Many countries in the developing world, including the Philippines, are undergoing rapid and potentially unsustainable urbanization. This trend is the result of both inbound migration from impoverished rural areas as well as gradual encroachment of urban areas into nearby territories. Process systems engineering (PSE) techniques have been used in the past decades for optimal planning and design of industrial systems. PSE involves the development and use of various computational techniques to make industrial operations more efficient, economically viable and environmentally sustainable.
In the case of the Philippines, the National Capital Region (i.e., NCR, comprised of Manila and its environs) has grown into a megacity of close to 20 million people. Such a population is sustained by inputs of food, energy, water drawn from outside the NCR itself, resulting in an environmental footprint that far exceeds the land area of this major urban center. A similar pattern also occurs for many large cities elsewhere in the world. There are a number of other cities like Metro Cebu and Metro Davao which are facing similar problems. With PSE, a mathematical model can be created of the entire metropolis so that various policy scenarios can be simulated such that there is an optimal benefit for the population.
By necessity, the PSE approach requires the cooperation of many disciplines, all of which can contribute to the creation of an adequate mathematical model of a sustainable city. The UK has many institutions that are involved in sustainability studies. What’s more, its institutions are highly connected to the global research network. By tapping into this expertise and network, our institution can rapidly grow in knowledge and experience in this important field.
The UK has a superb research network and Philippine institutions have had good experiences in collaborating with them. Many of our faculty obtained their PhD’s from UK institutions. In particular, the University of Nottingham and De La Salle University have had a very good collaboration which continues to this day.