In line with Shell’s advocacy to help address the challenge of energy, water and food resource stresses – or what is called the “stress nexus” - through innovative solutions and collaborative action, Shell signed a Memorandum of Agreement with De La Salle University (DLSU) to support the establishment of a Water Research Centre (WRC), which aims to be the ASEAN Centre of Excellence on Water Research.

The WRC will provide services such as water access technical solutions to local government units (LGUs), water use efficiency for both business and government sectors, water safety and water policy research. Putting research into motion, the partnership aims to generate ways in making the country more water resilient for today and the future.

According to Shell companies in the Philippines Country Chairman Edgar Chua, who has recently been appointed as Water Alliance Chairman by the Philippine Business for Social Progress, energy, water and food are the world’s most vital resources and where public, private and civil society sectors need to collaborate in order to make the country more resilient.

Increased vulnerability to the water challenge

Water is essential to human life and the adequate supply of fresh water is under threat from many directions: population growth, climate change and environmental pollution.

Over the years, water has become an increasingly scarce resource, especially in highly populous cities in Asia. Water stress is expected by many experts to be one of the most critical global environmental issues of the 21st Century. Critical to survival, water is in fact being regarded as the world’s next battle ground.

The more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events seen in recent years brought about by climate change has increased the vulnerability of island and archipelagic countries like the Philippines that are now more frequently hit by super typhoons. The Philippines ranks 2nd on the World Risk Index 2014 for extreme natural events.

“The most important need of any community that has been hit by a catastrophe is water,” said Chua, who emphasized how addressing water resource challenges can help the country become more disaster resilient. In the aftermath of a disaster, immediate access to drinkable water is the most critical during emergency relief assistance.

The Shell and DLSU partnership is among the initial collaborations under the Powering Progress Together (PPT) initiative of Shell. The PPT is a series of global events led by Shell that gathers thought leaders from different sectors around the world to engage in dialogue on the energy-water-food stress nexus, climate change, sustainability and resilience. One of the most important goals of the PPT is to pursue partnerships among the public, private and civil society sectors to address the nexus with on-the-ground actions.

“Climate change is a global issue which we would like to be able to address not just locally, but to provide solutions for Southeast Asia in the long run,” said DLSU Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Dr. Raymond Tan, who welcomes the partnership with Shell on water resilience.

Venue for knowledge-intensive innovation

The DLSU WRC aims to serve as a pool of knowledge relating to the efficient, safe and equitable provision of fresh water for various human activities in the face of climate change and natural resource limitations.

According to Tan, DLSU is evolving from being more than a university, embracing the need to go full-fledged research where they “generate more knowledge relevant enough that it could leave the walls of the classrooms and reach out to people who need it”.

Reiterating the great need to address the water challenge, DLSU OIC President and Chancellor Br. Dennis Magbanua FSC guaranteed that DLSU will make it its mission to turn the goal into a realization and will remain committed in making the endeavor successful.

Collaborating for national resilience

The DLSU WRC will be under the De La Salle Food and Water Institute that will be located at the new De La Salle Science and Technology Complex in Biñan, Laguna. The La Salle system’s size, with educational institutions located across the globe, can contribute to making the project successful.

“I am excited about this partnership. I believe that this is only the start; the true intention is to bring in more partners and make this project truly collaborative,” said Chua, who hopes more organizations take the initiative to join the endeavor for water resilience that could ultimately lead to a more sustainable future for the country.