Land warriors breathe green to revitalize MetroBy Theresa S. Samaniego
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippines has begun embarking on its first baby steps toward making Metro Manila a more green, livable and sustainable city.
The target may sound ambitious. After all, the world’s fifth largest urban area—home to some 12 million people—has long made headlines for being one of the most polluted and most populated metropolitan areas in the world.
And yet, the Urban Land Institute Philippines, the local unit of the global nonprofit research and education organization, places high hopes on what could be the most revolutionary transformation yet for the country’s political and economic center.
Address Metro woes
To revitalize Metro Manila in becoming more thriving and livable, ULI Philippines recently presented its plans to come up with “10 Principles to guide Metro Manila Urban Core.” Through these principles, ULI is hoping to address problems plaguing Metro Manila—heavy volume of vehicles, roads unfriendly to pedestrians and environmental decay.
The 10 Principles report will be developed under the direction of ULI North Asia project director Dr. Sujata S. Govada.
“Our study focuses on the urban core of Metro Manila which includes Makati, Fort Bonifacio, and the adjacent communities to identify specific issues such as traffic congestion, pollution, lack of infrastructure to sustain growth and our mission is to work together with both the public and the private sectors and the community to address these problems,” Govada explained.
Govada noted that “other cities in the region, such as Hong Kong, have successfully developed ULI 10 Principles following a similar approach and we are confident that we can help develop ULI 10 Principles to guide Metro Manila Urban Core+ to become more livable and sustainable.”
With her on board, ULI Philippines waxed optimistic that it can come up and formulate an alternative approach that will result in more sustainable developments.
The 10 Principles report, once completed, will form part of a larger initiative by ULI to bring together the public, private sector and the community together to have an informed discussion on key issues for better future developments using international and regional best practices as guideposts.
The ULI, a research organization that has nearly 30,000 members worldwide, is dedicated to lead the way in the responsible use of land and to the development of thriving, sustainable communities.
According to ULI Philippines project leader Carlos Rufino, the principles will be developed i n a collaborative process, bringin g multiple stakeholders together to discuss critical urban issues. These principles are expected to guide the development of Metro Manila in becoming more environment-friendly, pedestrian, transit-oriented and most of all, sustainable.
Rufino of The Net Group explained that the group has already begun the workshops and have completed the interview with the different stakeholders, including the NGOs, Fort Development Foundation Inc. and even residents.
“The idea here is to thresh out all the issues concerning sustainability and discuss them in focused group meetings with various stakeholders. We hope to present the first draft for concept approval by November and for publication by February of next year,” Rufino disclosed.
“We want to come up with a ULI document which will be an official publication of ULI Philippines and we will prepare copies for various groups,” he added.
Retrace our steps
Indeed, as the country continues to witness the explosive growth of various commercial, residential and retail developments, making it one of Asia Pacific’s fastest growing metropolitan area, it would also be wise to retrace our steps to ensure that mistakes of the past will not be repeated.
And while the rapid growth that the country has been enjoying at the moment is a cause for Filipinos to celebrate, it will also bode us well to come up with such sustainable principles. These will help us avoid practices that can lead to a potential loss of the country’s competitive edge compared to neighboring cities in the region.
Rufino said that once the final draft of the 10 Principles has been released, they are hoping to then expand its reach and scope.
“We will start expanding and we will go outside of Taguig City to the neighboring cities like Pateros and Pasay,” he said.
“Also, we hope to disseminate the information by sending it to different schools, associations and developers and at the same time get feedback from them which will help us on the phase two of the project which is to bring the 10 Principles in the realm of zoning ordinances,” Rufino concluded.
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