Designers of Development Options
The Climate Crisis
After what our country has undergone in this year of unusual stress for all of us Filipinos, we believe it is time to mount a movement for a sustainable future to mitigate and forestall the climate crisis threatening our very security as a nation.
We believe you share the same ideal as an individual, and in the organization(s) you represent. We also believe that if we find effective ways to link, coordinate, complement and synergize the efforts and initiatives undertaken by countless and disparate groups all around the country, we can avert the climate crisis, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in ten years.
Brain Trust: Knowledge and Options for Sustainable Development, Inc. (BTI) is a Filipino sustainable development think tank that draws from the collective experience of its founding fellows to craft innovative and integrative development solutions for public and private sector client
We envision to be an organization of sustainable development professionals that is acknowledged and respected for the impeccable quality, practical applications and innovativeness of its products and services.
We strive to
generate innovative and integrative pedagogies and processes that will catalyze interfaces between and across various disciplines, social groups and local and international arenas in planning, policy-making, implementation, monitoring and assessment of sustainable development interventions.
We seek to
be instrumental in the attainment of inclusive societies and economies that are climate change resilient, culture sensitive, politically & socially empowered, and efficient and sustainable in harnessing resources toward shared prosperity.
Planning, along with its associated processes and tools, is one of BTI’s core competencies. BTI formulates various forms of plans and frameworks such as strategic socio-economic and area development plans (e.g. Mindanao Peace and Development Framework); sector frameworks (e.g. Operational Framework for Rural Poverty Reduction); sustainability plans (e.g., Sustainable Development Framework Plan for Canatuan Mining Community); corporate plans (Technical Assistance to the Department of Budget and Management); and business plans (Formulation of Business Plans for each of DBM’s 32 units). It develops quantitative and qualitative tools and employs these interactively to strengthen planning processes. BTI’s path breaking works in this regard include the construction of the first Philippine Regional Computable General Equilibrium Model (PRCGEM), the first Regional Econometric Model (REM) for each of the six regions of Mindanao, and the first Mindanao Agglomeration Model. Its qualitative tools include own brand of various consultative and information-generating processes such as scenario building and community journey mapping.
POLICY AND PROGRAM REVIEW, EVALUATION AND ADVOCACY
BTI has undertaken policy and program reviews either as an objective of a study or as a major component of a study to attain its objectives. Its Strategic Review of the Food and Nutrition Situation in the Philippines included analysis of adverse policies (e.g. rice and agriculture products production and trade) and programs (e.g. agricultural commodities, school feeding, etc.). Quantitative models such as the Agricultural Multi-Market Model for Policy Evaluation, PRCGEM, and Agglomeration Model are useful tools for policy review. PRCGEM helps determine the economy-wide implications of regional development policies and regional differences in impacts of economy-wide policies. The review of sector programs of government, private sector and non-government organizations using quantitative (e.g. regression) and qualitative tools (e.g. case studies) is a standard feature in BTI’s project implementation design. For instance, it reviewed poverty programs for the Operational Framework for Rural Poverty Reduction and the Study on the Root Causes of Poverty in Calabarzon Region; and developed an effectiveness evaluation tool for the Study to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Private Sector Representatives in the Regional Development Councils. Policy and program advocacy is an inherent and standard component of BTI’s project design. It advocates for its policy recommendations through the conduct of forums (e.g. Mindanao Policy Forums), publication (e.g. Food and Nutrition Report), and presentations to public and government officials.
ECONOMIC MODELING, FUTURES THINKING AND CAPACITY BUILDING
Economic modeling, futures thinking and capacity building further consist BTI skills. BTI has developed a number of pioneering economic models that aide planning and policy-making. Two of the country’s skilled and renowned modelers are BTI partners. BTI is able to have a better grasp of relationships among development dimensions and the shape of the future through the back-to-back use of models and multi-stakeholder scenario building exercises. BTI incorporates capacity building – formal and informal – in all its work whenever possible. It has trained government agencies (e.g. DBM and NEDA central and regional offices, Mindanao Development Authority, ARMM-CPDO) in planning, programming and M&E, and construction and use of various economic models.
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND PROTECTION
Social development and protection comprise a large part of BTI’s project portfolio. BTI assessed and provided recommendations for improving the country’s implementation of the: (a) Millennium Development Goals (MDG) program through the MDG Provincial Scorecard (UNICEF); (b) the poverty reduction programs Towards an Integrated Operational Framework for Rural Poverty Reduction in the Philippines; (c) Food and Nutrition programs; (d) Social Development and Management Programs in Canatuan Mining Community; (e) jobs/skills development programs; and (e) Agrarian Reform Program through the determination of Appropriate Economically Viable Land Size. As a policy and standard procedure, all plans that BTI formulated and policies and programs it reviewed ensured the coherent integration of social/societal/cultural, economic, environmental, political/governance, and gender dimensions, consistent with the BTI tradition and work brand.
PROMOTING INVESTMENTS, PRODUCTIVITY AND COMPETITIVENESS
Promoting investments, productivity and competitiveness has figured prominently in a number of BTI projects. BTI participated in the implementation of Business Risk Assessment and Management for Climate Change to assist the business sector and stakeholders in 16 key cities assess climate and disaster risks and determine strategic actions to, among others, protect and enhance productivity and competitiveness. It examined and recommended means for providing a continuous flow of needed skills to industries through its Jobs-Skills Mismatch Project. It had extensive work in investment promotion in Mindanao such as in Mindanao Economic Linkages Project that produced successful business cases and five Mindanao sector studies to guide investment in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); and Connection, Cooperation and Commerce for Peace and Development in ARMM, which produced an investment guide and facilitated the direct connection of Manila-based investors with ARMM business people. BTI also provided research assistance to international consultancy firms in through profiling of about 20 cities focused on investment and urban issues.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) has also been BTI’s strength as evidenced by its various work with development institutions such as in the Review and Inventory of Existing Community-Based M&E Systems in CPC 6 Focus Areas (UNICEF); Typhoon Yolanda Humanitarian Assistance and Reconstruction Monitoring and the Independent Evaluation of Canada’s International Assistance Programming in the Philippines (both of Global Assistance Canada); and the design of M&E systems for all the plans BTI helped formulate.