Most Distinguished Awardee (Posthumous Award)
Dedicated to work for social justice, ecology, and social transformation – this is how his colleagues describe the life of Roberto Verzola.
Roberto, also known as “Obet” by most people, survived incarceration and torture in the Marcos dictatorship as a young activist. After Martial Law, he strived to build a more ecological and just society that respects all lives. He was instrumental in forming the first green political organization in the country
called Philippine Greens. His book titled “Society, Ecology, and Transformation” continues to inspire new generations of green activists and advocates.
Obet was a champion of sustainable agriculture and clean and safe energy. He focused on “solutions work” with local communities, working with the grassroots like farmers in promoting System of Rice Intensification (SRI) which increased yield and promoted sustainable food production. He pushed for the phasing out of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) when he took part in the Citizen’s Review Panel that exposed the technical deficiencies of the said power plant. He also authored the book “Crossing Over: The Energy Transition in Renewable Energy” and was deeply involved in campaigns and policy studies on nuclear power.
He founded the non-profit organization Center for Renewable Energy Systems and Sustainable Technology (CREST) in 2015. CREST promoted sustainable energy policies and the adoption of small-scale renewable energy systems especially for vulnerable communities. He was also the Vice President of Center for Empowerment, Innovation and Training on Renewable Energy from 2018
to 2020 and was included as advisor of SRI Pilipinas, and as board member of the Philippine Permaculture Association, and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.
Obet promoted for open source computing and fought against the monopoly of Microsoft. He also stood against biotechnology giant Monsanto’s
commercialization of Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) corn through policy advocacy and participating in a 30-day hunger strike.
Obet’s life, as he would describe it, was an ultra-marathon: a lifelong commitment to changing mindsets and the society forward – which was proven true until he passed away. Equipped with technical knowledge and sharp societal analysis,
he truly brought technology to social development work and environmental conservation.