Makati City, 23rd June. In preparation for the Surabaya preparatory committee to be held in July (25-27) and the Habitat III in October (17-20), the Habitat III Technical Working Group headed by Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Director Avelino Tolentino presented the final draft of the Philippine Habitat III National Report to the National Steering Committee for the preparation of the Philippine Habitat III National Report, chaired by the HUDCC and supported by UN-Habitat , following a process that has started more than two years ago. This report will inform the upcoming National Urban Development and Housing Framework (NUDHF) and the development of the Philippine Development Plan for the next six years under the incoming administration.
Participants from various government agencies, local governments, civil society organizations, private sector, practitioners and other urban stakeholders discussed the six chapters through an overview of the key outputs, in order to improve the ultimate version and contribute to the global discussion and agenda-setting for the New Urban Agenda. Alike the entire process, this meeting was a fruitful example of collaboration between key stakeholders of the urban development sector, ranging from government officials to members of civil society organizations and the private sector. Among the participants were from the National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Interior and Local Government, HUDCC, CONCEPT, UN-Habitat, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Transportation and Communication, Metro Manila Development Authority and Department of Foreign Affairs.
HUDCC Secretary General, Cecilia S. Alba, opened the event and thanked the participants particularly the members of the various technical working groups for their efforts in coming up with the final draft of the report. The six main chapters were presented by the technical consultants followed by an open discussion during which participants shared their recommendations to refine the ultimate version. The thematic chapters are 1) Urban Demography, 2) Urban Governance and Legislation, 3) Land and Urban Planning, 4) Environment and Urbanization, 5) Urban Economy and 6) Housing and Basic Services. A recurrent issue that arose from the discussion was the necessity to strengthen the capacities of local authorities and improve the operative mechanisms between the levels of governance.
Director Tolentino presented the draft new urban agenda anchored on the vision of a “sustainable, smart, resilient, inclusive urban Philippines” and responding to the challenges identified in the report. The discussion highlighted the need to align this agenda and the Philippine urban development objectives with the county’s international commitments, for instance the Nationally Determined Contribution committed in COP21 and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In concluding the workshop, UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Cris Rollo synthesised the main ideas emphasized through the day. As a way forward, the report will be finalized based on the comments and turned over to the new administration in time for its presentation at the Surabaya preparatory committee in July 2016. According to Rollo, “half of the Philippine population are now living in cities and urban areas with urban population are growing faster than the national average; thus, urbanization offers opportunities to improve people’s lives but it can have negative results if we don’t manage it properly”.
He commended the participants for the solid work on the report and encouraged the stakeholders and partner organizations to use the Habitat III report to inform the new NUDHF and, more strategically, to use the Habitat III process to advocate for more sustainable, inclusive and smart urban development in the forthcoming Philippine Development Plan.