UN-Habitat, DENR, LCP laud champion cities for marine litter action

“Kung kaya po namin, kaya rin po ng iba.” (If we can do it, others can also do it.)

Leaving her audience inspired and tearful, Welma Fernandez, President of Women Waste Warriors (3Ws) in Barangay 412, Manila, concluded with these words as she shared about how her organization was empowered to grow as part of the city’s steps towards marine litter action, exemplifying how local action can achieve global goals.

In celebration of World Cities Day 2022 which has the theme “Act Local to Go Global,” Fernandez and fellow woman leader Catherine Gabriel of Tagumpay 83Zero Waste Association (TEZWA) proudly presented their experience during an hybrid webinar event spearheaded by UN-Habitat Philippines, in partnership with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) dubbed as “Marine Litter Learning Exchange: Planning City-Level Actions for Global Solutions”, held at the Biodiversity Management Bureau Training Center, October 28.

Fernandez shared that under the Japan-funded UN-Habitat project Healthy Oceans and Clean Cities Initiative (HOCCI), 3Ws was formally organized and they were also capacitated on skills that will enhance their group.

Inaasahan pong magiging fully operational na ang aming social enterprise ngayong taon kaya magkakaroon na po ng regular na sahod ang mga kababaihang mananahi na dati ay kumikita lang pag nakabenta na ng ecobag,” said Fernandez. (We expect that our social enterprise will be fully operational this year and women who previously earn only when they sell ecobags will now receive salary regularly.)

She also relayed that the organization’s garbage collectors and Super Paso (recycled plastic pot) makers who used to be just volunteers are now expected to be regularly compensated soon.

Localization of marine litter action plan

Aside from Manila, the cities of Ormoc, Cagayan de Oro, Legazpi, Davao, and Calapan also shared how their cities are advancing initiatives to address marine litter and in support of the localization of the National Plan of Action on Marine Litter (NPOA-ML). These HOCCI partner cities, together with their local stakeholders, broke ground to complete their City Plans of Action on Marine Litter (CPOA-MLs) within less than a year following the launch of the NPOA-ML of the Philippines.

All cities carried out the same steps in crafting their CPOA-MLs with support from UN-Habitat HOCCI, establishing a pioneering approach for local marine litter action planning.

These include inventory of existing local policies and programs; waste baselining through the Waste Wise Cities Tool and Waste Flow Diagram; knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) surveys; gap analysis vis-à-vis NPOA-ML strategies; crafting the CPOA-MLs; and planning for adoption and/or mainstreaming into local sectoral or investment plans.

UN-Habitat Philippines Country Programme Manager Christopher Rollo, together with officials from DENR, LCP, and the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, led the recognition of the said localities as local champions for pioneering the development of the City Plan of Action on Marine Litter in support of NPOA-ML.

“The DENR supports the conduct of this marine litter exchange to provide a platform for LGUs, NGAs, and other stakeholders, to learn from each other, and to contribute to the strategy set forth by the NPOA-ML. It is also fitting for us to recognize the efforts of these pioneering cities who serve as local champions in localizing the NPOA-ML through local planning and mobilization,” said Atty. Jonas R. Leones, DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs.

Embassy of Japan’s Economic Affairs Minister Nihei Dasuke-san likewise acknowledged the efforts of the HOCCI partner cities for being in the forefront of marine litter reduction as a result of the partnership between the two countries, in a message he delivered on behalf of His Excellency Koshikawa Kazuhiko-san, Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines.

Mayors as local champions

In accepting the recognition, the local government units sent video messages and representatives who delivered their statement of support and appreciation.

“We humbly accept this commendation and commit to be a constant partner of DENR, UN-Habitat, and other stakeholders for the marine litter agenda. Ormoc is one with every city in the world that calls all the citizens in their respective localities, and thereby create a huge impact in the alleviation of marine litter in the global scale,” Ormoc City Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez remarked via recorded video.

Mayor Geraldine Rosal of Legazpi City thanked development partners and affirmed the importance of a healthy marine life for their local government unit.

“We are grateful for our partners who are always in the endeavors to build a livable and sustainable city for our people,” said Rosal.

Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Rolando Uy took pride as their city became the first globally to successfully accomplish the Waste Wise Cities Assessment leading them to effectively reduce the city’s plastic garbage generation.

“This project has provided us with the capacities and tools to come up with effective strategies to manage our solid waste,” Uy emphasized.

For Calapan City Mayor Marilou Morillo, the HOCCI project complements their Green City Initiative and allowed to design and implement pilot programs that address challenges on marine pollution, climate change, and poverty in coastal communities.

“It will not only reduce residual waste that will go directly to the landfill, it will also dramatically improve recycling, and will further create livelihood opportunities to communities, street sweepers, and garbage collectors,” Morillo shared as she looks forward to the implementation of projects under their CPOA-ML.

Along with the city plans of action, plastic 3Rs pilot projects will be implemented through Agreements of Cooperation between the respective cities and UN-Habitat, and will be funded by the Government of Japan through HOCCI, with counterpart contributions from the city governments.

The localized CPOA-MLs are ground-truth models that can be used as guides for other cities in their efforts to protect and reduce marine litter in our seas and oceans.

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