Standing from left: Project Coordinator Rommel Martinez, UN Women Coordinator Jeannie Manipon, UN-Habitat Coordinator Reinero Flores, UNICEF Officer Grace Agcaoili, UNFPA Representative Ugochi Daniels, UN Women Regional Director Roberta Clarke, UN-Habitat Coordinator Priscella Mejillano, UN-Habitat HQ Specialist Vincent Kitio, AECID Officer Maria Vicedo. Sitting from left: Jeremy Nishimori, DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero, Silay City Mayor Jose Montelibano, Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante, Olongapo City Mayor Gordon, Sorsogon City Mayor Leovic Dioneda, HUDCC Secretary General Celia Alba, UN-Habitat Country Program Manager Cris Rollo, WFP CCA Specialist Kathleen Sumaylo . ©UN-Habitat/ Beryl F. Baybay

Standing from left: Project Coordinator Rommel Martinez, UN Women Coordinator Jeannie Manipon, UN-Habitat Coordinator Reinero Flores, UNICEF Officer Grace Agcaoili, UNFPA Representative Ugochi Daniels, UN Women Regional Director Roberta Clarke, UN-Habitat Coordinator Priscella Mejillano, UN-Habitat HQ Specialist Vincent Kitio, AECID Officer Maria Vicedo. Sitting from left: Jeremy Nishimori, DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero, Silay City Mayor Jose Montelibano, Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante, Olongapo City Mayor Gordon, Sorsogon City Mayor Leovic Dioneda, HUDCC Secretary General Celia Alba, UN-Habitat Country Program Manager Cris Rollo, WFP CCA Specialist Kathleen Sumaylo . ©UN-Habitat/ Beryl F. Baybay

Quezon City, October 16 2012 — The vision of better and sustainable Philippine cities—achievable through commitment, partnership and openness to innovative solutions—inspired the more than 100 participants from government, the United Nations and other development partners at the launching of the Sustainable Philippine Cities Projects held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria last October 16, 2012.  The event was organized by UN-Habitat with its partner UN agencies UNICEF, UN Women and the World Food Programme.  The projects launched were: 1) Joint WFP-UN-Habitat Initiative on Philippine Cities and Climate Change Adaptation, 2) Achieving Sustainable Urban Development (ASUD), 3) UNICEF, UN Women and UN-Habitat Joint Programme on Safe and Friendly Cities for All, and 4) Philippine Urban Observatory, led by the Philippine Urban Consortium.

The Philippine Cities and Climate Change Adaptation is a joint programme of the World Food Programme and UN-Habitat Philippines through the support of USAID. The project aims to build resilient cities in the face of climate change and natural disasters by increasing city government capacities in participatory risk and vulnerability assessment as basis for planning and operationalizing community-based adaptation actions to benefit vulnerable poor families living in high risk areas.  Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante, Jr. expressed the city’s commitment to implement climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness measures to protect the future generation. “We aim to provide sustainable livelihood to our people by harnessing the gift of mother nature such as vast fertile lands and rich water resource with the hope of becoming the green and organic capital of Mindanao. We hope to share our gains in other parts of the country and become a model city for other urban centers” he said.  Other partner cities of this programme are the cities of Davao, Iloilo and Cagayan De Oro.

The other project launched was the  4-year programme Achieving Sustainable Urban Development which will support cities in achieving sustainable urban development with focus on Urban Planning, Urban Economy, Urban Mobility, Urban Energy, and Urban Governance & Legislation, CCA-DRR and Affordable Shelter– with strategic emphasis on urban extensions. Sorsogon City Mayor Leovic Dioneda expressed the city’s desire to focus on 3 of the 5 urban thematic areas—urban planning, urban economy as well as urban governance and legislation.

Urban planning will support the city’s efforts to start right, place everything in its proper places and pre-empt future environmental hazards and calamities. The city wants improve its local revenue generation to make it less dependent on the Internal Revenue Allocation. Mayor Dioneda called for DILG and HUDCC’s support to make their urban development sustainable and inclusive.  UN-Habitat’s global programme supported by AECID will be piloted in 7 cities in the country—Olongapo, Tuguegarao, Sorsogon, Silay, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Butuan.

According to HUDCC Secretary General Celia Alba, “The launching of the various projects today is a necessity. It is a sincere and determined call to action for  all stakeholders to work closely and more effectively in addressing the compelling issues and concerns arising from unsustainable urbanization and urban development. The project (ASUD) will help us understand and rethink and recalibrate our city planning processes and methodologies to swiftly and effectively respond to the rising challenges of urbanization”.

The 3rd project is the joint programme Safe and Friendly Cities for All of UNICEF, UN Women and UN-Habitat. Atty. Grace Agcaoili- Mosilita, Policy Specialist of UNICEF explained that the project is “a systematic approach to make cities healthy, inclusive and productive especially for women, youth and children especially the disadvantaged. It will support and facilitate LGU, women, youth and children advocates to take actions that will enhance violence prevention, increase safety and reduce vulnerability to violence and achieve improved living conditions”.  This 4-year programme will be implemented in the cities of Quezon, Pasay and Mandaluyong.

“We thank our global partners for choosing Quezon City, Pasay and Mandaluyong. We are here to learn from you. Whatever we will learn from good practices from elsewhere that is culturally applicable to our country, specifically to our city based on different peculiarities, we will adapt them”, according to Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista.

League of Cities of the Philippines Executive Director Jeremy Nishimori emphasized the importance of setting up the Philippine Urban Observatory, the fourth project that was launched, to will help cities and national agencies make evidence-based planning and decision making.

UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Mr. Christopher E. Rollo stressed that we are at a crucial phase of the country’s development now that half of the country’s population lives in cities and urban areas.  This has very profound implications in terms of how we manage and live in cities.  He pointed out that the rapid urban growth in intermediate cities  presents opportunities for anticipatory urban planning where growth can still be planned at a manageable scale.  To respond effectively to this rapid urbanization, intermediate cities have to develop their capacities fast not only in terms of acquiring technical and managerial skills but also in terms of developing partnerships, harnessing broad-based participation and constantly learning from the experiences of other cities and global practices.

Usec. Panadero challenged everyone to find innovative and better ways of implementing these sustainable urban programmes in cities and to replicate them in more local government units. He encouraged and challenged everyone by emphasizing that these efforts is not just about  piloting projects but a beginning of a process of helping the local government in addressing urbanization in a more effective way”. He formally closed the launching and declared the start of the hard work.

Signatories of Commitment of Partnership for the Safe and Friendly Cities for All. From left to right: Ariel Ortilla(facilitator) Mandaluyong Councilor Alex Santos, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, UN Women Regional Director Roberta Clarke, DILG Usec. Austere Panadero, LCP Executive Director Jeremy Nishimori, UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Christopher E. Rollo, UNICEF Officer Atty. Mary Grace Agcaoili ©UN-Habitat/ Beryl F. Baybay

Signatories of Commitment of Partnership for the Safe and Friendly Cities for All. From left to right: Ariel Ortilla(facilitator) Mandaluyong Councilor Alex Santos, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, UN Women Regional Director Roberta Clarke, DILG Usec. Austere Panadero, LCP Executive Director Jeremy Nishimori, UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Christopher E. Rollo, UNICEF Officer Atty. Mary Grace Agcaoili ©UN-Habitat/ Beryl F. Baybay

WHD2012-460x256Manila, October 1 2012 — This first Monday of October, United Nations is celebrating the World Habitat Day 2012 with the theme: Changing Cities, Building Opportunities to promote proper and inclusive planning of cities to address urban challenges and to benefit from the opportunities in cities as centers for economic activities.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called for the commit to work together for integrated, holistic management of the urban environment for the benefit of people and the planet. He also stated that:

“Better planned and better functioning cities can help guide us to the future we want: cities where everyone has adequate shelter, water, sanitation, health and other basic services; cities with good education and job prospects; cities with energy-efficient buildings and public transport systems; cities where all feel they belong.”

The UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos, emphasized that UN-Habitat wants to underscore the need to plan our cities better because unplanned growth of cities leads to chaotic development and urban sprawl. When well planned, cities can continue to afford opportunities to both the current and future residents. This dovetails with the new UN-Habitat campaign, I am a City Changer, which seeks to involve all in making their cities a better place to live.