The empowerment of in-country partners by international scientists to study local socio-ecological problems makes CCRES special, John Pontillas says.
As project development officer in the Office of the Executive Director – Special Concerns at the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), John coordinates a team running focus groups with coastal communities in the Philippines for CCRES.
“As part of the implementing arm of the CCRES project,” says John, “We’ve been trained by great scientists in the rigours of doing research and reporting the findings,” he says.
“Another special characteristic of CCRES is the use of systems mapping and modelling for the analysis of key ecosystem concerns. This approach provides a non-linear analysis within and between the different ecosystem components, and between ecosystem components and the socio-economic system.”
Johns’ employer, the PCSD, one of CCRES’ project partners, is responsible for the governance and implementation of, and formulation of policy directions for, the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan, the province where the CCRES pilot site is located in the Philippines.
John’s role at the PCSD involves inspiring everyone in his team to be happy, productive and give their best. Considering the scope of work the busy team delivers for CCRES, in addition to its regular functions for the PCSD, this is no easy task.
“The CCRES project provides a new platform and perspective on understanding communities and their environment and for the communities to do the same. It also offers a new way of mainstreaming ecosystem services to local communities and harnessing these to capture the benefits by way of innovative interventions, including local enterprises that address problems in ecosystem use,” John says.
John is no stranger to managing technical projects such as the CCRES project. He is coordinating similar projects, such as the Philippine Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (PhilWAVES), in Palawan.
John says the PCSD views these projects as experimental initiatives, not yet for full roll-out and thus are at what he describes as the “knowledge incubation stage”. His unit acquires relevant knowledge and assesses their potential for application in Palawan.
He considers forums and conferences as opportunities to share his ideas and the findings from the research in which he is involved. His co-authorship of research papers in journals has achieved well-deserved recognition among colleagues and professionals.
Perhaps what makes John most proud, however, is seeing former staff under his guidance finding their place in the wheels of government, exhibiting excellence and independence in ideas, and adopting high moral ethics in their work.
Clearly, empowering people by building their capacity is close to John’s heart. To quote his favourite passage from the Bible: “To those much is given, much is expected.” (Luke 12:48)
For more details, contact:
John Francisco A. Pontillas
Office of the Executive Director - Special Concerns
Palawan Council for Sustainable Development
Puerto Princesa City 5300
Mobile +63 917 5531917