UN-Habitat organized the Healthy Oceans and Clean Cities Initiative (HOCCI) Culmination and Lessons Learned Conference on September 15, 2023, to showcase and celebrate pioneering local efforts against marine litter. This event served as a platform for HOCCI partner cities and communities to share their accomplishments, experiences, and insights in implementing the Philippines National Plan of Action on Marine Litter (NPOA-ML) at the local level. The conference aimed to emphasize the significance of tackling marine plastic pollution through circular plastics economy and efficient waste management, especially from the perspective of developing countries.
Concluding the three years of HOCCI project implementation, it brought together partners from national government agencies, local government units, private sector, development organizations, NGOs, and various stakeholders.
Christopher Rollo, UN-Habitat Philippines Country Programme Manager, opened the event. The Opening Remarks were delivered by Economic Affairs Minister Nihei Daisuke on behalf of H.E. Koshikawa Kazuhiko, the Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines. Ambassador Kazuhiko underscored the necessity for international and domestic collaboration, Japan’s commitment to reducing ocean plastic litter, and HOCCI’s pioneering role in marine plastic litter reduction through the localization of the NPOA-ML.
Usec. Juan Miguel Cuna, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Officer-in-Charge and Undersecretary for Field Operations- Luzon, Visayas, and Environment, delivered the keynote speech. He highlighted the national government’s initiatives in tackling marine litter and emphasized the crucial role of Local Government Units (LGUs) in implementing the national plan.
At the center of its implementation are local government units, which we thank the HOCCI project and the government of Japan, for engaging the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Calapan, Davao, Legazpi, Manila, and Ormoc… We believe that the achievements and progress observed in the pilot cities through the project can set a precedent for other cities dealing with comparable issues such as inefficient waste collection and polluted waterways.Usec. Juan Miguel Cuna, DENR
Asec. Marcial Amaro, Jr., DENR Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, and concurrent OIC Director of Biodiversity Management Bureau, also delivered an opening message, providing context on ongoing battle against marine litter and underscoring the detrimental impacts on our oceans’ health. He closed his messages stressing the urgent need for collective action to combat marine litter. His message was followed by a photo-op with esteemed speakers and members of the HOCCI Project Advisory Committee.
Project wins and pioneering actions
To commence the presentations, HOCCI Project Manager Engr. Voltaire Acosta provided an overview of the project’s achievements and highlighted the successes of its partner cities, barangays and communities, including crosscutting initiatives such as social inclusion, digitalization, extended producer responsibility (EPR) readiness, and marine litter education Following this, individual city presentations offered valuable insights into unique approaches, policies, and community-driven programs aimed at reducing marine plastic pollution and contributing to the global discourse on effective waste management:
“The Green City of Calapan,” delivered by Mayor Malou Morillo
“Marine Plastic Litter Abatement (MPLA) Initiative: Legazpi City,” showcased its initiative, integrating economic incentives and smart waste management solutions to promote the 3Rs, delivered by Mayor Geraldine Rosal.
“Formulating Ormoc City Policy on Marine Litter Reduction and Solid Waste Management: An Action-based, Experience-driven, and Community-led Approach,” presented through a video with a message from Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez
“Inclusive Plastic Circularity through Improved Waste Data Management Integrated with Technology and Community-Based Solutions,” presented by Councilor Roger Abaday with a video message from Mayor Rolando Uy.
“Marine Litter-Free Magnificent Manila” presented by Department of Public Services OIC Kayle Amurao, with a video message from Mayor Honey Lacuna.
“Enhancing Plastic Circularity by Recovering Plastics from the Ocean through Institutionalized Community-Based Coastal Clean-Up,” presented by Engr. Lankandiwa Orcullo, with a message from Mayor Sebastian Duterte delivered by Engr. Marivic Reyes of CENRO Davao.
In recognition of their exemplary contributions to marine litter reduction and circular economy, plaques of appreciation were awarded to the six pilot cities and all HOCCI partners. The recognition was made even more special with plastic planter plaques made of recycled high-density polyethylene.
The conference was further enriched by three panel discussions on Plastics Avoidance and Reduction Approaches, Plastic Waste Recovery and Recycling, and Digitalization of Waste Collection and Plastic Waste Diversion, including EPR Readiness. Each session was followed by an open forum addressing questions and comments from the audience.
To conclude the presentations, Dr. Vesna Lavtizar from the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies discussed a global roadmap for inclusive circular economy.
A significant part of the closing ceremony involved recognizing HOCCI Focal Points/Offices and Community Partners for their invaluable contribution to the project over the past three years.
The event culminated with messages of support from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, League of Cities of the Philippines, and DENR with hopes that successes and learnings from HOCCI project implementation will be replicated to more local governments and communities nation- and region-wide.