By Aria Soliven
July 9, 2018: Many of society’s most pressing issues require interdisciplinary, ingenious solutions. The call to provide communities with shelter that is both functional and environmentally sustainable is not exempt . The International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR) is an organization committed to forging international alliances for environmental sustainable development. With 43 member states and offices in Asia, Africa, and South America, its unique global impact lies in the organization’s ability to focus on the maximisation of bamboo and rattan with South-South cooperation. This perspective enables the organization to serve an extremely valuable purpose in the realm of sustainability, environmental protection, and community development. INBAR’s support for multiple Sustainable Development Goals and commitments of the Paris Agreement has consistently driven its endeavors in policy creation, education, and action research all over the world. With this, the organization is able promote the proper use of both bamboo and rattan in order to successfully respond to issues of poverty, climate change, and lack of quality housing today.
This year, INBAR founded and organized the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress (BARC) 2018; the first international conference on the potential uses of bamboo and rattan for sustainable development. The conference focused on policy-making and the theme “Enhancing South-South Cooperation for Green Development through Bamboo and Rattan’s Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals”. It hosted a myriad of government agency leaders, non-government organizations, policy makers, and experts from 68 countries all over the world. Delegates were given the opportunity to network with each other, immerse themselves in real-life applications of development in China’s bamboo industry, and participate in talks given by speakers with immense expertise.
Mr. Luis Felipe Lopez, head of research and development at Base Bahay, served as one of the speakers in this prestigious conference. According to Lopez, his presentation focused on a general overview of the original concept behind Base Bahay and how it has evolved into the non-profit organization it is today. He spoke about the relevance of bamboo on the traditions of Colombia (his native country) and the idea of applying these concepts to the Philippine environment. This was accompanied by conducting through research to “determine if local bamboo from the Philippines can be used [to build houses]”. When asked to reflect on his experiences as a speaker, Lopez emphasized on the interesting audience composed of people from all over the world. Though the conference’s content and structure was not very different from others, it was definitely the largest event on the promotion of bamboo.
Ms. Maricen Jalandoni, general manager of Base Bahay, was also present in the conference. She clearly describes her experience as an opportunity to see extremely relevant bamboo construction from all over the world. Though these were predominantly from South America and Asia, the process of being exposed to innovative bamboo practices (such as engineered bamboo, bamboo that is manipulated by fire, etc.) proved to be an in-depth opportunity to understand the overall potential of bamboo itself. “Bamboo is a material that can be used in so many ways.” she explains as she reflects on her key insight from the conference.
Both Lopez and Jalandoni agree that apart from the conference proper, value lies in the knowledge shared with others and international networks created because of this. “… The main objective is being able to tell as many people as we can about what we do” says Jalandoni. Luis Lopez agrees with this by emphasizing that there is a need to share knowledge and expertise with others. It is essential for Base Bahay and other organizations to show how innovative sustainable technology can be used to bridge the growing housing gap in various nations. Thus, Base is able to build and learn from its partners in development in order to create long-lasting change in both the Philippine and global society.