PAL’s new chief sustainability officer is a UN scientist

Science Diplomat Glenn S. Banaguas has been appointed as the new chief resiliency and sustainability officer of the Philippine Airlines (PAL), the official flag carrier of the Philippines. Capt. Stanley Ng, PAL president and chief operating officer, expressed his excitement over the acquisition of the UN scientist, acknowledging his immense expertise and the valuable contributions he would bring to PAL.

“PAL is extremely blessed to have multi-awarded climate and disaster scientist Banaguas finally on board, as the nation’s flag carrier is at the crossroads of a transformative shift of direction of integrating the PAL Carbon Footprint Calculator and implementing the Environmental and Energy Management Systems, both pioneering initiatives under our RISE program. He will be a tremendous asset to our company,” Ng remarked.

Banaguas joins PAL at a critical juncture as the airline is launching its ambitious “RISE Philippine Airlines” program. The program’s strategic thrust encompasses resiliency, inclusivity, sustainability, and “enculturability,” aimed at transforming the airline’s direction and operations. Within this framework, the integration of the PAL Carbon Footprint Calculator, the implementation of the Environmental and Energy Management Systems, and other resilient, sustainable, and gender-transformative projects are groundbreaking efforts in the region.

His impressive accolades and achievements in the field of environment, climate change, and disaster risk make him the ideal candidate to spearhead PAL’s resiliency and sustainability endeavors. He is not only a multi-awarded scientist but also an educator and science diplomat dedicated to finding science-based policy solutions to environmental challenges. He is the first and only Filipino individual recipient of the prestigious UN Sasakawa Laureate for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) award, recognizing his outstanding contributions to the field. The UN scientist is the first Filipino who was awarded by the US Department of State for science and technology in the field of climate change and sustainable energy under the US-Asean Science and Technology Fellowship program. He is also the first Filipino who was featured in “The Big Idea,” a US Mission to ASEAN platform that features people who have made significant contributions in Southeast Asia.

The UN scientist has received numerous other international fellowships and awards, which include the Distinguished Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts in the United Kingdom; an Executive Fellow of the Geneva Center for Security Policy in Switzerland; a Lee Kuan Yew Senior Fellow in Public Service in Singapore; Asia Leader Award for Sustainability Leadership; and recently he was awarded as one of the Top 100 Asian Scientists for 2023 by the Singapore-based magazine.

He was a grantee of the Solar Radiation Management Initiative, The Royal Society, The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). He is part of the team that won The Rockefeller Foundation Food System Vision Prize-Special Mention Award. One of his research advocacy works was featured as one of the top 10 projects in “Gender Equality in Water Governance” in the world conferred by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) in Stockholm, Sweden. He was also featured by “About Resilience”, an international platform managed by Panta Ray from Milan, Italy that presents the outstanding contributions of individuals in the world. He is the recipient of the Outstanding Young Scientist (OYS) Award for Environmental Management conferred by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and The Outstanding Filipino (Tofil) Laureate in Environment Conservation and Science Diplomacy, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of the Philippines.”

Banaguas has also served as a consultant and adviser for various UN agencies, government bodies, and development institutions, working on projects related to climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and environmental management. He is also the advisor of the private sector in the areas of environmental, social, and governance (ESG), Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD), Net Zero Emissions (NZE), and low-carbon diet programs and sustainability projects. He is the Climate Diplomat of the European Union (EU)-Asia Expert Panel for climate diplomacy and environmental security; the chair of the Asian Science Diplomats; the chair of the US-Asean Science and Technology Fellows, and also the vice president of the board of trustees of Statweather Institute, the humanitarian arm of Statweather, which has garnered the achievement of the number one climate technology in the world by Environmental Business International (2018) and has also received distinction as the number one data services company in the world by Energy Risk.

Furthermore, Banaguas has been recognized for his efforts in community empowerment, humanitarian activities, and peacebuilding initiatives. The UN scientist has founded the Environmental and Climate Change Research Institute (Eccri), which brings cutting-edge research to marginalized communities in the Philippines, addressing climate change and disaster risk. His expertise in accessing multilateral funds and developing science and evidence-based projects will greatly benefit PAL in its pursuit of resilient and sustainable practices.

Banaguas studied Climate Change and Energy at Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University, and Sustainability Leadership at the Center of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University. He took Applied Remote Sensing Technology from the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA). The UN scientist also took Conflict Sensitivity, Religious Engagement in Peacebuilding, and Peace Mediation from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and also studied Geopolitics and Global Futures, Movement of People and Security, Environment and Security, and Critical Incident Management from the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP). He took Chemical Engineering from Mapua University and Environmental Management from the Ateneo De Manila University.

The globally renowned science diplomat’s vast experience, combined with his passion for sustainability, will be instrumental in guiding PAL toward a more resilient and environmentally responsible future. As chief resiliency and sustainability officer, the UN scientist will oversee the assessment and reduction of the airline’s carbon footprint and the execution of a net-zero emission roadmap by 2050, specifically tailored for the aviation industry.

Under his leadership, PAL aims to strengthen its organizational capacity to adapt to change, foster stakeholder engagement, promote gender-transformative and nature-based solutions, and enhance awareness and stakeholder empowerment. His role will be crucial in integrating scientific and innovative approaches into PAL’s operations, ensuring the airline’s commitment to resiliency, inclusivity, sustainability, and “enculturability.”

Banaguas’ appointment marks a significant milestone for PAL and reinforces its commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable practices. With his expertise and visionary leadership, PAL is well-positioned to become a regional leader in the aviation industry’s sustainable transformation, contributing to the global fight against climate change and promoting a more resilient and environmentally conscious future. (Story and photo courtesy of the Asean Science Diplomat)