The Road Ahead: The OIDCI View of the Future

 

It is but fitting that we close this chapter in OIDCI's long history by looking at what the future has in store for the next quarter century. OIDCI and its principals remain confident that the wealth of lessons learned from its 25 year journey would provide a strong foundation to enable it to forge ahead and meet the challenges of the future. This section which contains excerpts from the Company's rolling corporate plan provides a peek into that future.


PLANNING FOR CHANGE AMIDST UNCERTAINTY

When talking about the future, one hears the often-quoted phrase, “the only thing certain in this  changing world is change itself”. In the report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), these uncertainties and surprises are anchored on: a) social, economic and political inequities driving war and conflicts; b) uncertainties of food prices and the ability to sustainably produce food; c) changes in fossil-based energy economics; d) emergence of new competition for natural resources; e) increasing chronic and new diseases; and f) changing environmental conditions especially climate change-driven and growing awareness of the importance of sustaining ecosystem services. But even with the most proactive “eye” one is never certain and the world springs many “surprises”.

The world is rapidly changing and humanity will be traversing unfamiliar roads in the near future. The drivers of this change will still be a burgeoning human population but with the added dimensions of rapid urbanization, changing diets, spiraling energy demands and dwindling natural resources continuously under pressure. This increasing demand by an expanding population on one hand, and a stressed natural resource base on the other, create a “double squeeze” that increase risks and uncertainties exacerbated by climate change. The impact will be a greater need for food and nutrition security and environmental restoration, especially of biodiversity elements required for food production, human well-being and ecosystem services. There will also be greater realization of the need for more functional social and institutional structures and arrangements which will promote resilience, inclusive growth and more equitable development. Strategies required to support these imperatives at all levels of human society will become more urgent and compelling.

As the global society prepares for the end of the first Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the beginning of the succeeding MDGs (or Sustainable Development Goals after 2015), all sectors of human society should strive to contribute more to finding solutions for these challenges at all levels and encompassing both the natural and social systems. When we evaluate ourselves and humbly accept that the world has fallen short of its MDG targets, it is also bringing forward important lessons in preparation for the next courses of action. The most important lesson is that global targets must have the dimensions of peace and security, inclusive of economic and social development, and environmental sustainability. To enhance the attainment of these dimensions, interventions must be anchored on three basic core and inter-related principles: human rights, equity and environmental integrity.

From this standpoint there are a myriad of concerns and issues that need to be addressed. There is so much to do and so much to cover that it is very easy for an organization to be overwhelmed by the challenges. No doubt that there will be a sprinkling of involvements that would test the diversity and flexibility of this organization. Against this backdrop of emerging and interlocking issues, OIDCI's view of its future involvements as contained in it corporate plan will revolve around the following major development themes.

 

CROSS CUTTING DEVELOPMENT THEMES

 

FOOD SECURITY

Food security is defined by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as a condition attained when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. Also known as the twin-track approach, it is recognition that food security measured in terms of required calories alone is inadequate for ensuring human health and wellbeing. It becomes a precondition for the full enjoyment of the right to food. The UN High Level Task Force (HLTF) on Global Food Security identified the most important concerns with regard to this challenge as: priority for the most vulnerable groups, i.e., smallholders particularly women, increased focus on resilience of household livelihoods, more and better investments, and open and functional markets and trade. It also means promoting key principles of multi-stakeholder and multi-sectored partnerships, sustained political commitment and good governance, country leadership with regional support, and accountability of results in the implementation of a Comprehensive Framework Plan of Action for attaining food and nutrition security. A human rights-based approach to food and nutrition security will be more effective as it will require accountability, especially from government, and the creation or strengthening of existing institutional mechanisms and structures to attain specified targets towards this end.

Food security and poverty alleviation are at the core of development undertakings. These concerns necessarily will be linked to the related concerns of biodiversity and sustainability, health, equity, empowerment and climate change. OIDCI's experience in drafting pioneering measures in both Agriculture and Natural Resource policy will provide the cornerstone for this endeavor.


WATER

Water is another element of the natural resource base that is of global concern. It is also the primary medium which will determine the impact of climate change through its effect on water resources availability and quality. The trend of continuing water scarcity was discussed as early as 1994 during the water summit. One of the strategies adopted was an integrated water resources management based on a river basin approach for future water resources planning and investment.

OIDCI has a long established record of strength in natural resource management; Integrated Area Development Planning, Strategic Environmental Plan Development, Environment and Natural Resource Management Planning and Development, and Environmental Impact Assessment. Its recognized expertise in water resource management and development based on the river basin approach is founded on hands on experience in the actual planning and development of the Bicol River Basin Program. Involvement in the conduct of the river basin comprehensive water resource development has provided the foundational expertise in the conduct of meteorological and hydrological studies for the development of a) watershed management plans; b) irrigation and drainage development plans; c) flood control and disaster mitigation plans; d) domestic water supply development; and e) other related agricultural and fisheries development plans including institutional concerns. It has honed and developed this expertise in its various consultancy works over more than 25 years.

With climate change, severe disaster occurrences could be a regular event in areas that were previously not prone to erosion and/or flooding. OIDCI expertise should extend its water management strategies and approaches to include disaster mitigation and adaptation planning and development.


CLIMATE CHANGE and DISASTER RISK REDUCTION

In recent years, the threat of climate change has started to loom large over all living things. It is not just coming but is here with us already and the fear is that it is occurring at a pace faster than what was predicted. It will continue to occur even if the current emission patterns are reduced or reversed. The globe will get warmer; some places will become drier, other places wetter. Not all the changes and threats have been determined which poses increasing uncertainties and risks to an already overburdened life support system for humanity. This is the time when resilience of life support systems will be tested. The time to prepare is now by looking at mitigation and adaptation strategies at the technological, social, institutional and governance levels. These must be put in place or strengthened especially in climate-change vulnerable areas and sectors of society.

To address this, OIDCI intends to involve itself in areas such as methodologies for risks and vulnerability assessment; development of a knowledge base on social, technological and institutional strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation; use of modeling tools and systems analysis for projecting the extent and impact of climate change at all levels including ecosystem interactions; developing ecological information on trophic level interactions; development of risk indicators to strengthen policy formulation including insurance and financing schemes to help cope with climate change.

At the other end of the spectrum there is a need to develop effective communication strategies for target groups especially those in climate-change vulnerable areas. This includes the development of an effective multi level response, delivery and recovery mechanisms for disaster and post disaster situations from the national down to the community levels. Innovative financing schemes for climate change adaptation such as credit and insurance should be part of this disaster response strategy.


AREA FOCUSED DEVELOPMENT

It is a general knowledge that the natural resource base which provides the required goods and services for supporting economic growth and human well-being is rapidly deteriorating. The continuing rise in human population will require increases in food supply but will also mean more demand on land, water and other resource inputs provided by the natural resource base (forests, freshwater and marine ecosystems, agricultural land and water among others).

The combination of poverty and increasing demand for productivity and ecosystem services become the major reasons for rapid deterioration of ecosystems. What is needed is valuation and pricing that include ecosystem services; linking natural resource security to governance and community capacity building using participatory methods and approaches; reinforcement of local knowledge for enhancing sustainable resource management, and land use policy that will enhance the growth of uplands, coastal, with urban and agro-industry to promote social equity and alleviate poverty.

The current thrust of the global community to adopt the landscape and ecosystem approaches, i.e., Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Areas (GIAHS) as well as voluntary guidelines on responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security are all aimed towards promoting more sustainable management of the natural resource base at all hierarchical levels and in a more integrated and holistic way.

Never has the holistic approach become more relevant given the “blurring” borders between interacting ecosystems, poverty alleviation, social protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation concerns and objectives. This has been OIDCI’s approach since its early beginnings and it needs to strengthen the use of this strategy. The confluence of variables of current and future developmental issues require a greater degree of integration of these concerns at the area level more now than ever before.

 
BIODIVERSITY

The issue of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use will continue to challenge humankind not only today but in the coming years. Biodiversity is the basic foundation for food security, human health, ecological services and a buffer and coping mechanism for climate change. However, this basic foundation is threatened by rapid population growth, dwindling natural resources, destruction of habitats and ecosystems, improper land use and climate change itself.

Biodiversity, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), refers to the “variability among living organisms from all sources including, among other things, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”. It is a term which was transformed from being an esoteric ecological jargon to become a modern day element of international treaties and conventions, notably the CBD. Its transformation came at a period when human society is experiencing the tremendous benefits from myriads of living organisms from various ecosystems while at the same time realizing that many of these are now being eroded and disappearing.

Biodiversity as an ecosystem property and component is a basic foundation for food security, ecosystem services such as water supply, carbon sequestration, pollination, symbiotic relationships and others. It also provides materials for human health, fuel, energy and shelter needed by human society. As such it is necessarily equated with basic human needs and human survival with natural linkages with other environment and rural development issues across the region and the global landscape. OIDCI sees Biodiversity as a principal element of its development principles which goes beyond just passive adherence to its basic precepts.


TECHNOLOGY AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

Technology, in general, is a key element and driver of development. Interacting with the social, economic and environmental elements, it becomes a factor which can reduce or enhance inequity, poverty, environmental integrity and people’s well-being. It will largely depend on what kind and who wields and controls the technology. Access and sharing or exclusivity of appropriate technology has been a key to promoting equity, or vice versa, “elite capture” of benefits derived from it. OIDCI sees the importance of formulating programs and strategies which will promote technology sharing and transfer at all hierarchical levels and divides to improve equity and sharing of benefits as well as environmental integrity.

Due to the rapid advances in this field, Information Communication Technology (ICT) will be at the forefront of the new technologies. The advent of the digital age has already dramatically changed the way we approach, strategize and manage development projects. These technological advances have moved ICT from just being a backroom project management concern to the frontline and an essential component of our project strategies. Some of the more exciting developments in ICT that OIDCI will be looking out for are in the areas of social protection, food security and governance. With the improvement in the telecommunication infrastructure and accessibility of mobile devices to target sectors, the possibilities for its use as the primary medium for Cash Transfer programs is already becoming a reality. Private sector initiatives are fueling the development of “Bottom of the Pyramid” services which brings access to market information and technology to the farm level, social services to the beneficiary level and participation in governance to the level of the citizen. ICT opens the door to numerous possibilities which OIDCI shall continue to enhance and pursue.

With the advances in telecommunications, biometrics and digital imaging technology over the past ten years, we find ourselves on the verge of the next level in the technology revolution which promises to upscale the reach, depth and quality of our development initiatives.


SOCIAL PROTECTION, EDUCATION, HEALTH AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

While the abovementioned development themes cover the broader issues confronting our world, it is the basics that provide both immediate and long-term impact to the well being of the most vulnerable sectors of our society. The most vulnerable are those that are limited by their age, gender, tenurial status, education, cultural status, little or no access to basic services and those emerging from areas of conflict. These limitations initiate inequality which becomes magnified in time and space creating an increasingly yawning gap between the rich and the poor and marginal groups.

This poses challenges that demand more than ever before policies and programs that strengthen the social protection system and guarantee the security of the vulnerable. Hence it is noteworthy that the concept of social protection, as a social policy, has also evolved to become an integral component of human development and long-term poverty reduction strategy of governments.

Thus OIDCI views Social Protection as proceeding far beyond the provision of passive protection against contingencies. It is now a policy tool to achieve a more-inclusive economic growth, target structural causes of poverty, and institute good governance mechanisms involving various sectors and levels of society. It can also be linked to enhancement of environmental objectives by promoting “green employment” where economic incentives are tied up to the nature of the job such as engagement in climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental restoration and protection, recycling, organic agriculture among others. It entails diminishing people's exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to manage and protect themselves against economic and social risks, and natural hazards.

The Asian Development Bank has provided a comprehensive framework for instituting social protection; but for OIDCI, it will focus on area-based social protection, addressing vulnerability at the community level through such programs as the Social Fund initiative and Conditional Cash Transfer, two programs that have found successes in various parts of the world. OIDCI’s unique experience in designing and undertaking pre-implementation of the WB-funded ARMM Social Fund for Peace and Development had provided the company with the tools for instituting effective social protection mechanisms at area or community level. But more is needed. OIDCI’s vast experience and expertise in integrated area planning, in environment and natural resource management, in governance and community-based development has provided the company with a rounded perspective and the wherewithal for incorporating whenever possible. social protection objectives as an add-on dimension in projects that do not have social protection as the primary objective.


GOVERNANCE

Development in the coming decade will be increasingly characterized by the changing relationship between government and society. This is a global phenomenon, which is taking place even in countries where government-civil society relations are challenged by persistent civil strife. To be sure, there will be intensification of democratic governance during this development decade. First, through increasing decentralization, more and more development activities will now be implemented by sub national (local) authorities thereby enhancing democratic governance: local authorities are more accessible for scrutiny by the community, and the demand is for them to be more responsive and accountable. Second, civil society will gain strength and capability to find new forms of participation expressed in social, legal and political spheres.

Good governance is an important outcome of a vibrant mutually reinforcing government-civil society interaction. Civil society organizations (CSO) would be effective partners of governance reformers in (a) eradicating illegal use of public power for private gain (corruption), (b) providing third-party oversight on the use of public and development funds, and in monitoring the processes and results of public service delivery, (c) ensuring that the process of electing leaders or selecting authorities is fair, clean and free, and (d) advocating the interest of the vulnerable groups in policy formulation, program design and project implementation. Typically, their participation in government processes would also set the stage for transparency and accountability. They constitute, though not exclusively, the range of citizen engagement for good governance. In WB parlance, they are referred to as the demand-side of governance. Less traditional, demand-side actions have shown compelling evidence of effectiveness.

OIDCI might have been more adept at providing the supply-side of good governance, assisting governments in developing reform measures or formulating effective and accountable public programs. Results of supply-side governance investments over 15 years however have fallen short. This should compel OIDCI to modify the methodology, tools and learnings accumulated from its many governance projects – GOLD, ECOGOV, IHSP to name only a few – with approaches employed in demand-side governance. In the coming years, governments and development agencies will move towards a balance or complementation of demand-side and supply-side governance, thereby creating the appropriate environment for public - private partnerships to flourish.

 

LEARNING FROM THE PAST AND GEARING FOR THE FUTURE

As OIDCI travels the uncharted road of the future, remaining competitive and at the forefront of the knowledge industry means preparing itself to benefit from opportunities and managing risks and uncertainties this future brings. In any organization, the key elements of strategy, structure, systems, shared values, style of governance and staff will determine its success or failure and even its capacity to adapt and cope with changes and uncertainties. Most of all, an organization has to draw strength and confidence from the collective experience of all the roads it has travelled and from those that have joined or been touched by the journey.

Perhaps the best testimony to that strength and confidence can be gleaned from what its principals have to say about its future.

Maintain the Ideals

“OIDCI’s trademark of integrity, creativity, relevance, innovation, and excellence reflected in our consultants, outputs and services as well as within the organization, is a strong tradition and foundation for success which must be brought along. These qualities associated with the company must never be compromised”. - Ben Gaon

Growth is a Function of Professionalism

"The Company’s long years of experiences is a testament to the strong professionalism and commitment to excellence that it has maintained and it shall be this commitment that will ensure its growth and stability in the coming years” - Engr. Carmelo R. Villacorta

Consultancy is a Learning Business

"One of OIDCI's Strengths lies in its management which is made up of multidisciplinary professionals who are well grounded and have long experiences in their own fields and who have acquired, honed and continued to learn and acquire new skills. We are a learning company and we continue to learn from each other, our consultants, our clients and our project communities." - Leonardo V.Dayao

Continue The Legacy

"One of true tests of an organizations inner strength is its ability to regenerate itself not only in terms of talent and people but more importantly in terms of ideas and ideals. It is important that the company remains selective in infusing "new blood" by emphasizing the same values, work ethics and professionalism that has made the company the strong organization that it is today" - Rebecca R. Paz

There is Unity in Diversity and Strength in Consensus

Running the company by a consensus decision-making process coming from a diverse leadership with different disciplines and perspectives sounds like a herculean task. But at the end of the day there is a high degree of confidence that the decisions made and the strategy developed has received a thorough analysis before it is implemented. More importantly this promotes participation, transparency and ownership among the various key stakeholders in the company. That is the real strength." - Dr. Ramon L. Nasol

Growth is to be more than what we can be

"What will be critical to the future of OIDCI is to be clear minded about what it wants to be, what growth means, for the next 25 years; to act here and now to develop and secure the new capacities – technical knowledge, technologies, support systems – needed to respond competitively to these development opportunities; and advance the leadership position OIDCI has established during the last 25 years. - Dante de Los Angeles

Look Beyond Development Consulting

"A consulting company cannot survive if it defines itself as being in the business of consulting alone. Inevitably, the success of a consulting company will have to be defined by its commitment to development and its contribution to nation building as a socially responsible corporate citizen”. - Dan Alcantara

              Commitment and Innovation are Key for a Sustainable Future

“The accelerated pace by which we are reaching environment and development tipping points requires us to go beyond business as usual. Timely and adequate interventions only become possible when we are able to both see and care for the future. What is needed are committed experts that are able to lead in new and innovative ways, willing to experiment, and to courageously build society’s adaptive sustainability – all these in the context of assuring a high quality of life for future generations.” - Dr. Delfin Ganapin

 

A FINAL WORD FROM THE CHAIRMAN

“We see an OIDCI that will carry its trademark of excellence, relevance, and integrity; reflected through an organizational structure and systems which are fair, transparent and responsive to changes and uncertainties; and built on a solid foundation of financial viability and imbued with a strong social commitment. We see an OIDCI which is embedded in a strong network of complementary organizational alliances for its information, knowledge, technology and marketing needs at all levels – local, national, regional and international. We see an OIDCI which will not only prosper but will attain greater heights of success while travelling the uncharted road ahead” - Dr. Percy E. Sajise

 

And so the journey continues...

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