Increasingly rapid urbanization of the Philippines poses a great challenge to the country in terms of achieving sustainable urban development through informed planning and efficient implementation of strategic policies and programmes.

This growth is expected to happen not only in the capital Metro Manila but mainly in small and intermediate cities.

Without a strategic and holistic approach to increasingly complex urban issues, cities will fail to create economic opportunities and protect themselves from environmental risks.

Challenges in urban planning and management

  • CAPACITY GAPS of many cities for better and inclusive urban planning and design
  • OUTDATEDNESS AND LACK OF HARMONY of urban development policies and legal framework — particularly on land management, public spaces, and private sector participation
  • NON-OPTIMAL FINANCIAL CAPACITIES of cities and municipalities
  • VULNERABILITY of cities to climate change, resulting in lack of resilience.

Current and recent programmes

UN-Habitat Philippines integrates sustainable urban development practices into all its programmes, as well as implements demonstration projects on planned city extensions.

Healthy Oceans and Clean Cities Initiative

April 2020 – March 2021

The Healthy Oceans and Clean Cities Initiative (HOCCI) is a project with USD 3M funding from the Government of Japan and for implementation by UN-Habitat in the Philippines in cooperation with global, national, and local partners. It aims to enable local governments and communities in the Philippines to reduce marine plastic pollution.

This will be achieved through strengthened institutional capacity to support the operationalization and localization of the Philippines’ new National Plan of Action (NPOA) on Marine Litter and the development of improved data collection and waste management systems.

Taking an integrated approach, the project operates at different levels:

  • At the city and community level, pilot initiatives are developed and tested, feeding into national, regional and global policies and practices;
  • At the national level, the new policy requires proof of concept and local implementation mechanisms which the project will contribute to, benefitting also from regional (ASEAN) and global practices and policies such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Achieving Sustainable Urban Development Programme (ASUD)

2013 – 2015

UN-Habitat’s Achieving Sustainable Urban Development (ASUD) programme seeks to address urban development issues affecting today’s cities.

Our Response

ASUD addresses the gaps and deficiencies in current urban planning processes and policies at the national and local levels to be able to effectively respond to the complex demands of rapid population and economic growth. It supports cities in developing strategic sustainable urban development plans and implementing demonstration projects, particularly planned city extensions (PCEs). PCEs, as opposed to fringe development, represents an alternative to unplanned urban expansion characterized by sprawling, segregated, and poorly connected developments.

Strategies: Urban Policy and Planned City Extensions

DEMONSTRATE innovative sustainable urban development approaches in integrated PCEs in the pilot cites of Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Silay, and Zamboanga.

IMPROVE urban development policies through extending support to local legislation and through policy advocacy, review, and reform, especially on the National Urban Development and Housing Framework, and the national guidelines for Local Shelter Planning by local governments.

DEVELOP partnerships and link cities to additional financial resources.

STRENGTHEN technical, institutional, and financial capacities of cities in urban planning, municipal finance and local economic development, governance, and implementation through technical input from specialists, city-to-city sharing sessions, and the town-and-gown approach to promote cross-fertilization of ideas and experiences.

INCREASE awareness on urban issues through knowledge management strategies (group discussions, urban information consultations, national conferences, international exchanges, e-learning, and e-discussions).

Download the ASUD Project Brief (PDF)