP (2014) notes that sustainable development requires a new approach to address the political, not just the technical, aspects of development solutions. It also requires that public officials account for their actions and that mechanisms for collaboration are generated across sectors and promote inclusion.
Her research has examined appropriate policy interventions and governance arrangements that can effectively steer industries and businesses towards sustainable operations beyond compliance of environmental standards. In the context of weak/patrimonial states such as the Philippines and Indonesia, governance specialists would have to rethink about the use of legally non-binding soft policy instruments and voluntary mechanisms of prevailing global multilateral initiatives in enforcing industry accountability and sustainability performance.
Dr. Gera concludes that designing intervention and incentive systems beyond the state that could well integrate and maximize the benefits of private regulation by the industry will be required, as well as institutionalize mechanisms for legitimate civil society representation, to warrant high levels of accountability from public regulation.
“In the Philippines, the female researchers and scientists are as competitive as their male counterparts in terms of scientific productivity,” commented Dr. Gera. “We do share the same access to institutional incentives available, at least based on my professional experience. I should say though that there remain structural barriers depriving many Filipino girls from getting the quality education and scholarship that could give them the agency to be competitive in their chosen profession, if they could choose a profession at all.”
2018 Gro Brundtland Award得主Gera Weena博士來自菲律賓，開心獲獎之餘，她謙虛表示，在永續發展上的微小貢獻獲得肯定，不但具啟發性且鼓舞人心，很高興能與世界各領域做出貢獻的女科學家們共聚一堂。「獲獎提醒自己莫忘更大責任，將在工作上不斷追求卓越，促進包容性發展和社會正義。」
Dr. Gera 感謝前主管聯合國大學全球衛生研究所副所長 Obijiofor Aginam 博士提名並支持她參獎，也感謝他促進主導全球健康和永續發展治理的奉獻，鼓舞人們變強，並把握機會加強回應社會邊緣化族群的需求。
Dr. Gera 的研究考察了三方監管的實施情況，作為監測菲律賓和印尼煤礦行業永續發展表現的手段，主要研究議題是各國在開放政府夥伴聯盟（Open Government Partnership，OGP）框架內永續能源和開採產業的共同監管結構，以及如何加強產業和企業問責制，包括影響該機構的因素，以及國家、產業和民間社會代表共同監督當局的界限。
Dr. Gera 的研究主要在幫助制定適當的政策，以確保產業對永續發展的責任。在監管能力薄弱的國家，如何管理和監管對該產業的永續性產生重要影響。Dr. Gera 指出，菲律賓和印尼是全球煤礦主要供應商，也是OGP創始成員國，該組織倡議以具體策略實現問責和透明的跨部門合作，確保獲得可負擔、可靠與永續的能源，並且在永續發展的管理框架內，發揮最大的非政府組織監控的潛能。
Dr. Gera 認為，適度的政策干預和治理安排，能有效引導產業和企業走向超越環境標準的永續營運，關鍵在於了解具體國家監管機構相對於產業與民間社會組織的政治背景和能力。設計干預和激勵制度，充分整合並最大限度地提高產業私人監管的效益，並制度化合法民間社會代表機制，以保證公共監管的高度問責性。
Dr. Gera 表示，菲律賓女性研究人員的科學生產力與男性研究人員相比更具有競爭力，「我們確實享有更多更好的獎勵。雖然研究和出版過程需要很長時間，但是對我這樣的單身女性來說，教學和任務也是相當具有挑戰性的」。