Safeguarding the seas is part of Tagum City’s sustainability initiatives, and Mayor Rellon personally takes on the task in this #MayorsChallengePh video! Civic groups and NGOs join the local government in building artificial coral reefs to support fish populations in the aptly called “I’M SEACURE” program. They also work together to keep a mangrove nursery. Aside from protecting life underwater (SDG 14), these collaborative efforts contribute to food security in Tagum and beyond. #UrbanOctoberPh

An inclusive economy is fundamental to urban sustainability, as Mayor Medina of Vigan City shows us in his #MayorsChallengePh entry. The city provides livelihood opportunities to persons with disabilities who work as loom weavers specializing in “Abel Iloko”, the traditional weaving culture of Vigan. PWDs enjoy productive employment while keeping tradition alive. Craftsmanship and reduced inequalities are at the heart of Vigan’s vibrancy! #UrbanOctoberPh #SDG8 #SDG10

Mayor Climaco of Zamboanga City gives us a tour of Santa Cruz Island, famous for its pink sand beaches and century-old mangrove tree. As a protected area frequented by tourists, human activities on the island are strictly regulated to preserve marine life (SDG 14) and life on land (SDG 15). Because urban sustainability goes beyond the city proper, conservation of the island and its resources is a top priority of Zamboanga City.

Before #UrbanOctoberPh ends, Mayor Climaco challenges Vigan Mayor Carlo Medina to join the #MayorsChallengePh.

In this Mayors’ Challenge video, Mayor Bernard Dy proudly introduces Cauayan City’s response to SDGs 2 and 3. In an effort to alleviate hunger and malnutrition while ensuring that no food goes to waste, Cauayan established a “Food Bank” where food is stored and distributed to poor families and children. The Food Bank is operated by the city government but receives generous support from individuals, establishments, local retailers, companies, NGOs, and other charitable institutions: a small-scale but inspiring example of partnerships for the Goals. #UrbanOctoberPh #MayorsChallengePh

Attendant to shelter support being provided by the Rebuilding Marawi Shelter and Livelihood Project being implemented by UN-Habitat with funding from Japan is the livelihood support component to complement shelter provision and facilitate socio-economic reintegration of the those displaced by the siege.

The livelihood project is a response to the livelihood needs assessment (LNA) that was carried out at the start of the project. The assessment revealed that support especially in cash-for-work programs and market linkages, access of IDPs to start-up capital, and livelihood opportunities for women, the elderly and female-headed households was needed to complement government interventions and response.

With the siege resulting in massive displacement, damaged properties, and disrupted economic activities, the livelihood component endeavors to help strengthen or restore the social fabric and promote peacebuilding among war-affected communities in Marawi City.

In this regard, a hackathon, a 24- to 48-hour intensive brainstorming session to formulate or design a proposed solution to a specific problem, usually in the form of an app, prototype, or detailed proposal or presentation, will take place in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, provisionally on November 23-24, 2019 to shine a light on the youth’s role and ingenuity in innovative approaches to urban sustainability. 

The event is targeting around 40 to 50 youth participants, with each team composed of two to three members, in addition to researchers, urban practitioners, and technical experts who will be providing inputs throughout the event. Outputs of the hackathon may run the gamut from mobile apps, infographics, business plans, and presentations to prototypes, and will be featured via video gallery on UN-Habitat’s country office and global digital platforms.

This Youth Innovation Hackathon will focus primarily on environmental and social solutions that will support post-recovery initiatives in Marawi. A recent assessment of the Environmental and Social Safeguards System (ESSS) in the area identified interconnected issues related to water quality, water usage, and waste disposal in the affected communities. According to the assessment, lower quality of water has resulted in diarrhea and skin diseases in the communities because there are no methods of purifying/filtering water from its source. There is also increased dependence on delivered/bottled/mineral water over tap water for drinking, raising both financial expenses for the displaced families and plastic bottle waste in the communities. In the absence of proper waste collection and segregation practices, more than 60% burn their waste, including plastic. This assessment report and other literature on clean technology innovation will be sent to registered participants in advance of the hackathon to provide them with context and a background of the advocacies, mandates, and work of UN-Habitat.

As a response to various post-conflict recovery challenges in Marawi, the participants of the hackathon will be asked to come up with innovations that will use clean technology innovations to help encourage recycling while expanding livelihood options in the neighborhood level. We are looking for outputs that will help manage plastic wastes in communities without regular waste collection and segregation initiatives, and initiate a Material Recovery System (MRF) that could generate income from collected wastes, particularly plastic bottles. The hackathon is also open to ideas and outputs that will improve water quality in Marawi, including but not limited to user-friendly systems that will allow residents to monitor water quality and/or purify or filter water using materials available in the neighborhood.

The outputs will be judged according to the execution of the theme, quality of the idea, innovation, presentation/demo, and business impact/viability.

The event will be open to the public virtually via livestream of some segments from the programme as well as of the presentation of the finalists’ submissions. Guests will include partners from the national and local governments, the private sector, other international development organizations, and industries.

To facilitate the successful conduct of the hackathon, a full-service package event organizer will be hired to oversee the administrative, logistical, and other preparatory aspects required to successfully hold the event under the guidance of and in conjunction with the Rebuilding Marawi Shelter an Livelihood Project team and other relevant UN-Habitat Philippines staff.

Interested parties may fill out and submit a Request for Quotation Form and the P11 Personal History Form to on or before 5:00 PM, 1 November 2019, based on the tasks/deliverables enumerated in the Terms of Reference. All for download below:

This Urban October, Legazpi City takes its “Fun and Adventure” motif a step further by responding to the Mayors’ Challenge to showcase urban sustainability initiatives. Nominated by Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal led a back-to-back community coastal cleanup and mangrove planting activity participated by city government employees and local townsfolk. Trash-free coasts with lush mangrove forests not only support life below water (SDG 14) but also contribute to improved water quality (SDG 6) and climate mitigation (SDG 13). For the Legazpeños, picking up litter along the coast is already a way of life, a lifestyle that allows them to care for and enjoy the beautiful ridge-to-reef system they have been blessed with.


Nominated by Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez joins the #UrbanOctober Mayors’ Challenge with a site visit of climate-vulnerable communities for local consultations, a practice that can enable local harness local knowledge and include their citizenry in decision making. 

Climate adaptation plans that undergo consultation and engagement with communities, especially those most affected by climate change, have the most promising chances of efficacy and sustainability when those they are meant to support are part of the decision-making process. Ormoc City is currently in partnership with UN-Habitat, LCP, and national government agencies in a project that aims to use urban planning and design to build climate resilience and strengthen the adaptive capacity of the city’s most vulnerable.

A joint campaign by UN-Habitat Philippines and the League of Cities of the Philippines, the Mayors’ Challenge champions mayors as leaders of positive behavior change by tasking them and their staff to feature a particular urban sustainability practice that can meaningfully contribute to sustainable urban development.

For more information, contact


In partnership with the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Architecture, architecture students and faculty members were invited to a symposium last October 18, 2019 which shed light on Philippine housing issues and informalities in urban areas, and the work of development organizations, government entities, and the academe in addressing these issues.

Architect Armin Sarthou, Jr., Dean of the College of Architecture, welcomed the students and faculty before giving the floor to Mr. Christopher Rollo, UN-Habitat Country Manager, who discussed the work of UN-Habitat on slum upgrading, global standards and principles on slum upgrading, and spectrum of tenurial rights in the Philippines and abroad. Atty. Junefe Payot of the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) supplemented this with current modalities of government support to informal communities to secure tenure including their community mortgage program. To further equip the audience, Ms. Emma Ulep of HLURB presented the National Urban Development and Housing Framework (NUDHF), which can guide academic and architectural practitioners in slum upgrading practices and inclusion in housing developments.

An engaging Q&A followed, facilitated by Mr.  Michele Suria of the Architecture faculty.  The guest speakers provided additional information on relocation, population, participation, and livelihoods, vis-à-vis housing and land. The symposium also clarified the roles of different government agencies that deal with housing, including the operationalization of the newly created Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD). While frameworks already exist, the speakers recognized the need to overhaul existing processes and systems to make them more participatory and people-oriented. According to Mr. Rollo, “As long as existing systems in government are not tweaked to be able to make sure that meaningful participation can happen, then we will have certain challenges.”

On the growing population in urban areas, Mr. Rollo and Ms. Ulep agreed that it is not so much about controlling population as much as managing it and understanding its dynamics. Atty. Payot added, “Some say there is an artificial scarcity of land in Metro Manila… This goes back to how we see what is the highest and best use for land. Most people look at it only in commercial terms. There are uses that I think are also very important which also gives you both economic and social benefits”.

This symposium on slum upgrading is part of Urban October 2019 which recognizes the role of the youth in sustainable urbanization.

Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno and city staff join the Urban October Mayors Challenge with “plogging.”

“Plogging” is a regular, twice-a-month activity spearheaded by the CLENRO (City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office), which is also mandated to manage the city’s solid waste. With staff from other departments, CLENRO chooses different areas in the city to do plogging, which is essentially picking up trash while jogging and walking. Apart from carrying the usual water bottles and face towels, city hall employees wear gloves and carry trash bags and tools to pick trash up. The activity intends to encourage people to be conscious of their solid waste and where it ends up (mostly in the waterways). For a city that invariably gets flooded during rainy days, the LGU hopes for less trash in CDO’s streams and rivers, better solid waste management, and a citizenry that is active and environmentally-conscious. Plogging works two-fold by achieving better health (SDG 3) while contributing to sustainability in cities (SDG 12). This fun (and free!) activity offers a unique alternative to community Zumba sessions, helps solid waste management, and encourages eco-friendly mobility for the young and old alike.


A joint campaign by UN-Habitat Philippines and the League of Cities of the Philippines, the Mayors’ Challenge champions mayors as leaders of positive behavior change by tasking them and their staff to feature a particular urban sustainability practice that can meaningfully contribute to sustainable urban development.

For more information, contact

Students from the School of Architecture, Industrial Design and the Built Environment of Mapua University contributed resilient urban design ideas for Angeles City, a landlocked and highly urbanized area foreseen to experience water and heat stress as a result of climate change. Angeles is one of the pilot cities of the Building Climate Resiliency Through Urban Plans and Designs (BCRUPD) project of UN-Habitat.

Led by Architect Mark Roeland De Castro, the students’ site visits and consultations with UN-Habitat and the local government of Angeles concluded with a Youth Urban Design Exchange last October 11, 2019 at Mapua University (Intramuros Campus) as part of Urban October. Five groups showcased their design proposals for a resilient Angeles City and received useful critiques from UN-Habitat, representatives from Angeles (Engineer Malvin Santos and Mr. Rolando Carreon), fellow students, and lecturers. Architect Gloria Teodoro, Dean of the School of Architecture, Industrial Design and the Built Environment dropped by to watch the presentations and give her two-cents.

Data-driven design was a key takeaway from the exchange. Architect De Castro emphasized the importance of research and evidence-based design, while Mr. Reinero Flores (BCRUPD Project Coordinator) suggested putting climate assessment at the start of the process and presentations, and not as an afterthought.

Ms. Jenina Alli, Knowledge Management and Communications Officer of UN-Habitat Philippines, commended the ingenuity of the students but also advised them to consider the feasibility of their ideas:

One of the top constraints to cities being able to do the interventions is financial resources. If that were not an issue, sky’s the limit… But don’t use it as a factor to limit your ingenuity and your creativity but keep it at the back of your head that this is a limiting factor for LGUs. You can customize your ideas with that consideration in mind so that you can come up with proposals that are actionable.

This partnership between UN-Habitat and Mapua University aims to equip future architects and designers with climate perspectives necessary for sustainable urbanization. The students are expected to refine their design ideas based on the feedback they received during the event.