The city governments of Ormoc and Tagum showcased their local plans for resilient and green recovery (RGR) during the City to City (C2C) Learning Exchange held on December 9-10, 2021 simultaneously in the two cities and virtually.
The Learning Exchange showcased local efforts and transformational practices on RGR that would contribute to cities’ ability to withstand and recover from shocks associated with natural hazards, and improve the cities’ social and environmental wellbeing. The two-day event was organized by UN-Habitat through the Building Climate Resiliency through Urban Plans and Design (BCRUPD), a project funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI), and Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).
The event was opened by Mayor Allan Rellon of Tagum City, Mayor Richard Gomez of Ormoc City through his representative, and UN-Habitat Philippines Country Programme Manager Christopher Rollo.
During the Learning Exchange, members of the city technical working groups, representing various office and service units, presented their respective strategies, programs, and projects to help the city bounce back and forward from the impacts of climate change that were felt even more during the COVID-19 pandemic. These RGR projects include improving delivery of basic services such as healthcare and education; interventions for vulnerable groups particularly children, elderly, Persons with Disability, and 4Ps beneficiaries; and designing open and public spaces like satellite and night markets, transport terminals, and tourism sites to boost local economy. Together with the technical and policy staff of DHSUD, they engaged in discussions on implementation prospects of the projects including mainstreaming in existing policies, institutional coordination with national agencies, stakeholder engagement, and funding.
For the participants to have a better appreciation of the RGR plans, they also visited the planned project sites. Tagum participants had a chance to see the Trade Center where the city plans to reopen the Night Market, which was closed because of the pandemic, with enhanced safety protocols n the new normal. They also got to navigate the Bicycle Route, a proposed cycling route that would connect the city’s existing parks and leisure attractions. It will be a continuous route around the city, with 10 designated spots where bikes can park and easily access the parks.
At the same time, Ormoc participant were able to drive by the proposed site of the planned Carpark Building, which aims to develop a resilient building, resolve traffic congestion, provide spaces for other economic activities. They also got to see the esteros that are planned for reclamation and rehabilitation into a network of open and public spaces. Post-site visit, the participants were able to exchange insights and inputs on the proposed projects.
Planning for greener, more resilient cities
The Learning Exchange served as a culminating event for the RGR training program which ran from June to November 2021 through the technical assistance of UN-Habitat and DHSUD.
The technical assistance recognized how the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, climate change, and inequality are linked, and the unique role cities play in building back better. The UN-Habitat’s Report on Cities and Pandemics: Towards a More Just, Green and Healthy Future, recommends city leaders to help build a new urban economy that reduces disaster risk and addresses climate change.
Thus, the city RGR plans take stock of and harmonize existing and new projects and programs directed to protect people, the environment, and local economy amidst climate risks and effects of the pandemic. The envisioned plans support the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), and eventually feeds into the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) through the formulation of programs, projects and activities and annualize investment budget.
“As Tagumenos learned to co-exist with COVID-19, we were able to move forward and we are excited for 2022 as long as work together for the people, we can overcome the pandemic. Let’s keep moving forward, keep learning, be resilient, be adaptive, and let’s make things happen,” said Rellon.
“I hope this activity today will facilitate knowledge sharing and learning between the two cities, and for DHSUD to capture local efforts and transformational practices on RGR that will contribute to resilience building and sustainable urban development,” said Gomez in a message delivered by his representative.
Local experience, national policies
The city initiatives on RGR will not only contribute to local development plans but will also inform COVID-19 RGR policy advocacy at the national level. In particular, the knowledge captured from the experiences of Ormoc and Tagum, will feed into the Resilient and Green Human Settlements Framework being developed by DHSUD.
The framework adapts the vision of the Philippine New Urban Agenda and the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan. As it highlights a paradigm shift from conventional development to resilience building, the framework carries seven result areas namely: resilient population, climate and disaster risk assessment informed land-use planning, balanced, interconnected, and climate sensitive development, multilevel climate governance, green economy, and revitalized housing and basic services.
“COVID-19 gave us the opportunity to pause and rethink how we plan our cities, and we can build back and build forward better. UN-Habitat continues to support cities and the national in our mission to build sustainable, resilient, and green human settlements,” said Rollo.
DHSUD and UN-Habitat continue to consult with the partner cities, key government agencies, and policy experts in finalizing the framework.
Article originally published on the BCRUPD website.