Guiuan, February 28 2015 – French President Francois Hollande’s two-day trip to the Philippines to push for a global call to action against climate change, in support of the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) taking place in Paris this December, was punctuated with a short but poignant visit to the municipality of Guiuan.
Guiuan, a second-class municipality at the southern tip of Eastern Samar, facing the Pacific Ocean, was the location of Super Typhoon Haiyan’s first landfall. All houses in the municipality were razed to the ground at the wake of Haiyan, which also swept through vast municipal waters, including a 60,448-hectare marine reserve. The super typhoon wreaked USD8.5 million worth of damage in Guiuan’s fisheries sector alone and flattened coconut farms that comprised the municipality’s economy. But given the current climate regime, Haiyan may not be the last extreme weather event from which Guiuan and the rest of the country can suffer.
Shortly after touching down in Guiuan on 27 February, Hollande had a dialogue with local authorities of the municipal government of Guiuan, led by Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales, as well as representatives from civil society and the private sector.
The French delegation in the dialogue included French ministers Laurent Fabius, Annick Girardin, and Ségolène Royal, and were joined by Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, UN Under-Secretary-General Christiana Figueres (UNFCCC Executive Secretary), and UN Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner (UNEP Executive Director). Senior officials from other international organizations, and French artists and environment campaigners Marion Cotillard and Melanie Laurent were also present.
Here, Hollande rallied for the people of Guiuan to see themselves as survivors rather than victims. Together with Gonzales, he echoed the solidarity of the people of France with Guiuananons to link realities at the local scale to talks at the global level.
In the dialogue, one of the French ministers also stated that Guiuan could be a pilot site for innovations and opportunities in the context of COP21 and climate change in general.
Ministers and private individuals expressed commitments to channel funds for projects that would demonstrate these innovations and opportunities, to which Maria Adelaida Cea, UN-Habitat Regional Manager for Cities and Climate Change Initiative Asia-Pacific, emphasized to keep in mind that central to these proposals was the need to do proper settlements planning, environmental planning, and climate change action planning.
Since Haiyan struck, UN-Habitat has been providing technical support in planning to Guiuan with respect to recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction, climate change adaptation, and sustainable development. A concrete output of this support is the Guiuan Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan (GRRP) which guides efforts of the city and its development partners in rebuilding a resilient Guiuan.
Additionally, the French government has been supporting recovery efforts in Guiuan with projects mainly in water, sanitation, and health through agencies like Agence d’Aide à la Coopération Technique Et au Développement (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, ACTED) and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders, MSF).
After the dialogue, Hollande and Gonzales, with their respective parties, proceeded to the public market and terminal complex where Hollande met with members of the fisherfolk association. Being frontliners in the ecosystem change induced by climate change, Guiuan fisherfolk are being provided partnerships for assistance by the French government.
At the Guiuan East Central School, Hollande gave a public address that highlighted the French government’s solidarity with the Philippines in making sure that efforts being done for the success of COP21 would bring about the safety and resilience of the future generation.
“You will set an example for the international community,” Hollande stated in French, addressing the local crowd gathered at the school grounds. “It is here that you suffered, it is here that you are acting.”
“We have…a special duty to do more because we will be holding the climate conference in December. And on this occasion, what I’ve seen here will shed light [on] what we will be doing in Paris. France wants an agreement to be found with all countries. We want to sign a noble and binding agreement. And when France will mobilize all the countries in the world for the success of that conference, I will remember your faces, I will remember that…you will be watching us, heads of state, and governments. And if we succeed at the end of the conference, I will also remember your faces, see them once again, and remember that we will be acting in the name of the world, in the name of Guiuan, so that nothing like this ever happens again.”
A youth representative from Guiuan, Alexandra Paranas, formally responded, ending her message with an appeal: “Please sign the agreement for us in Paris, France. Please sign it for our future.”
Manila, February 25 2015 — To encourage youth’s participation in designing public spaces, UN-Habitat held a one-day Minecraft competition on 25 February 2015. Participants were tasked to design Rizal Park, a spacious urban park where Philippine national hero Jose Rizal’s remains are enshrined in a monument. A total of 25 participants coming from various high schools and universities in Metro Manila joined.
Pontus Westerberg, Transparency and Digital Projects Officer from UN-Habitat headquarters, began the event with a brief orientation about UN-Habitat’s public space programmes and the characteristics of successful public spaces.
“Based on our study of cities around the world, successful cities have 50% public spaces,” he said. “Out of these 50%, 35% are streets while 15% are other public spaces such as libraries, parks, etc.”
Westerberg also emphasized the significance of public involvement in designing and revitalizing public spaces, referring to the competition as an opportunity for the youth―a demographic that largely remains unheard―to be more involved in revitalizing historic public spaces such as Rizal Park.
The judging panel was comprised of UN-Habitat External Relations Head Thomas Melin, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board Commissioner Linda Hornilla. The entries were to be judged based on three criteria: safety and security, playfulness for children and young people, and social interaction between citizens. The judges chose one overall winner and one winner for each criterion, each winner receiving a cash prize.
Noteworthy features of the winning entries were the inclusion of a police station and a hospital and the presence of cable cars.
The event was organized by the League of Cities of the Philippines and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), with assistance from UN-Habitat Philippines.
The Analysis of Historical Examples of City Extensions takes a retrospective look at how various cities in the past have grown and evolved using the approach of planned city extensions.
This retrospective reflection allows us to draw lessons that only the passage of time can allow; lessons which can be useful in guiding future urban growth so as to generate cities that are more sustainable, socially inclusive, and economically viable.
The analysis examines the development of ten cities from different parts of the world: rich and poor cities; cities built in different time periods – from 17th to 21st century; and at different scale – from neighbourhood to city scale. Various aspects of each city related to physical configuration, process, phasing and regulation are examined.
The analysis results in the following conclusions: The grid as a basic organizational structure has proved valid and useful in the development of large and small cities all around the globe and through all periods of time; a General Plan with regulations rather than a Master Plan is proposed because it is more flexible and can evolve through time; an adequate urban density is essential in order to create civic life and economic activity in the city; and variations in the grid structure are important to remove monotony and create interesting cities.
Published by: UN-Habitat Headquarters
Date published: February 2015
Publication type: Book – Planned City Extensions: Analysis of Historical Examples (PDF)