Dr. Filemon A. Uriarte, Jr., president of the National Research Council of the Philippines, said that water, food, energy, and health are four “challenge areas” faced by local chemical engineers. He emphasized this during his plenary presentation in the 77th Philippine Institute of Chemical Engineers National Convention, held in Boracay, Aklan, last 18 February 2016.

 For water, chemical engineers should explore new ways of promoting process technology in securing viable industrial and municipal water supplies and in delivering sustainable water solutions, he said.

On energy, practitioners should address climate change by working towards de-carbonization and sustainable energy use; as well as increase the contribution from renewables by developing robust life cycle analysis; meanwhile promoting the fullest understanding of thermodynamics and energy balances for all proposed solutions.

Further, he said the development of processes and technologies to optimize the food supply and at the same time reduce waste is also where the profession would play a big role.

In view of the known link between health and consumption, professionals can also contribute to improving health and life expectancy through technologies, processes and systems for better sanitation, diet, housing and healthcare, among others, as well as work to secure better integration between the consumer products and pharmaceutical industries.

Dr. Uriarte also emphasized the applications of thermodynamics, and the concepts transport phenomena and systems approach to help address pressing issues on water, food, energy, and health.

His talk was within the context of “ASEAN integration” based on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) implemented in 2015. Its main objective and principle is a “single market and production base” that allow the free flow of goods, services, investments, skilled labor, and freer movement of capital between ASEAN nation members.

He also cited the opportunity for chemical engineers to obtain the title “ASEAN Chartered Professional Engineer or ACPE” that they may work in another ASEAN country, albeit collaboratively with its local engineers. This will be subject to set guidelines and regulations and that professionals should meet certain criteria as part of the assessment. ACPE is based on the Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) Framework set to mutually recognize education, professional competencies, and experiences across member countries for eight priority sectors, including engineering.

On the other hand, Dr. Uriarte also cited the insufficient mechanisms to ensure compliance and commitment by ASEAN countries to fully enforce accords and realize economic integration. Lastly, he said the Philippines now lags behind its neighbors in education as shown current world university rankings.