I recently got introduced to a new group that aims to improve life in our city. It’s a simple goal, really, and yet it’s surprising that so few have focused on it thus far.
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a global group that has the goal to provide a high-quality living environment for the urban residents. ULI Philippines has just been created, and the best part of the local institute is that it is an effort spearheaded by several of the top real estate developers and architects in the country and not just by one group.
All the members of ULI Philippines wear two hats. For example, Charlie Rufino, in his commercial mode is president of The Net Group, and in idealistic mode is the chair of ULI. The neat thing is that Charlie and his ULI members do their best to integrate the principles of sustainability and improvements in living conditions into their for-profit ventures.
John Fitzgerald, ULI Asia Pacific SVP, told me that our city faces many challenges associated with other megacities. As a global, nonprofit, education and research institute, ULI can take its global knowledge and cascade it to our local stakeholders, thus transforming Metro Manila into a true world-class city.
ULI recently held a forum that outlines 10 principles for our city’s sustainable development. I liked the very first one best—to create One Metro Manila. If we have a common goal and vision, we can create a “brand” based on our own unique culture. Think I<NY and find something like it for Manila.
The other principles are not surprising to see on the list—to improve urban mobility is an obvious one, given our infamous traffic situation; to make beautiful places is again a clearly needed principle but one to be addressed with the city’s forthcoming Greenprint 2030.
Focus on government
Two principles focus on government—on the need to work together and to establish good governance. In this regard, ULI proposes the creation of an Urban Development Commission to create a master plan for Metro Manila. It will be even better if all the cities and municipalities in our city would become part of ULI.
Two other principles focus on people power—on the need to engage everyone and to empower people. It’s certainly true that we all cannot ascribe to the “not my area” thinking, and as the people that made People Power an international byword, we should be the first to get everyone involved in urban improvements.
The eighth principle is to be prepared, and given the recent natural disasters we have experienced and the threat of the escalation of these from global warming, we should all hope that this principle is addressed.
The ninth principle is to restore human dignity, and I like this principle since ULI includes all Filipinos living in our city, regardless of their economic situation.
The last principle is to go beyond smart communities. This last one should be the easiest to achieve, on the proviso that the first nine are addressed. All of which is a great future to be envisioned, and one that everyone truly aspires for, if not for us, then for our children. Kudos to the ULI group on their great vision, and I do hope they successfully engage all of us to make that vision a reality.
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