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MAPping the Future

Why we need Clark Green City, a new metropolis

Around the world, we see the need to address issues such as congestion, worsening traffic, climate change, uncontrolled urban sprawl, soaring populations, poverty and social exclusion.

In the Philippines, there have been numerous debates on transport systems and infrastructure in the capital as the outcry on worsening traffic conditions pepper quad media.

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An employee living in Commonwealth, Quezon City and working in Bonifacio Global City, for example, spends 3 to 5 hours on the road to reach his office. And this is just a 22-kilometer drive. Without heavy traffic, travel time would have been only an hour and 30 minutes. Developed nations also face these challenges but they have better systems and infrastructure in place.

Traffic congestion is not only a major complaint in the Greater Capital Region (Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon) but is also a trigger for major economic losses in the Philippines as reported in a 2014 Jica transport study entitled “Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and Its Surrounding Areas.” To quote this study, “without intervention, traffic costs will likely increase to P6 billion a day by 2030 from today’s P2.4 billion (2014).” The study further revealed that “lower-income groups will be hardest hit by traffic congestion as it worsens by 2030. “Transport costs will be 2.5 times higher,” Jica reports. Given the unabated urban population growth, Metro Manila (MM) and adjoining provinces need to “accommodate an additional two million and six million residents, respectively, by 2030.”

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In the recently concluded elections, strategies to address congestion were noticeably part of the platform of candidates.

Congestion, after all, not only affects every individual plying the streets of the urban core, but also threatens the Philippine economy.

Long-term solutions are necessary. Careful urban planning is key to addressing the inevitable effects of urbanization and sustainability is a goal that should not be compromised.

Adopting best practices

Last April 11, President Aquino broke ground for Clark Green City, the Philippines’ smart, green and disaster-resilient metropolis set to rise in Capas, Tarlac.

This is another vital undertaking of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), a 24-year-old government corporation that built the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and helped establish vibrant economic districts—Bonifacio Global City and Newport City—forged through partnerships with the private sector.

There is growing support for Clark Green City from local governments, the private sector, and international communities.

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Rising from the success of BCDA’s NXCITIES Philippines Forum, the country’s first urban development forum, we in BCDA experienced firsthand the response of an enlightened public.

Clark Green City, is a 9,450 hectare “master-planned metropolis” 80 km. from MM. It is seen as a concrete response to current societal problems arising from urbanization.

Through it, BCDA hopes to establish a new city that promotes healthy coexistence between nature and urban living, and more importantly, uplifts its human capital to reach its full potential in an enabling environment.

We sought the best practices of our neighbors in conceptualizing this metropolis. Singapore rose from a developing country to today’s third biggest economy. And its way to the dramatic turnaround is collective behavioral change.

Singapore tapped on greater public awareness on energy efficiency, effective recycling habits, and green commuting options-in support of an envisioned liveable and cost-effective city.

India’s Futuristic cities also engaged different governing bodies, forged partnerships and involved the citizens in “building economically productive, equitable and responsive cities.”

From Sweden, we learned the importance of allocating government funds for research and development of environment technology, and creating awareness on the benefits of recycling and “green living.”

This  new green global metropolis in the Philippines will usher in economic vibrancy balanced with natural sustainability. Decongestion will be addressed with the intention of relieving cities in MM of their  most pressing problems.

The city builders

At its inception, BCDA pursued its mandate (RA 7227) through the creation of Special Economic Zones within former US military bases.

Subsequently, it supported the expansion of zones through key infrastructure developments such, as the SCTEx; and, created economic synergy among the BCDA Group.

We also partnered with the best global innovative organizations in opening new economic districts of growth in former MM camps, an approach which yielded revenues remitted to the national government, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines as our main beneficiary.

These strategies resulted in increased investment, tourism and employment opportunities in our country for the past 24 years—BCDA’s offering in support of inclusive growth, where people from all walks of life have fair access to opportunities.

Toward decongestion

Clark Green City is the new economic frontier of the country. It will be built where green assets will be interwoven to create a holistic and sustainable development.

It is BCDA’s vital contribution to decongest MM, absorb population growth, but more importantly, sustain the country’s economic performance, being considered one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.

At full development, Clark Green City will have some 1.12 million residents, 800,000 workers and contribute a gross output of approximately P1.57 trillion per year to the national economy or roughly four percent share in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

It is seen to become the focal point of economic development in the country within the next few years.

Everyone’s city

Our country is prone to natural disasters, like earthquakes and typhoons. Two years ago, one of the strongest typhoons hit our country. Communities were not strong enough to withstand Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” prompting the urgent need for a sustainable city.

As BCDA approaches its 25th year, we are committed to build a city that will give rise to a vibrant economy, anchored on sustainable development and inclusivity.

To realize this, we engage the private sector, business leaders, expert urban planners, the academe, local government and other stakeholders.

Cities should empower anyone and everyone. They should be designed to provide equal access to markets and services and should serve as venues for political and social participation.

For in the end, it’s not all about buildings and infrastructure. The heart of every city is its people. And we see our role in building new cities that will benefit generations today and tomorrow.

With Clark Green City, BCDA will raise the bar in city-building in the Philippines.  Decongestion will happen and the world’s best practices in urban development will take place.

(The article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP.  The author is chair of the MAP Programs Committee and Chair of the BCDA. Feedback at <[email protected]> and <[email protected]>.  For previous articles, please visit <map.org.ph>)

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TAGS: Bases Conversion and Development Authority, BCDA, Business, clark green city, Tarlac, traffic, traffic congestion
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