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.


One hundred nine internally displaced families now have homes to call their own as they received certificates of conditional award for permanent houses from UN-Habitat. The families received their certificates on February 25, 2021, during the Inauguration of Marawi Resettlement Site and Permanent Houses (Phase 1) in Brgy. Dulay West, Islamic City of Marawi.

(L-R) President Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling of the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), Secretary Eduardo del Rosario of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Mayor Majul U. Gandamra of Marawi City, Country Programme Manager Christopher Rollo of UN-Habitat Philippines, Chairperson Sultan Nasser Sampaco of the Marawi Sultanate League, and Dr. Minalang Barapantao, Sr. Chief of Staff, Ministry of Human Settlement and Urban Development present the certificate of conditional award to Amer B. Samporna, President of the Dariday Datu Naga Homeowners Association.


The houses were built by UN-Habitat through the Rebuilding Marawi through Community-Driven Shelter and Livelihood Project with a USD 10-million funding from the Government of Japan. The houses are located on a 1.8 hectare land area provided by SHFC, the project partner for land acquisition and site development.

The families named their village, Hadiya which means “gift”. According to them, this place where they can rebuild their lives is indeed a gift.

Hadiya Village in SHFC Phase 1, Brgy. Dulay West


This new resettlement site hosts 109 families who were displaced as a result of the heavy fighting between pro-ISIS militants and government security forces in May 2017. These families, who are the project’s home-partners, are members of four Homeowners Associations (HOAs) who were organized and duly registered with the support of the project.

SHFC President Arnolfo Cabling expressed his hope for lasting peace, and his gratitude to the project partners and donors.

“We in SHFC hope that these new homes will help foster peace within the families who will now live there and hopefully this peace will radiate to the greater society. We know that post-conflict recovery takes time and has been complicated by this pandemic. We thank our partners and funders, especially the Government of Japan, for its continued commitment to the development of the Philippines, particularly to peace and housing rights in the country.”


UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager, Christopher Rollo highlighted the importance of partnership with the community in building the resettlement site.

“Now in the time of Covid-19, more than ever, a house becomes a matter of life and death. When everybody is encouraged to stay at home, wash hands regularly, and practice physical distancing, the houses we are inaugurating today make compliance to these basic guidelines possible. We are inspired by the homeowners associations and families who have patiently worked with us in this journey, together with our partners from national and local government, CSOs, and private sector. These houses are particularly special because they are designed with the families themselves who incorporated elements of the Maranao culture into the design. Our home partners were involved in the whole process from planning to actual construction, purchasing, quality control and monitoring. They will also be responsible for estate management as they make this community grow and prosper in peace.”


The two-story core house has a floor area of 42 square meters and built on a 100 square meter lot. Each unit has a toilet and bathroom, a kitchen, basic electrical lighting and outlets, water lines and a sewage piping system.

Abdul Rasad, one of the home-partners, expressed his relief that after the long wait, he now has a house he can call his own.

“Life continues to be difficult after the war and even more so in this Covid-19. The small fruit-selling business I had was affected by a fire that happened two months ago. My family is renting a small space which is too small for my family – my wife and our four teenage sons. Now that we have a place we can call our own, the PhP 2,000 monthly rent can now be spent for food, utensils and furniture for our new house, and other essential needs.”


Home-partners attend the inauguration

Rebuilding Marawi Project Manager Warren Ubongen meet with the community leaders. Photo by Cris Rollo.


UN-Habitat is simultaneously constructing permanent houses in four other construction sites. A total of 1,057 permanent houses are slated to be completed within the year.


See photos of the families in their permanent homes below.

Manila City inception workshop

Five cities have committed to reduce marine plastic litter (MPL) under the Healthy Oceans and Clean Cities Initiative (HOCCI), a regional project funded by the Government of Japan and being implemented by UN-Habitat in the Philippines. HOCCI 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.

As initial demonstration of this commitment, members of technical working groups and local stakeholders participated in the city inception workshops held on December 3, 4, 7, 10, and 14, 2020 for the cities of Legazpi, Ormoc, Cagayan de Oro, Manila, and Calapan, respectively.

Calapan City presents their ongoing solid waste management initiatives during the city inception workshop

During the inception workshops, cities presented their local solid waste management targets and plans, and ongoing initiatives that contribute to the reduction of MPL. The workshops provided venues for local stakeholders and national government agency representatives to share their inputs to and expressions of support for these city initiatives.

Cities leveled off their understanding on marine litter, the NPOA-ML, and HOCCI project through input presentations by the HOCCI project team. They also learned some best practices and drew inspiration from presentations by HOCCI’s international partners, Arcadis Shelter Program and UN-Habitat HQ’s Waste Wise Cities (WWC).

Introduction to the Waste Wise Cities Tool

In preparation for developing local city actions, cities completed the Waste Wise Cities Tool (WaCT) training, a high-level introduction to the application of WaCT, carried out in two batches on January 13 and February 5. Aimed at monitoring the Sustainable Development Goal 11.6.1, WaCT establishes the Waste Flow Diagram (WFD) and identifies measures to address gaps in marine litter reduction. The WFD step gathers information on how much of the generated waste is collected, managed and recovered in controlled facilities, recycled or processed, disposed, and eventually can end up as marine plastic litter. The tool is a valuable complement to their Waste Analysis and Characterization Study (WACS).

HOCCI partners from WWC and WasteAware walked the cities through the WaCT process during the high-level WaCT trainings


Members of the City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office during the intensive WaCT training for Cagayan de Oro City

During the WaCT training conducted by HOCCI partners from WWC, cities were walked through the details of each step of the methodology and practical tips and best practices from past experiences illustrated how these practices can be applied in the local context.

As of mid-February, the cities are at various stages of preparation for the field application of WaCT in their baselining activities.

The cities are set to engage in HOCCI City Marine Litter Action Planning workshops within the first quarter of 2021.


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