Stakeholders from national and local governments, the private sector, and other UN-Habitat partners convened as the Project Advisory Committee (PAC) of the Healthy Oceans and Clean Cities Initiative (HOCCI) for the first time virtually on March 16, 2021 and expressed their commitment to guide the implementation of the project through a ceremonial signing of a Declaration of Commitment (DoC).

HOCCI, a regional project funded by the Government of Japan and being implemented by UN-Habitat in the Philippines, aims to enable local governments and communities by strengthening the institutional capacity to support the operationalization and localization of the Philippines’ upcoming National Plan of Action for the Prevention, Reduction, and Management of Marine Litter (NPOA-ML), and the development of improved data collection and waste management systems.

The PAC is Chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); co-chaired by the Department of the Interior and Local Government; and composed of the League of Cities of the Philippines; the Private Sector; and the local chief executives of HOCCI partner cities, Cagayan de Oro, Calapan, Legazpi, Manila, Ormoc, and soon, Davao. The PAC is also supported by HOCCI’s technical advisory and cooperating partners: Institute of Global Environmental Strategies, UN-Habitat Waste Wise Cities, and Arcadis Shelter Programme; and UN-Habitat Philippines as PAC Secretariat.

National-level PAC members shall provide guidance in ensuring that identified city actions on solid waste management and MPL reduction are aligned with, or contribute to, national priorities, plans, and programs. The PAC will also identify areas for support to cities and its local stakeholders in terms of marine litter-relevant policies, plans, knowledge sharing, and inputs to national and international discourse.

 

 

DENR’s Foreign-Assisted and Special Projects Service Director Angelito V. Fontanilla who presided the meeting on behalf of PAC Chair, DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs, Atty. Jonas R. Leones, said:

“This initiative is timely as the country has been named by external studies as one of the main sources of plastic leakages into oceans. It also presents opportunities to revisit current efforts in municipal solid waste management, particularly reduce-reuse-recycle or 3Rs approaches, and eventually help localize the upcoming NPOA-ML in partnership with local government units,”

 

Mr. Bernhard Barth, Human Settlements Officer of UN-Habitat Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, said:

“We are excited with the timing of the project as it is coinciding almost with the approval of the NPOA on marine litter. We have contributed also to the consultation of this so that all the activities at the city level will be directly linked to the [NPOA-ML], in fact the upcoming city workshops where we will be conducting the city-level marine litter action planes will be structured around the NPOA-ML.”

 

The meeting also provided venue for the PAC to identify areas where HOCCI can contribute to the localization of the upcoming NPOA-ML. Lessons learned or good practices from HOCCI’s work in partner cities on plastic 3Rs can  inform policy reviews, white papers, or enhancement and upscaling of tools and approaches.

The members identified priority research topics, through a live online poll, which include guidance on NPOA-ML localization, community-based actions to generate behavioral change for plastic waste reduction, and waste management infrastructure gap analysis.

HOCCI partner cities are currently doing their city-level baselining on waste, capacity needs, awareness, and environmental and social safeguards. These baseline data will help cities identify priority projects for implementation as part of their City Marine Litter Action Plans. The PAC members will continue to provide  guidance in the implementation of these city projects.