This year’s Seminar-Conference on Public Sector Productivity organized by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), in partnership with the Asian Productivity Organization (APO), underscored the need to combine agility and innovation in enhancing public sector productivity in the new normal.

Held on 18 November 2022, the seminar-conference tackled innovations and technological advances that could help the public sector deliver more and better services while integrating lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The hybrid event gathered 55 participants onsite and thousands virtually. Participants from APO member economies, specifically from India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, Republic of China, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Türkiye, also attended the event.

DAP President and Chief Executive Officer Atty. Engelbert Caronan, Jr., in his welcome remarks, mentioned the need for the public sector to apply innovation and big picture thinking to help ensure sustainable development.

In this keynote address, Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairperson Atty. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles stressed the need for the public sector to embrace innovation. He added, “The future belongs to the most agile organizations which are willing to accelerate and embrace new possibilities presented by technology and paradigm shifts.”

The first half of the event gave a local perspective on public sector productivity and featured the following speakers: Secretary Renato U. Solidum, Jr. of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST); and Director Ma. Christina V. Abalos-Naig of the National Planning, Policy, and Standards Bureau – Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). The second half of the event, which was the Conference proper, provided a global perspective on public sector productivity and had the following speakers: Undersecretary Maria Francesca M. Del Rosario of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM); Ms. Julia Bosse, Consultant for the European Institute of Public Administration; Mr. Alexander Heichlinger, Co-founder and CEO of GovInsight; and Dr. Kim Schumacher, Associate Professor in Sustainable Finance and ESG at Kyushu University.

In his closing message, Mr. Armand Tristan Suratos, APO Liaison Officer for the Philippines, explained how the uncertainties can be turned into opportunities to adopt new ways of thinking in the public sector.

Regulatory processes set frameworks and boundaries in which individuals, firms, and organizations can and should act within.

As the national productivity organization of the Philippines, the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) believes in the importance of the government playing an active role in the enhancement of productivity and establishment of a regulatory environment that will allow businesses to thrive while consequently ensuring the protection of public interest.

DAP contributes to the smarter public sector initiative of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 through its Center for Governance (CFG) and Productivity and Development Center (PDC). The Academy serves as the policy think-tank and capacity-building arm to regulators in the government sector to uplift and sustain their quality and efficiency standards to be at par with the international regulatory standards.

Making regulations more relevant and coherent

The DAP’s Modernizing Government Regulations (MGR) Program is a regulatory reform initiative that aims to make broad-based improvements in national productivity and competitiveness by examining regulations and identifying possible regulatory governance reforms. Specifically, the MGR Program aims to contribute to the national government’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business in the country by developing mechanisms that would make regulations more relevant and coherent, and identifying specific measures to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden on specific industries. Once achieved, regulatory quality and coherence will be a stimulating factor in improving the overall business and investment climate in the country.

To help the Philippine government in its regulatory improvement initiatives, the MGR Programs developed tools and systems for the use of regulatory agencies and local governments. The Program developed the draft Regulatory Management System (RMS), which is a standard guideline for developing systems and tools for regulatory improvement.

For its regulatory review studies, in consultation with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the MGR Program focuses on regulations covering government-to-citizen, government-to-business and government-to-government transactions that affect the productivity of sectors/industries with the end-goal of streamlining unnecessary rules and reducing compliance costs borne by the government, from administering and enforcing regulations, as well as the transacting public.

The MGR Program’s capacity-development component focuses on capacitating regulators on the adoption of Good Regulatory Practices such as the conduct of Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA), on how to utilize RIA as a tool for evaluating the costs and benefits of proposed and existing regulations. With clear information of the benefits of regulation, RIA also encourages compliance by strengthening the legitimacy of regulatory proposals thereby improving the effect of regulation and ease the cost of enforcement for the government and compliance for the businesses.

The MGR Program has also released regulatory reform publications as part of its initiatives to increase awareness and contribute to the adoption of good regulatory practices (GRPs).

DAP Guidebook on Regulatory Impact Assessment for the Public Sector

The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the Public Sector 1st Edition was primarily developed for the use of regulation authorities tasked to create, develop, and manage regulations. RIA ensures the quality of regulatory proposals by critically measuring their positive and negative effects through a rigorous, well-defined, and evidence-based analysis.

DAP Guide on Stakeholder Consultation

Effective stakeholder consultation is fundamental in removing obstacles to improving regulation, such as establishing Regulatory Management Systems (RMS) and conducting RIA. Gaining a wider perspective can lead to better solutions and pathways to regulatory reform and development.

In various endeavors towards progress, stakeholder consultation promotes good governance, transparency, citizenship, and accountability. The publication of this guidebook seeks to enhance current government efforts in engaging its stakeholders.

DAP Guidance Note on Regulatory Cost Model on Compliance Costs

The estimation of regulatory compliance costs is a significant component of RIA as it provides key inputs in assessing regulatory options. Thus, as part of its MGR Program, the DAP initiated the development of the Regulatory Cost Model (RCM). The model facilitates a systematic approach in estimating regulatory costs of compliance and helps Philippine regulatory agencies be more informed in their formulation of regulations.

As the Philippine government endeavors towards the streamlining of its processes, the publication of this guidance note seeks to enhance current efforts in formulating simpler, smarter, and better regulations that ultimately benefit the economy.

DAP Benchmarking Study on Regulatory Management in Agri-Fisheries Sector

Food safety is a primary concern of every economy, the Philippines included. Food safety, together with consumer welfare and protection, are the primary bases for the regulatory processes imposed at each stage of the business development cycle for agri-food enterprises. However, no matter how good the intentions may be, how these regulatory processes are implemented and enforced may lead to unintended outcomes, defeating the very purpose of their formulation.

Performance assessment of the Philippines’ food systems regulation through participatory action research and benchmarking with more advanced food systems regulatory regimes yielded valuable recommendations to improve the overall regulatory management system in the agriculture and fisheries sector.

To get a free copy of these regulatory reform publications, visit


Development Academy of the Philippines (2018). Consumer Goods Regulatory Review. Modernizing Government Regulations Program Regulatory Review.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2018). Ensuring the safety of imported food.

Manalili, N. M., Ramos III F. A., Saliendres, M. D., Alvarez, A. D. (2020). Enhancing Regulatory

Management in the Agriculture and Fisheries Sector: A Benchmarking Study (Implications for Food Safety and Quality Regulatory Management System in the Philippines). Development Academy of the Philippines, PRP Printing.

Morales, R. (2013). Philippines. In Banking regulation 2013 (pp. 135-139). Law Business Research.

DAP Modernizing Government Regulations Program releases regulatory reform publications | PDC

The Development Academy of the Philippines, as the country’s focal organization for the Asian Productivity Organization’s Center of Excellence on Public-Sector Productivity (COE PSP), held a three-day webinar on Digital Transformation for Enhancing Public Sector Productivity on 5-7 October 2022. This webinar series aimed to provide the participants with an understanding of digital transformation and the different ways to strengthen government digital services to enhance productivity in the public sector. Two government digital initiatives were presented on the last day of the series.

Understanding digital transformation

Mr. Rey Lugtu of the Hungry Workhorse, explained that digital transformation is an integrated, cohesive, and strategic way of transforming the whole organization. He added that digital transformation is a set of strategic actions to accelerate businesses, practices, processes, competencies, and models by fully leveraging on the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact in a strategic and prioritized way, it is not merely changing one component of an organization but the whole of the organization.

Mr. Rey Lugtu of the Hungry Workhorse explains the concept of digital transformation.

In talking about the organization, a Digital Transformation Framework is observed to define the organization in these major components: the operations and business models, the offering (product performance and systems), the customers, and culture and people. Once these components are understood, capabilities to build will be recognized. Only then digital technologies can be identified and applied to achieve digital transformation.

Responding to one of the questions raised during the webinar, Mr. Lugtu said, “We can’t simplify the process, it is what it is… If we look at digital transformation in a simplistic manner, you will invest in technology without reaping the rewards of that technology. It is something we cannot do haphazardly. It has to be done methodically, deliberately; it has to be well-planned.”

Strengthening government digital services

Dr. Erika Fille Legara, a data scientist and professor at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), emphasized that we are in the fourth industrial revolution where the cyber or digital system marries the physical system. She added that the government needs to invest and digitalize its services. Proper use of technology would help the government create public value through efficient and accessible digital services. The public can be assured of efficient distribution of financial assistance by government institutions given the right data. Greater transparency and inclusivity will also be ensured by going digital.

Dr. Erika Fille Legara discusses how government public services can be more enhanced and transformed with data and digital technology.

Looking into the Philippine Digital Strategy Vision, Dr. Legara highlighted some key points that the government is improving to strengthen digital transformation in the country. As the bedrock of digitalization [and artificial intelligence], the government is building up its digital infrastructure  to be reliable, robust, scalable, and accessible.

In her discussion, Dr. Legara said “every Filipino and every government office must have an internet connection.” She noted that the internet today is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Dr. Legara, however, mentioned that the government must ensure that its citizens are protected and secured in the cyberspace should it decide to open its systems and data to the world wide web.

Another key aspect of the government’s strategy discussed during the session is digital literacy. Dr. Legara emphasized that the government must partner with the industry and the academe to promote digital and data literacy for all. She added that Filipinos should be taught how to behave online to be safe, and how to make advantage of the internet to learn more and identify misinformation. Lastly, she noted that learning and development programs on data and technology must be provided to government employees as well.

Pioneering digital transformation initiatives in the public sector 

For the third day of the series, two successful digital initiatives in the government were presented: Digitize Dulag (Digi-Du) of Dulag, Leyte which won the “Best in eGOV Data-Driven Governance” (D2G) category of the Digital Governance Awards (DGA) in 2019, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Digital Transformation in Financial Services.

Hon. Mildred Que, with her team (bottom photo at the right), explains Dulag’s successfully implemented digitization project called Digitize Dulag.

Hon. Mildred Joy Que, a lawyer and the incumbent mayor of Dulag, Leyte, presented on their municipality’s fully-integrated computerization project. Digitize Dulag by the Municipal Government of Dulag, Leyte was developed to intensify transparency, accountability, and internal control in different aspects of their local government’s functions. Built with an online office software, Digi-Du is a comprehensive system that utilizes information and communication technology and data science. It has helped enhance the local government’s system for collection and payment of taxes, disbursement of payroll, and application for permits such as business permits. 

From the Technology Risk and Innovation Supervision Department of BSP, Director Melchor Plabasan first expounded the core mandates of BSP that aim for price stability, financial stability, and efficient payment systems. He also discussed BSP’s advocacies, including financial inclusion.  In advocating for financial inclusion, BSP wants every adult Filipino to “have access to safe, convenient, and affordable financial services and own a transaction account that he/she can use on a day-to-day basis.”

BSP is developing its programs to expand to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and startups by building a sustainable and more vibrant financing ecosystem. There have also been initiatives to establish credit infrastructure and standardize business loan applications to make it easier for the stakeholders.

Director Melchor Plabasan, speaking for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, discusses the agency’s advocacy for financial inclusion.

BSP’s 2021 data revealed that there was an increase in ownership of financial accounts, and a shift in the people’s reference on mode of payment due to the pandemic restrictions. About 60% of the country’s population now uses digital and online channels for payment or money transfers. To further democratize financial accounts, BSP has made possible the creation of basic e-money accounts for financial institutions that would only need a few requirements.

The participants raised concerns on data privacy and security during the webinar. Dir. Plabasan mentioned that the government is in efforts to promote digital literacy to the public and conducts programs to strengthen financial education and consumer protection in the country. He also stressed the necessity for the policy on SIM card registration to be implemented.

This webinar series is available for replay on Facebook and YouTube. Stay tuned for more webinar series in the coming months.

With the fast-paced technological development and changing times and environment, the government has been finding different ways to address the needs and demands of the citizens. From 26 to 30 September 2022, the Development Academy of the Philippines, through the Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity, conducted the Designing Citizen-Centered Public Services workshops at the DAP Conference Center in Tagaytay City.

The workshops aimed to equip the agencies with the proper knowledge and skills to increase productivity by providing new ways to improve their systems and processes to serve the citizens better. The participants who attended are from the following agencies and institutions: Department of Science and Technology – Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII), Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Book Development Board (NBDB), Rizal Medical Center (RMC), Quirino Memorial Medical Center (QMMC), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Philippine National Railways (PNR), and Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO).

Learning new ways and tools for innovation

The participants were given materials to study in preparation for the workshops and lectures, which focused on understanding clients’ experiences and how it can be further improved through different concepts and tools, such as the client journey map. The initial sessions have provided them the opportunity to analyze their own data and identify issues and pain points, which can be further improved in the workshops through the process of ideation.

A lecture was also given on the use and the different types of prototyping. The workshop on creating an idea sheet, prototyping, and designing a user test has helped the participating agencies to consolidate their ideas. The user testing was also conducted during the five days, wherein they were able to get insights and perspectives not just from the speaker but from their co-participants to improve their prototypes better.

From ideas to ways forward

To put into action the ideas and plans created through this training workshop, the participants went through identifying the next steps to implement their productivity projects, how to measure productivity gains, and pitch their projects to their respective agencies.

Towards the end of the workshop training, Dr. Edmund Cedric A. Orlina from Rizal Medical Center expressed his gratitude on how they can now introduce innovations in their workplace, which involves several steps or a process that they were able to learn and appreciate through the DCCPS program. Dr. Alma Gay Concepcion T. Amado, also from Rizal Medical Center, mentioned how they came into the training with a specific problem in mind but are now ready to return to their respective offices with different tools and strategies on how to address the problem.

The Development Academy of the Philippines, as the country’s focal organization for the Asian Productivity Organization’s Center of Excellence on Public-Sector Productivity (COE PSP), held a two-day webinar on Productivity Initiatives to Improve Service Delivery in the Local Government on August 31 and September 2, 2022. The webinar aimed to present initiatives by local government units (LGUs) to enhance service delivery and productivity, as well as provide insights on the various challenges from conceptualization to implementation in local government.

Improving barangay interoperability

The first day of the webinar featured the presentation of LGU-Barangay Connect (LB Connect), a productivity initiative of the Municipal Government of Loon, Bohol. Ms. Maricris Maestrado, Project Development Assistant from the Office of the Mayor of Loon, presented the background of the project and its key developments, such as improving resource allocation, interconnectivity, and data sharing between the municipal government and its component barangays. She said it has now become an efficient monitoring tool for tracking the barangays’ fiscal and financial responsibilities. Two key success factors for the project were the enhancement of internal control measures to improve good governance and the introduction of a program that is inclusive and applicable for all personnel.

Ms. Maricris Maestrado from the Loon LGU presents the LB Connect project.
Using data for disaster risk reduction and planning

The second day of the webinar showcased the Guagua Geographic Information System (GGIS) and Magallanes’ Community Based Monitoring System (CBMS). These two systems are currently being utilized in planning, monitoring, and evaluating different programs and projects that their respective municipalities are taking.

EnP. Elsa Perez-Pantino presents the Guagua Geographic Information System.

Ms. Elsa Perez-Pantino, Municipal Planning and Development Officer with the Municipal Government of Guagua, Pampanga, discussed the initial issues and concerns that spurred them to pursue the GGIS. Aside from disaster risk reduction, the project is also being used in land tax management and comprehensive land use planning. Ms. Pantino urged other LGUs to implement their own GIS by engaging the necessary human resources and ensuring the accuracy of data captured as geographical information is helpful in terms of decision-making for project implementations. Despite being a long-term undertaking, a GIS initiative can be possible with the support of their local leaders.

Mr. Roilan Reyes talks about the Community Based Monitoring System (CMBS), a project developed by the Municipal Government of Magallanes, Cavite.

Mr. Roilan Reyes, Municipal Planning and Development Officer from the Municipal Government of Magallanes, Cavite, followed with a discussion about how CBMS was designed to address the lack of data for poverty reduction in the town by collecting, processing, and validating data for the municipality’s planning, implementation, and monitoring, while also engaging and empowering communities. Information from the CBMS is now used to guide the creation of official plans for disaster risk reduction, barangay development, and tourism development, among others. It has also been useful in implementing disaster relief and assistance during the 2020 eruption of the Taal Volcano and the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Reyes motivated the viewers by highlighting that despite Magallanes, Cavite being a 4th class municipality, they were able to set up a CBMS that has already served a wide range of purposes.

This two-day webinar is available for replay on Facebook and YouTube. Stay tuned for more webinar series in the coming months.

Innovation Laboratory Aims for Value Chain Enhancement and Cross-Cutting Innovations

Concluding its 6th year of aiding the nation in spreading the innovation culture, the Public Sector Productivity Innovation Laboratory (PSP-InnoLab) focuses on pursuing partnerships, sectoral innovations, and value chain enhancements. Since the program’s launch in 2016, PSP-InnoLab has capacitated more than 140 agencies and 400 participants with 29 innovation projects implemented. The program now sets sail to the next phase of its roadmap, so PSP-InnoLab focuses on achieving a wider reach and more meaningful outcomes.

In 2022, aside from creating a wider pool of innovation facilitators, new activities and concepts will be executed and integrated into the various program offerings of InnoLab. Cross-pollination of learning and interagency collaborations will be the main ingredients in ensuring that cross-cutting innovations focusing on value chain enhancements will be fostered. Furthermore, the program components will integrate into its course designs, activities that promote identifying and realizing meaningful productivity gains in conceptualizing and implementing innovation activities.

Opening the year with capacitating DAP in-house facilitators, the PSP-InnoLab has also mobilized activities for the Masterclass on Co-Creation Innovation Process and the Boot Camp on Innovating the Public Sector. Aside from these regular offerings, an Innovation Sharing Activity was conducted last June 29, 2022. Furthermore, implementation and scale-up activities will be launched to strengthen existing projects through sustainability efforts.

For more information on the PSP-InnoLab offerings for 2022, inquiries may be emailed to — Adrian A. Ramirez

The DAP Center for Governance-Policy Research Office held last August 25 the fourth installment of the Capability Building on Innovative Leadership for Legislative Staff (CBILLS) Program’s Thursday Talks: Webinar Series on Socio-Political and Economic Perspectives, which tackled government restructuring and reform through a webinar titled “Rightsizing the Philippine Bureaucracy.”

The webinar explored the intentions and implications of the proposed National Government Rightsizing Program (NGRP) in enhancing the government’s institutional capacity to perform its mandate and provide better services through speakers from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the Department of Budget and Management, the University of the Philippines, and IBON Foundation.

Dr. Charlotte Justine Diokno-Sicat of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies presented the Philippine experience in public sector reform and emphasized that rightsizing may result in improved efficiency and delivery of public goods and services if these efforts are grounded on economic principles and are conducted across national government agencies, and considered the changing needs of client citizens.

Atty. Maria Paula B. Domingo of the Department of Budget and Management discussed the salient features of the proposed National Government Rightsizing Program (NGRP) and provided policy recommendations on the challenges encountered in rightsizing efforts introduced in the previous Congress.

Panel discussants Dr. Maria Lourdes G. Rebullida of the University of the Philippines and Jose Enrique A. Africa of IBON Foundation both shared their insights and analyses on the scope and potential impacts of rightsizing efforts in the light of the current Philippine bureaucracy and offered policy recommendations that would ultimately enhance government capacity in fulfilling agencies’ respective mandates and effectively addressing citizens’ needs.

The livestream of this event can be accessed through the Policy Research Office Facebook Page at

The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) held a webinar on Public Sector Productivity Concepts and Tools last 22-24 March 2022 as the first installment of this year’s of Public Sector Productivity (PSP) Webisodes, a year-long initiative to raise awareness on productivity and innovation topics in the public sector through the virtual space. Speakers for the three-day webinar were Director Samuel Rosal of DAP’s Technology Management Office, Director Mary Ann Vilchez of the Internal Audit Service of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Niña Marie Estudillo, an Asian Productivity Organization (APO) productivity practitioner, technical expert, and trainer.

Director Rosal opening the webinar series with his presentation.

Understanding the concept of productivity in the public sector

The webinar started with an overview of productivity, as Dir. Rosal aimed to provide the participants with a foundation of the concept. He defined productivity as a “formula between the quantity of output versus the quantity of input in the production process,” and it is seen as “a ratio between the goods and services produced versus the resources such as labor, materials, machinery, and energy.”

He then expanded the discussion from productivity to effectiveness, which looks at the ratio of outcomes to inputs, instead of looking at just the ratio of outputs and inputs (i.e., productivity). Crucially, he notes that outcomes are different from outputs in the sense that the dimension of outcomes is more significant.

Dir. Rosal also framed productivity in the public sector as the capacity of an organization to fulfill the desired societal outcomes as mandated in the most efficient, effective, and economical management of public goods and services provided. He pointed out that public servants work hard to achieve goals and desired outcomes to purposefully benefit their clients—the citizens—especially since the resources that make the public sector run actually come from them.

Productivity Improvement Project (PIP) as a tool for improving public sector productivity

On the second day of the webinar, Dir. Vilchez focused on the importance of a productivity improvement project (PIP) as a tool for improving public sector productivity. She introduced the PIP as the final output of trainees from the Developing Public Sector Productivity Specialist (DPSPS) course by the APO which focuses on drawing out from the trainees “practical and effective ways of utilizing the knowledge gained from the course.” She further explained that “a Productivity Improvement Project is an organized, comprehensive, and long term intervention that involves the use of innovation to enhance and sustain high productivity levels and performance of organizations or target systems.” The PIP can even be considered an innovative tool because it is something that has not yet been done, or at the very least, an improvement of what is already being done.

Dir. Vilchez discussing an actual project implementation document.

Competencies of a productivity specialist

To conclude the webinar series, Ms. Estudillo shared the competencies of a productivity specialist, which she defines as a highly skilled individual whose work concentrates primarily on applications of productivity-related solutions and activities in consultancy, training, promotion, and research assignments. Given this definition, a productivity specialist’s roles in productivity improvement initiatives are as a promoter, a consultant, a trainer, and a researcher.

Ms. Estudillo explaining the different roles of a productivity specialist.

A participant asked, “How is a PSP specialist placed in an organization—is it under HR, internal audit, or a separate team? What specifically is his or her role in an organization?” The speaker did not specify any level in the relative hierarchy or structure of an organization, but she did mention that while there is no widely accepted job description for one yet, a PSP specialist’s role is to encourage change to achieve a more effective and efficient system.

This webinar series is available for replay on Facebook and Youtube. Stay tuned for more upcoming webinar series in the coming months.

The growing adoption of fast innovation in public services has become increasingly prevalent since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of 2020. This is indicative of a potential shift in the public service model from being reactive to being proactive. The following trends related to the public sector that can help decision-makers craft national strategies and navigate an uncertain future toward achieving global sustainable development goals.

Post-COVID Fiscal Rules: A Central Bank Perspective
Source: European Central Bank

This paper provides a simulation analysis for the euro area and individual countries to assess the short- and longer-term budgetary and macroeconomic implications of a move to a two-tier system with an expenditure growth rule as single operational indicator linked to a debt anchor. In particular, providing additional fiscal accommodation in a low inflation environment would enable monetary policy to operate more effectively, especially in the vicinity of the effective lower bound, thereby improving the synchronization of fiscal and monetary policies.

Read more 

Governments Need Agile Fiscal Policies as Food and Fuel Prices Spike
Source: International Monetary Fund

Just as increasing vaccinations offered hope, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted the global economic recovery. One of the most visible global effects has been the acceleration of energy and food prices, triggering concerns about episodes of food shortages and increasing the risks of malnutrition and social unrest. Economies worldwide have accumulated layer upon layer of legacies from past shocks since the global financial crisis. In response to the pandemic, extraordinary fiscal actions led to a surge in fiscal deficits and public debt in 2020.

Read more

South Asia Sees Slower Growth as War in Ukraine Impedes Recovery, Worsens Existing Challenges
Source: World Bank

South Asia has faced multiple shocks in the past two years, including the scarring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. High oil and food prices caused by the war in Ukraine will have a strong negative impact on peoples’ real incomes. Given these challenges, governments need to carefully plan monetary and fiscal policies to counter external shocks and protect the vulnerable while laying the foundation for green, resilient and inclusive growth.

Read more

6 Ways Indonesia Can Green Its Infrastructure Pipeline
Source: Southeast Asia Development Solutions

With 65% of Asia’s infrastructure projects not considered bankable and with the clock ticking to deliver on their net-zero goals, countries like Indonesia are under pressure to line up green projects that would attract investments from the private sector. A new report from Climate Bonds Initiative, an investor-focused not-for-profit that promotes large-scale investment in the low-carbon economy, said greening Indonesia’s infrastructure pipeline could be accelerated by key policy and institutional changes.

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Malaysia launched its Roadmap Towards Zero Single-use Plastics
Source: Asian Productivity Organization

The APO recognizes the diverse, unique strengths of its members and offers opportunities for mutual collective benefit through the Individual-country Observational Study Mission (IOSM) Program to tap each other’s strengths to inspire and guide the development of strategies, policies, and action plans for new initiatives and evolving ideas that are critical for development. Malaysia launched its Roadmap Towards Zero Single-use Plastics, 2018–2030, to create a cleaner, healthier environment by 2030. The government is seeking to address plastic pollution through a holistic approach in an environmentally sound manner, taking into account the public interest, readiness of the industry, and sustainability.

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Measuring Costs and Benefits of Citizen Science

Today, citizen science is on the rise with bigger projects that are more ambitious and better networked than ever before. And while collecting seawater samples and photographing wild birds are two well-known examples of citizen science, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to new data collection techniques enabled by the internet, smartphones, and social media, citizen science is evolving. Increased connectivity encourages a wide range of observations that can be easily recorded and shared. The reams of crowd-sourced data from members of the public are a boon for researchers working on large-scale and geographically diverse projects. Often it would be too difficult and expensive to obtain this data otherwise.

Read more 
AI in Education: Lessons for Schools in a New Era
Source: GovInsder

The UK government turned to AI to predict students’ grades during the pandemic when students couldn’t complete exams in person. But the algorithm was scrapped after it disproportionately marked down students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Creating strong regulations and ensuring teachers are on-board are two steps that schools can take to ensure classrooms in adopting AI smoothly. Addressing these concerns will help schools realize AI’s potential for personalizing learning. At the recent AI x GOV summit, public sector officials and education experts gathered to discuss the responsible and ethical adoption of AI in schools, and what this technology can bring to the learning environment.

Read more 

Solar-Powered Radios, Tablets, Wi-Fi Sets to Enable Distance Learning in Remote Schools in Philippines
Source: Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) turned over to the Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd) the last batch of tablets, solar-powered transistor radios, and other information technology (IT) equipment as part of its $2.4 million in grant support for distance learning among secondary school students from poor and disadvantaged families in remote areas during and beyond the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The support is financed by technical assistance grants from ADB and the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific under the EdTech Solutions for Last Mile Schools in COVID-19 program.

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US-ASEAN Business Council, USAID, ASEAN launch SME Academy 2.0 to support ASEAN Economic Recovery
Source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Aiming to reach more micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and help accelerate their businesses recoveries, SME Academy 2.0 introduces many new features including courses available in local languages (Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, and Vietnamese), new attractive visual design features, and top-quality resources including specific modules for COVID-19 recovery. ASEAN SME Academy 2.0 also offers MSMEs self-certification opportunities, provides access to the SME Community and Academy Facilitators and integrates a seamless interface across both desktop and mobile platforms. The COVID-19 recovery tab focusing on contents specific to support MSMEs’ recovery from the pandemic will be launched in Q3 2022. Overall, the primary goal of the Academy is to provide a platform for ASEAN MSMEs to develop their digital skills.

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IMO’s Work to Cut GHG Emissions from Ships
Source: International Maritime Organization

IMO adopted the first set of international mandatory measures to improve ships’ energy efficiency on 15 July 2011. In the past decade, IMO has taken further action, including further regulatory measures and adopting the Initial IMO GHG strategy. To support their implementation IMO has been executing a comprehensive capacity building and technical assistance program, including a range of global projects. The Initial GHG Strategy includes a series of candidate short-, mid- and long-term measures, building on already-adopted mandatory energy-efficiency requirements for ships.

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Police Surveillance and Facial Recognition: Why Data Privacy is Imperative for Communities of Color
Source: The Brookings Institution

Governments and private companies have a long history of collecting data from civilians, often justifying the resulting loss of privacy in the name of national security, economic stability, or other societal benefits. But it is important to note that these trade-offs do not affect all individuals equally. Surveillance and data collection have disproportionately affected communities of color under past and current circumstances and political regimes. In this paper, we present the case for stronger federal privacy protections with proscriptive guardrails for the public and private sectors to mitigate the high risks associated with the development and procurement of surveillance technologies.

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The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), through its Productivity and Development Center (PDC), in cooperation with the Asian Productivity Organization (APO), successfully hosted the Conference on Urban Agroecology and Food Security last 9 September 2021, via Zoom and YouTube Live.

Attended by 55 participants from Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Japan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Philippines, and viewed by 75 YouTube observers, the virtual conference was graced by esteemed guest speakers including the Philippine’s Agriculture Chief, Secretary William D. Dar, and the new APO Director for the Philippines, NEDA Undersecretary Jose Miguel R. De La Rosa. The DAP Officials also took part in the virtual event including its President and CEO, Atty. Engelbert C. Caronan, Jr., Senior Vice President for Programs, Ms. Magdalena L. Mendoza, and Vice President and PDC Managing Director, Mr. Arnel D. Abanto.

Welcome remarks by NEDA Undersecretary Jose Miguel R. De La Rosa, APO Director for the Philippines

The APO Director for the Philippines, Usec. Jose Miguel R. De La Rosa, in his welcome remarks, pointed out that efforts to ensure food security must be complemented with building a resilient and sustainable urban food production system, and while urban agriculture may not solve the complex and interconnected dilemmas in the food system, it has the potential to contribute to food security among urban dwellers.

In the keynote presentation of Secretary William D. Dar, he underscored the global impacts of COVID-19 to the agriculture sector including disruptions in food supply, labor shortages, reduction in job quality, food wastage, affected livelihoods, price spikes, and increased price volatility, among others. While the global health crisis may have sparked an enthusiasm in urban agriculture, it has become increasingly clear that sustaining it is just as important. He also encouraged the attendees to consider the online conference as an excellent opportunity to exchange views, collaborate, and reforest the existing knowledge base about the sustainability of urban ecology.

Aside from the valuable insights of the esteemed guest speakers, brilliant and adept international and local resource persons provided the participants with informative presentations.

Food Security and the Role of Urban Agroecology/Agriculture in a Global Context  was presented by Mr. Kit Chan of K-Farm Sendirian Berhad Malaysia. He emphasized that in order to address food emergencies and food security crises, there should be short-term and long-term measures. Short-term interventions entail a) providing fiscal support to lower food import tariffs and taxes, b) reviving rural financial systems, and c) declaring food production, marketing, and distribution as essential services to keep trade corridors open, among others; while long-term measures involve a) regenerating and increasing food system incomes, b) building early warning systems, and c) promoting climate-resilient productivity growth, to name a few.

Next to present was Dr. Hironori Yagi of the University of Tokyo, who discussed the  Sustainability of Urban Agriculture for Post-Pandemic Society, the Sustainability and Persistence Theory, as well as, the urban agriculture-related empirical researches and the impact of the pandemic on the sector. Dr. Yagi stressed the importance of drastic policy changes especially during the “new normal”, and inter-linkage of normative sustainability evaluation and empirical persistence investigation to validate multiple information, enhance resource base, and further facilitate an interdisciplinary approach towards sustainable urban agriculture. 

The third topic discussed by Ms. Diah Meidiantie of PT. Hydrofarm Indonesia was Policies and Resources Support to Help Urban Agriculture. It underscored the important references for agriculture policy-making which include sufficient needs-based community assessment guided by availability, access, and safety as primary attributes towards improving the quality of the environment and empowering the community to achieve its goals in relation to food security.

The last topic on Best Practices of Urban Agriculture and Strategies for Implementation was presented by Dr. Rosana P. Mula of the Agricultural Training Institute. She shared the best practices of urban and peri-urban (UPU) agriculture. These involve establishment of UPU community/school gardens, capability development activities, provision of urban agriculture starter kits, information, knowledge sharing and communication services, market linkages, and partnerships and collaborations.

The high-level presentations were followed by a Panel Discussion which was facilitated by Dir. Gerald Glenn F. Panganiban of the DA’s Urban Agriculture Program. Trigger questions from the resource persons ultimately spurred the interest of the participants and viewers to raise discerning questions that were acknowledged accordingly during the discussion.

DAP Senior Vice President Ms. Magdalena L. Mendoza highlighted in her closing remarks that amid the health crisis and natural calamities, it is even more timely to collaborate and strengthen support to farmers and consumers while promoting self-reliance among people in producing foods that can be grown at home. She also mentioned the significance of exemplifying urban agriculture through a variety of technologies that may be adopted in the community or at home such as hydroponics, vertical gardening, green alley, and UPU agriculture.

The sought-after conference is one of the 2021 virtual programs of the APO assigned to the DAP-PDC Productivity Development Research Office anchored on the goal of promoting innovative approaches across all sectors of the economy and bolstering the institutional infrastructure crucial to sustained productivity improvement especially amid the pandemic.  For more information, visit, or email  

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