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Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) Supports the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by Promoting Good Governance through Governance Hubs in Provincial Road Projects

Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) Supports the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by Promoting Good Governance through Governance Hubs in Provincial Road Projects

EnP. Ermin Lucino, MPM, AICP, PMP®

“ROADS” literally and figuratively pave the way for development. It both serves as a link of the people to basic services and foundation and catalyst for economic development. It means that inadequate and dilapidated roads hinders the people’s access to basic services and economic development and opportunities.

“Paving the Roads to Sustainable Development Goals through Good Governance (Roads2SDGs)” is a national governance reform program in local roads management (LRM) and public financial management (PFM) targeting different provinces in the country. Roads2SDGs is an initiative of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). DILG together with the Department of Budget and Management oversee the Conditional Matching Grant to Provinces (CMGP) project. It aims to improve the quality of the provincial local road network across the country by matching the fund from the national government with good governance practices at the provincial level.

The construction and rehabilitation of roads is aligned with the SDGs. The Philippines is one of the signatories committed to the achievement of these goals.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The goals are interconnected and interdependent. It promotes partnership and pragmatism in making the right choices now to improve life in a sustainable manner. The SDGs provide clear guidelines and targets. It is an inclusive agenda.

Improving access and socio-economic development through construction and rehabilitation of roads supports the following SDGs:

SDGs Contribution of Roads to SDG
SDG 1 No Poverty Connecting communities to basic services and economic opportunities
SDG 2 Zero Hunger Enhancing food security by improving business of markets and profit and productivity of farms
SDG 3 Good Health and Well Being Connecting communities to health services and in turn health services to medicinal warehouses / suppliers
SDG 4 Quality Education Increasing safe access to educational institutions and opportunity for the youth and adults to develop new skills
SDG Gender Equality Ensuring gender responsive roads such as safe lighted pedestrian walkways
SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth Increasing employment and economic access for all including the youth and persons with disability
SDG 9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure Ensuring that the people living in rural areas live within 2 km of an all-season road. Promoting innovative road design.
SDG 13 Climate Action Ensuring resilient designed roads that will better withstand the effects of climate change
SDG 16 Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions Mitigating corruption, increasing transparency and ensuring responsive institutions through citizen participation
SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals Building multi-stakeholder partnerships for effective implementation and maintenance of roads

Blog 1

To get funding from the Conditional Matching Grant to the Province (CMGP), provincial governments are required to formulate and submit a Provincial Governance Reform Roadmap (PGRR) covering the year 2017-2022. The PGRR illustrates the performance targets for each reform area and the strategies to achieve and sustain these agendas. There are seven (7) Reform Areas in the PGRR. Four (4) reform areas are under Local Road Management (Local Road Information Management, Local Road Network Development, Local Road Construction and Maintenance, and Local Road Asset Management) while three (3) reform areas are under Public Financial Management (Internal Audit; Budgeting, Revenue Generation and Expenditure Management; and Procurement).

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the United Nation’s global development network. It advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life for themselves. UNDP help achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. They help (developing) countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results. UNDP Philippines partnered with DILG in the implementation of the ROADS2SDG Program.

Blog 2

The ROADS2SDGs have four major target outputs. These are formulation of quality assurance manual for roads and technical audit tools, governance reforms deliverables by the formulation of guidelines for provincial assessment and PGRR formulation, mentoring/coaching (developing local capacities) in local road management and public financial management, and by promoting citizen participation in road governance.

The G-HUBS (Holistic Undertaking Bridging Solutions for Governance) also known as Governance Hub was initiated by DILG and UNDP to assist in the implementation of the ROADS2SDGs program. The G-HUB is a regional organization that stemmed from a Memorandum of Understanding among the different private and state universities and colleges, Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP), non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs).

The role of G-HUBS in the ROADS2SDG program includes provincial assessment (conduct of courtesy calls, co-facilitation of provincial assessment and promotion of citizen participation), PGRR formulation workshop (co-facilitation of the workshop and promotion of citizen participation), follow-up coaching and mentoring (weaving through the SDGs in the PGRR), finalization of the PGRR until SP adoption (coach CSO participants to lobby adoption of PGRR), PGRR Implementation (organize / mobilize citizens’ monitors and advocate for the institutionalization of citizen-led monitoring), and PGRR Monitoring (advocate for the institutionalization of citizen-led monitoring). The G-HUBs were allocated a modest amount from UNDP to be used in their operation and delivery of outputs.

I belong to the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (CALABARZON) G-HUB. Our convenor is from the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), an international NGO. Members of our G-HUB are representatives from Cavite Stare University (CvSU), Dela Salle University – Dasmarinas (DLSUD), through the Lasalian Community Development Center (LCDC), the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) through its Laguna and Quezon Chapters and the Pinalakas na Ugnayan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Luzon, Mindanao at Visayas (PUMALU-MV). I represent the PIEP Laguna Chapter.

The role of the G-HUB in the ROADS2SDGs program is only until the end of 2019. The CALABARZON G-HUB already conducted courtesy calls to different provinces with regards to the PGRR. There are different levels of awareness among the provinces with regards to SDGs. The G-HUBS are now starting to become resource persons in terms of SDG awareness and localization. These proves the interdependency of the 17 SDGs. It is difficult to specifically focus on roads alone without discussing the other aspects of SDGs not directly related to roads. It is also important to aggressively campaign and promote SDGs in all sectors (private, government, and NGOs/POs). As a matter of fact, the CALABARZON G-HUB is being tapped as resource persons by a province in their activity on Planning and SDG Localization.

G-HUBS role beyond ROADS2SDGs is taking shape as the program is being implemented. It serves as an important stakeholder in promoting good governance and mainstreaming/localizing SDGs at a regional level. Its diverse membership gives it both academic and professional expertise (private/SUCs and PIEP) and relevant advocacies (NGOs/POs). It has the potential to serve as the important third actor (aside from the state and the private sector) that will initiate real change in our country.

Blog 3

Note: Most of the explanations provided are part of the different slides presented during the Preparation of Provincial Governance Reforms Roadmap (PGRR) and Training of Trainers on September 24-26, 2018 in Tagaytay City and CALABARZON G-HUB SDG Localization Training and Meeting on May 22-23, 2019 in Silang, Cavite.

Other information are sourced from the following sites:

https://assistasia.org/news/assist-creative-lab-embarks-on-the-roads2sdgs/

http://www.ph.undp.org/content/philippines/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html

https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/about-us.html

 

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Resilient Cities 2018, Bonn, Germany

Personal Reflection on Resilient Cities 2018 – 9th Global Forum on Urban Resilience & Adaptation held in Bonn, Germany, 26-28 April 2018

Personal Reflection on Resilient Cities 2018 – 9th Global Forum on Urban Resilience & Adaptation held in Bonn, Germany, 26-28 April 2018

Attending the Resilient Cities 2018 9th Global Forum was both an eye-opener and rewarding experience as I was able to gather so many useful information that I could bring back home.

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The first few hours of the first day of the forum was quite intimidating. I met people around the world who are really game-changers with regards to global climate change and disaster management advocacy. Global organizations are really trying to control the 1.5 – 2 degrees increase in global temperature. I realized that these people/agencies who are mostly from developed countries are dead serious in helping our global environment and that I am fortunate that they are here to lead since the effects of climate change is mostly directed in my country, the Philippines.

This is also the first time I’ve heard about the Talanoa Dialogue. It was a participative process involving global stakeholders on getting consensus on what is the current situation, what is our collective goal, and identify strategies on attaining the goal.

I was impressed on how Mayor Ashok Sridharan of Bonn is leading his city and other cities in advocating sustainable cities (SDG 11) and climate change actions. I was awed by the speech of Ms. Patricia Espinosa’s call for action. All of the speakers in the opening program were impressive. The general message that I got from the plenary is that: 1. We have to know the current situation and understand the do-nothing scenario, 2. We need to act now if we want to effect change, and 3. We need to work together.

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I started to feel I belong to this forum during theme session A. I connected with the presenters who are similar to me are doing their best to institute positive changes in their cities. I attended A2 Brokering new partnerships and stimulating private sector engagement for resilience. All the presenters were great with their presentations.

The topic Jersey City: 6 Key Resiliency Planning Documents piqued my utmost interest. As a city and urban planner, one of my responsibilities is to facilitate land use planning and supervise implementation of the zoning code. I have been to Jersey City and I admire their innovative zoning strategies. These are the things I only read in books and they are implementing it. I asked a question during the session on how the local council accepted the plan. The idea is to give up immediate economic benefits of the city for the long-term environment benefits.

I just had our city land use plan and zoning code approved. We mainstreamed climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction management mitigation in the 9-year plan. Our plan is quite far from the advance strategies in the New Jersey plan. Knowing these strategies can be implemented in other areas made me feel confident that when it is time for us to update our plan, we can institute similar strategies given our local context.

I attended B4 Achieving social cohesion through inclusive resilience-building in theme session B. The topics and presenters again were all great. Aside from my co-Filipino presenter Marie Angelique Go’s presentation Build back better Zamboanga, my interest zoomed in to the presentation of Gerardo Berthin and Simon Griffiths.

Gerardo Berthin’s presentation is Four ways to support local service delivery in expanding urban environments. He discussed the importance of (1) conducting policy dialogue (2) developing local capacity (3) engaging citizen engagement and (4) promoting accountability and transparency. As a city planner, I engage with these activities on a regular basis. One of my responsibilities is serving as the local development council secretariat. The local development council develops and approve long-term and annual plan of the city for approval of the local council. This seems like a review of my subjects in post graduate studies applied in the real world.

Simon Griffiths’ presentation is Urban resilience bridging humanitarian support and urban development in Somalia. He discussed about local social power dynamics and political situation. These are the realities we faced with daily in the local setting. As a change agent (city planner), I need to develop trust from stakeholders, acquire their collective interest, handle/moderate selfish interests, etc. Simon offered practical advise and situations in the Somalia context.

On the second day, I attended the special sub-plenary session (SP2) Driving transformative climate change adaptation in cities through nature-based solutions. The format of the activity is different and interesting. The first part was an interview with three organizations involved in national and local project implementation. The second part was presentations on why nature-based solutions are key to resilience. The third part was a panel discussion of experts in the field. The last part was the take of the three implementing agencies on the nature-based solutions in their practice.

The main reason I was invited to this forum was to present the city project Eco-Tourism People’s Park (stronger collaboration and resilience for all). I learned from this session that the project may also be considered as a nature-based solution. I need to learn more about the principles of this strategy. I approached Christos Fragakis of the European Commission’s Deputy Head Unit of its Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and told him about our project. He was gracious enough to offer his help and has promised to look into our project details.

I was also invited to be one of the panelists in the session (D5) Bringing the insurance industry and cities together. The facilitator was Butch Bacani, UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative, a fellow Filipino. I told him I am not comfortable about the topic because insurance is not yet mainstreamed or prioritized in the Philippines. He told me that it’s not a problem because people should also hear that there are cities / areas in the world where insurance is not yet wholly accepted. During the discussion, I talked about the insurance acceptance in our city, the reason why it is still low, what the government is doing about it, and opportunities of the insurance industry to fill in the gaps in protecting people and their investments.

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The discussion revolved around the importance of getting data from insurance companies as inputs to evaluating actual effects (quantifying) of disasters and for planning and decision-making activities. The challenge is on how to get the data and how to convince insurance companies to provide the data.

On the third day, I attended the (G5) Preparing for internal climate migration: Introducing Groundswell findings session. Viviane Clement, Climate Change Specialist of the World Bank presented the study clearly. She talked about the findings of the World Bank’s newest flagship report Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration and its implications for inclusive and climate-resilient city. She discussed the pattern of migration among cities, the reason of migration, the challenges of both sending and receiving cities. Ma. Veronica C. Hitosis, Deputy Executive Director for Policy, Programs, and Projects of the League of Cities of the Philippines also explained the pattern of migration and challenges faced by cities amidst disaster in the Philippines. In-migration differs and is context based. It is also important to raise the adaptive capacity and conduct disaster risk management mitigation on areas identified as high risks.

Most of the attendees in the session are urban planners. This was an opportunity for me to share our local issues in relation to in-migration. There are more similarities of the issues we faced even though we practice in different parts of the world.

I was asked to present at theme session (H1) cities in focus: active citizen engagement and participatory urban resilience planning. Here, I presented the city’s eco-tourism people’s park project. During this session, they talked about the importance of partnering with people, developing and using data on participation and approval, and the openness of government to really engage their constituents.

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My presentation began with a brief macro situation of the country leading to the local situation of my city. By using maps, I presented the issues of people living in vulnerable areas, informal settlements, poverty, and inadequate public parks in the city. I then described the project and its sustainable community facets. I discussed the project’s participative approach, how it addresses the identified issues, its challenges and exciting opportunities.

The closing plenary program has the theme measuring progress, enhancing action and anticipating future urban resilience challenges. It was again attended by the mayor of Bonn with his call to collaborative action. Robert Kehew, UN-Habitat, provided the summary of the 3-day forum with the overarching theme of involvement of stakeholders in our goal of attaining sustainable cities. The program’s last topic was presented by Michael Glotz-Richter, Senate Department for Environment, Construction & Transport of Bremen, Germany. Basically, his takeaway message is autonomous driving cars is not the answer to sustainable mobility. Monika Zimmerman, Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI facilitated well the opening and closing program.

The 3-day forum was overwhelming and challenging. Overwhelming because of information overload but instead of getting stressed I still want to attend every session to get something from it. Challenging because the theories l learned are being applied in different world context and makes me think of how l can apply them to my city.

Planning is both science and art. Theory and application. The forum provided most of the theory part. But the practical part is what is happening outside the venue– the daily and quality life of the city’s citizen. I was fortunate to book a hotel located 3-4km from the venue. The hotel booking comes with a complimentary ticket for train/bus ride within the city. Everyday I walk approximately 400m to the train, ride the train (3 stops) and walk again (400m) towards the venue.

Coming from a developing country, there are some things I appreciate that I think people in developing countries take for granted. First is the respect for pedestrian. Having an ample and exclusive space for pedestrian sidewalk clearly shows this respect. Even persons on a wheelchair is safe to use the sidewalk. This encourage people to walk safely and conveniently. Second is the presence of bike lanes. Together with walking, biking promotes non-motorize mode of transportation which is good for the body and for the environment. Third is the presence of ample open spaces (parks) with benches and trees. This promotes outdoor activities and socialization. Lastly is I didn’t have the chance to use my complimentary train/bus ticket because no one is checking it.

The story in my country is different. We prioritize street carriageway than the sidewalks. We do not have bike lanes; we have inadequate parks; and public transport fare is increasing. I know the situation between my country and Bonn, Germany is far different but that doesn’t mean we cannot study or benchmark good practices of the latter.

I am excited to work back in my city. I just had our bike lane consultancy awarded to a third party consultant (this will be the first time that we will study having a bike lane). I am excited to study about nature-based solution incorporated in our eco-tourism people’s park. I am optimistic that I can find a project that our city can partner with the City of Bonn. Perhaps enter into a sister city arrangement so that people in my city (elected leaders) will also understand and support the road to SDG 11. We have good policies in our country like mainstreaming climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction management in major plans. Aside from being compliant with our policies, I now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the objective of our policies.

I am also inspired to finish my thesis in my Master of Urban and Regional Planning. My thesis is about complete streets concept application in the local context. I encountered the term complete streets when I was reviewing for the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam in 2017. Bonn, Germany’s street exemplified the complete street concept.

Thank you, ICLEI World Secretariat and the City of Bonn for sponsoring my trip. I gained friends and colleagues from around the world with the same mindset of trying to literally save our world. I met global heroes and I hope to be one of them.

Thank you again and I hope I’ll be invited to future activities and next year’s Resilient Cities 2019 10th Global Forum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020 Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit (LGU) and COVID 19: City of Santa Rosa, Philippines

For several consecutive years, the City of Santa Rosa has always been a Finalist in the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (PCCI) Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit (LGU) City Level 2 (1st Class to 2nd Class). I’ve attended several Awarding Ceremonies watching other cities receive the award. This year, the City finally bagged the award! – 2020 PCCI’s Most Business-Friendly LGU City Level 2 Category!!

As the City Planning and Development Coordinator (City Director) of the City of Santa Rosa, I am trying to reflect and explain in my own lens why the City won the award this year and only became finalists in the previous years.

The PCCI is a non-government business organization in the Philippines. It is composed of small, medium, and large enterprises, local chambers and industry associations representing various sectors of business. The objective of PCCI is to foster a healthier Philippine economy and improve the viability of business in the community. According to their webpage “PCCI is recognized as the “sole official representative and voice of entire private business community” by virtue of Letter of Instruction No. 780 signed by then President Ferdinand Marcos”. Part of their programs is their Yearly Search and Recognition of Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit (LGU). There are three levels for the competition: Provinces, Cities, and Municipalities. City of Santa Rosa belongs to the City Level 2 (1st Class to 2nd Class Cities).

In the past years, the PCCI Nomination Entry Form/Criteria is consists of four parts as follows:
LGU Profile and Fund Source (Internal Revenue Allotment and Locally Sourced Income)
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as number of registered enterprises, new businesses registered and renewals, total investment generated by new business registrants, Real Property units classified as commercial units, commercial building permits issued, LGU Employees, banks, and micro financing institutions. Other KPIs like Power rate per kilowatt, unemployment and underemployment rate, poverty and crime rate incidence, and presence of local chamber/other business organizations were also included.
Qualifying Indicators such as presence of previous year’s Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), appointment of Local Economic Investments Promotions Officer (LEIPO), local ecological profile, incentive code, Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) code or ordinance.
Essential Indicators are for me the most important part of the four criteria. These are series of qualitative questions. The questions are: What are the challenges that affect local economic development in your city / municipality that impedes your ability to achieve the Vision and Mission of your LGU? What are you doing to address these challenges and what are the positive impact of these initiatives?; What are your initiatives to make it easy to do business in your LGU? What are your efforts to comply with the provisions of Ease of Doing Business (EODB)? Are you using the simplified registration form?; How does the LGU attract local and foreign investors to the city / municipality?; and How can the LGU promote competitiveness? What are your programs and the positive result/s of these initiatives?

It is already an accomplishment to belong as one of the Finalists in the PCCI program. However, as a Progressive City with a Progressive Mayor, we do not only want to become a finalist, we want to win and bring pride and honor to our City.

2020 is different. COVID 19 and the Pandemic happened. Everybody was affected. Governments, Businesses, Communities, and down to households and individuals were impacted by the Pandemic. Quarantines and Lockdowns were implemented. People stayed at home and waited for the support from the Government. Public Transport System was suspended. Public Health and Livelihood were at risk. Children stopped schooling early. Majority of Businesses and Companies halted their operation.

This is where the Leaders of the City of Santa Rosa stepped up. When the National Government declared a State of Emergency, the City Mayor – Arlene B. Arcillas called for an immediate Strategic Planning activity. Department heads and component Barangay Captains (lower LGUs) were consulted and a set of activities were drafted as an output. While other LGUs are immediately taking aggressive actions, the City first checked its resources and developed an implementable and sustainable plan of actions and activities as well as local resolutions and ordinances that are needed in this time of crisis. This resulted to a more impactful, effective, and sustainable support to its constituents.

The 2020 PCCI Nomination Entry Form/Criteria includes the previous year’s criteria with additional questions about the City’s response to Covid 19. There are two major questions included in the nomination this year as follows: What are the three (3) current major challenges affecting the recovery, maintenance and promotion of businesses in your LGU/area of responsibility?; and What are the response of the LGU to these Challenges?

The Planning Office with the inputs of several City Departments prepared the nomination and organized the many COVID 19 challenges into three categories: 1. Decrease in Economic Activities / Workforce Concerns and Suspended Operation of Businesses due to Quarantine (For Non-essentials); 2. Operations and Supply Chain during Quarantine; and 3. Crisis Management and General Public Health Issue.

The City Business Processing and Licenses Office (BPLO) led by Ms. Olivia Laurel developed an online registration system using current available and open technologies to ensure efficient and safe (health) transaction in business registration and renewal as a response to the Pandemic. The City did not pay for expensive software and system to implement the Business Quick Registration (QR) project of the City.

The City submitted its nomination on September 15, 2020. On September 22, 2020, the City was chosen to advance to the Final Judging on September 29, 2020. The Final Judging was conducted on-line platform. The LGU presented a 5-minute audio-visual presentation and a 10-minute Questions and Answer with the panel. On September 29, 2020, City Mayor Arlene B. Arcillas along with the City Planning team waited for the city’s panel interview turn in the City Mayor’s Office. Mayor Arcillas answered all the questions excellently specially the Covid-related programs questions.

On October 8, 2020, in the second day of the 46th Philippine Business Conference & Expo, the City of Santa Rosa was awarded the 2020 PCCI’s Most Business-Friendly LGU City Level 2 Category.

So what’s in it for the city? Aside from the bragging rights of the city, it proved that the cities and local government units are frontliners in the fight against COVID-19 and in bouncing back better (forward) toward a resilient future. It showed the importance of the role of the LGUs in maintaining security and promoting public health in the business sector. It showed the interdependency of city programs and why it is important to businesses. It displayed the risk of businesses and the general population to crisis such as the pandemic. The City also exemplified the strong partnership between the business sector and the city government in managing this crisis. It means that it is safe and wise to put your investment and businesses in the City of Santa Rosa.

Congratulations City of Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines!

*picture courtesy of City Government of Santa Rosa, Laguna FB Page

To Learn more about PCCI check this link: https://www.philippinechamber.com/

How I passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) even if I am not from the United States – Benefits of passing the AICP exam

( Put Your Name Here ) , AICP

One of the perks or benefits of passing the AICP exam is you can put the letters “AICP” after your name. People in the planning community will immediately know that you endured the preparation and passed the actual exam. People outside the planning community will ask about the meaning of AICP and it is still cool to tell them about the AICP exam and why it is important.

Having an AICP distinguishes yourself from other planners without AICP. It is not a license but a certification. It certifies that you passed and met the planning standards of the American Planning Association. There are jobs in the United States that prefer to hire AICP certified applicants than non-AICP passers. It is also said that AICP passers get higher income than non-passer.

That is if you are living or working in the US. I am not. I am living and working here in the Philippines.

I am already a licensed Urban (Environmental) Planner in the Philippines. I am working as the City Planning and Development Coordinator (City Planning Director / Head) in my City. What is in it for me to have an AICP?

First is the (modestly) bragging rights. Whenever I am invited as speaker in meetings, conferences, or conventions; it is nice to hear the word US Certified Planner (AICP) in my introduction. It looks good as part of my credentials in my resume. It is a good topic of conversation with colleagues. Hence, the reason I wrote this 3-part blog.

Second is the Planning updates that can be accessed in the APA website. There are numerous interesting topics that can be accessed in the website. It gives you a glimpse on how developed countries tackle problems through urban planning. It also gives you an idea that somehow there is commonality of challenges between developing and developed countries. The difference is how each country approach these challenges. There is a treasure of knowledge and ideas from the website.

Third and last is the access to the Certification Maintenance (CM) topics. These are up to date Planning topics and challenges discussion which has several themes. As an AICP passer, you are now required to earn CM to maintain your AICP. There are free CM on-line seminars, however most of them requires payment.

I am a City (Urban) Planner in a Developing Country earning a very modest income. I am a father of three kids and has limited financial capability. I cannot prioritize paying the CM on-line seminars with my existing salary.

On June 24, 2020, I received an email that my AICP membership has lapsed. I can no longer use the letters “AICP” after my name. I am saddened that I am in this situation. I am now in the process on reinstating my AICP membership with the least cost possible. Aside from financial issue, I also neglect to monitor my CM seminars and explore other ways to earn credits. Perhaps I’ll write a Blog Entry in the future on How I Reinstated my AICP.

Having an AICP is great if you are planning to work and live in the United States. Having an AICP gives you a lot of advantages if you are in the US. If you are outside the US, it gives you recognition and prestige that your skills and capabilities are at par with planners in other countries.

I took the exam as a personal challenge. I worked hard for it. I am planning to get it back.

The most important benefit for me is that I learned and proved that I can pass the AICP. I accomplished it even if I am not from the US.

If I can do it, So can you.

To Learn on How to Apply for the AICP exam: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=325

To learn more on How I prepared and passed the AICP exam: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=332

To Learn more about AICP Specific Benefits: https://www.planning.org/aicp/why/

How I Prepared and Passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam even if I am not from the United States

I am from the Philippines. I haven’t worked or lived in the US. Yet, I passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam in 2017.

I usually encounter questions on how to apply, pass, and what are the benefits of passing the AICP exam. This blog is my second blog entry from a series of three entries.

I initially planned to take the exam on November 2016 but due to lack of preparation, I postponed my exam to May 2017. I believe I can pass the exam if I am given an ample preparation time (5 months). The first thing I did is learn all about the procedure, content and context of the exam.

I took the exam in a Prometric Testing Center in our Country which is in Makati City. Makati City is around one and a half hours travel time from my City. I checked the place before the exam day and looked for a hotel nearby where I can spend the night before my exam. This is to really make myself focus and address small stress triggers that may arise before and during my exam.

The content of the exam specifically the Exam Outline and Recommended Readings are sent via email through links to the American Planning Association AICP website. The exam is composed of 170 multiple choice questions wherein there are 20 unidentified questions-in-development that do not count toward the final score. It is basically a 150 items exam.

There are five major topic areas along with the percentage of exam questions pertaining to each major topic as follows:

The exam coverage is overwhelming. I am fortunate that most of the topics are also the same topics I studied when I took and passed the Philippine Environmental (Urban) Planning exam in June 2015. However, the coverage is still overwhelming and I need review materials specific to the AICP exam.

The planning principles and policies are similar (if not the same) in the US and the Philippines. The context of the exam is Planning in the US setting. There are US Constitutional Laws and Court Decisions specific to the US. These are the things I knew nothing about. It took me a longer period of time to learn this aspect of the exam. I concluded that I really need specific review materials for this exam.

On December 2016, I purchased the AICP Exam Prep 3.0 in the American Planning Association Website. I paid $249.00 for the review materials. The lectures are in video form and there are mock exams. I listened and watch the videos whenever I have time. I took the mock exams in the reviewer several times.

Three months before my exam, I listened to the lectures almost everyday before I go to bed, and answered the mock exams weekly. I answered the mock exams repetitively until I reached my target grade which is around 90% correct answers. A week before the exam, I stopped listening to the videos/lectures and focused on answering the mock exams daily until exam day.

I checked-in to the nearest hotel from the testing center a day before the exam. I prepared the requirements and just browsed some mock questions before I slept that night. I was in the test venue one hour ahead of my schedule. I took several bathroom trips to make sure I am really focused for the exam.
I took the exam and felt good after the exam. I believe I gave my best and I look forward to the results.

On July 31, 2017, the result of the exam was released. 376 members of the American Planning Association passed the AICP Certification Exam held in May 2017. I passed the test and one of the seven International AICP Passers, probably the only Filipino.

The result link is https://www.planning.org/blog/blogpost/9131392/?fbclid=IwAR27-3jW7OaiOHHhPmElWBUQawemp1eCZ1qlbZmBzKgoSw_kQh1WFTU5iSg

The Certification came letter thru email and regular mail. I am now AICP certified and can now use the AICP suffix after my name.


I did it!! So what now?

Follow my Next Blog on to learn about the Benefits of passing the AICP: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=340

To Learn on How to Apply for the AICP exam:https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=325

How I passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam even if I am not from the United States – How to Apply for the AICP exam

I am working and living in the Philippines. I took and passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam in 2017. Let me tell you how….

I usually encounter questions on how to apply, prepare and pass the AICP exam. I decided to make this blog entry to answer all those questions. This blog entry on AICP is composed of three parts. The first part is “How to Apply for the AICP exam”, the second part is “How I passed the AICP exam”, and the third part is “What are the benefits of passing the AICP exam”.

First step is to sign-up to be a member of the American Planning Association (APA) (https://www.planning.org/membership/). Membership to the APA is one of the requirements of the AICP exam. You may apply as a Planner, Student, Commissioner, Academic, a Person Outside the U.S. and as an Allied Professional and Citizen. Because I am from the Philippines and outside the United States, I clicked the Membership from Outside the U.S. A list of Foreign Dues Chart was sent to me through email. On October 13, 2015, I paid $45 through my credit card and became a member of the American Planning Association (APA). I renew my membership every year with the APA.

Second Step is to learn all about the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam. You may check it in this link – https://www.planning.org/aicp/. The difficult part in this process is submitting the requirements. The requirements are as follows:

  1. Membership to the American Planning Association (APA).
    I became a member by applying and paying the dues.
  2. Should be engaged in professional planning (as defined by AICP), either currently or in the past.
    I applied for the exam in July 2016. My experience in professional planning at that time includes five years as a staff in the Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator in our City and three years as the City Planning and Development Coordinator (City Planning Head).
  3. Combinations of education and corresponding years of professional planning experience.

To Check Eligibility Requirements : https://www.planning.org/certification/eligible/

In July 2016, I already finished my Post-Graduate Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning, Master in Public Management and an undergraduate Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy.

I am quite confident that I am qualified to take the exam. I sent documents verifying my Educational History, documents describing and verifying my Employment History, and three essays demonstrating my work experience meets APA’s definition of professional planning experience.

On July 30, 2016, I received an email that my application did not meet all of the requirements to qualify for the AICP exam. I learned that my Criterion 2 Essay (Evaluate Multiple Impacts to a Community When Implementing Professional Planning Tasks) did not meet the requirement. I was offered the AICP Candidate Pilot Program to meet the requirements in the future.

I personally think that one of the issues I failed to communicate is that I am the head of the City Planning Department of my City. In the US, the head of the City Planning is called the Planning Director while in the Philippines, the position is called the City Planning and Development Coordinator. If you look at it, the word “Director” is not the same as “Coordinator”. However, they are the same in terms of organizational structure and they are just called differently in different countries. It is the applicant’s duty to explain this in their essays.

I emailed and asked if I can revise my criterion 2 essay. I was given reconsideration and on August 6, 2016, I submitted my revised essay. On September 13, 2016 my November 2016 AICP Exam application was approved.

The third step is registering for the AICP exam. The instruction in the email and the website are really helpful. At this stage, the only thing to do is register and pay in the website. I didn’t immediately register and pay.

On September 15, 2016, upon personal assessment and due to lack of time to prepare for the exam; I asked AICP if I can take the exam on May 2017 instead of November 2016. We had a change of City Mayor and as a City Planner, I need to adjust to the new programs and projects that the new Mayor wants me to assess and implement. AICP informed me that since I haven’t registered for the exam, I can take the next scheduled test.

AICP informed me that my exam application is approved through the May 2019 exam cycle (3 years cycle). I do not have to go through the formal application process which includes the criteria essays and verification documents to take the test on May 2017.

On December 2016, I paid $425 exam fee for the exam. I received a confirmation email with my Eligibility ID. The Eligibility ID allowed me to register the date and venue of my exam in the Prometric website. I chose the only Prometric testing center in the Philippines which is located in Makati City.

There is no turning back, I am registered to take the exam.

Check my next blog on How I prepared and passed the AICP exam: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=332

You may also want to check my blog on the Benefits of passing the AICP exam: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=340

To learn more about How to Apply for the AICP exam: https://planning-org-uploaded-media.s3.amazonaws.com/document/AICP-Guide-Part-1-Certification-Application.pdf#page=24

How to become an Urban (Environmental) Planner? – Qualifying for the Exam

Do you want to be an Urban Planner? Do you think you have the skills and knowledge to become one? Do you want to become an Urban Planner in the Philippines? Are you qualified to become an Urban Planner?


Only Registered Urban (Environmental) Planners are allowed by law to practice the Urban Planning profession in the Philippines. According to Republic Act No. 10587 (RA 10587) an “Environmental Planner refers to a person who is registered and licensed to practice environmental planning and who holds a valid Certificate of Registration and a valid Professional Identification Card from the Board of Environmental Planning and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).” Thus, to become an Urban Planner in the Philippines, you must be eligible to take and pass the exam. What are these Eligibility Criteria required from test applicants?


There are four (4) requirements to qualify to take the Urban Planning (Environmental Planning) Board Exam. The three (3) requirements are the easiest and self-explanatory: a citizen of the Philippines or a foreign citizen whose country or State has a policy on reciprocity in the practice of the profession, of good moral character, and not convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude by a court of competent jurisdiction.


The last requirement involves a combination of Educational Degree and Planning related experience. If you are an incoming student or in college, you may opt to take the Bachelor’s Degree related to urban planning. At this point in your life, you may belong to one of these three (3) situations:


Situation 1. You finished a Graduate degree in Environmental Planning, Urban and Regional Planning, City Planning, Town and Country Planning and/or Human Settlements Planning. Graduate degrees are master and doctoral degrees while Undergraduate degrees are associate and bachelor degrees. Finishing a Graduate Degree in the aforementioned courses will allow the graduate to take the exam without any planning related work experience.


Situation 2. You acquired a Post-Graduate Diploma in Environmental Planning, city and regional planning and/or Human Settlements Planning. There are several schools in the Philippines offering a post-graduate Diploma recognized by the Board of Environmental Planning and the PRC. A post-graduate Diploma course can be finished in 1 and a half year. I finished my Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning in the University of the Philippines in 1 and a half year.


Finishing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Urban Planning and at least one (1) year on-the-job training in planning allows a person eligibility to take the Urban Planning exam.


Situation 3. You finished a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Planning, city planning or urban and regional planning, or town and country planning, or its equivalent.


Urban Planning degree before 2015 is considered as both a Graduate Degree and a Post-Graduate Diploma course. It is just only a few years ago that universities started offering Environmental (Urban) Planning as an undergraduate (Bachelor Degree) course.


Finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Planning etc. with two (2) years on-the-job planning training allows a person eligibility to take the Urban Planning exam.

As per RA 10587 “The on-the-job training required shall be undertaken under the supervision of a registered and licensed environmental planner or the applicant’s immediate supervisor in an agency or organization acceptable to the Board, which is engaged or involved in environmental planning functions or programs.” This means an Environmental Planner (Supervisor) or the Human Resources Management Office of your company (urban planning related company) may provide your on-the-job training certification.


These are the Eligibility Requirements for a person to Qualify to take the Urban Planning Licensure Exam. You need to plan your life first (to be eligible for the exam) before you can actually plan your community. You may need two to five years (2-5 years) preparation to qualify for the exam depending on your experience and academic background.


Welcome to the World of Urban Planning!


If interested, You may check a brief description and definition of Urban Planning in the Philippines at: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=278


You may also be interested to know more about the job / responsibilities of an Urban Planner at: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=269


To Know more about the Eligibility Requirement to take the exam:
https://www.prc.gov.ph/requirements/environmental-planner

What Does an Urban Planner Do?

Dreaming of becoming an Urban Planner? Do you want to become an Urban Planner in the Philippines? What are the responsibilities and job description of an Urban Planner?


We see Urban Planners in news and documentaries explaining what and how things should be implemented to address current issues and problems. Effects of major disasters could have been handled well if there is a plan for it or if the plan was implemented accordingly. Communities can be livelier and bustling with economic activity with site plans. Residential lots are more expensive in masterplanned communities. Poverty can be addressed in social development plans. There are also plans that are so absurd that implementing it would not only waste resources but will also invite ridicule to government leaders.
Planners work in different sectors. There are basically 5 major sectors. First is the Social Sector. Social Sector includes Planning for Health, Education, Housing, Social Welfare, Peace and Order, Sports and Recreation, and Disaster Management. Second is the Economic Sector. The Economic Sector includes the primary (agriculture-related), secondary (manufacturing), and tertiary (services) formal economy sub-sectors as well as some of the informal Medium-Small-Micro Enterprises (MSMEs). Other sub-sectors of the Economic Sector are Agriculture, Business Generation, Cooperatives, Public Employment, etc. Third is the Environment Sector. This sector includes management of land (solid waste), water, and air resources. It deals with issue on pollution, climate change, and judicious and sustainable use of natural resources. Fourth is Infrastructure. This are the tangible projects like buildings, bridges and facility that supports the function of the other sectors. The fifth and one of the most important sectors is Institutional. Institutional sector tackles on the government system. It involves good governance, financial housekeeping, rule of law and others. In the middle of all these different sectors and plans are the Urban Planners.

There are many sectoral plans but there is one major plan that incorporates all of these: Comprehensive Development Plan. As a City Planner, I am often asked if the City have plans. I always answer in the affirmative and ask back if the person asking has a specific sector in mind when he/she asked me the question. Oftentimes, I ended discussing the different sectors. After the discussion and most of time, the person I am talking to appreciates the challenges, complexity, and comprehensiveness of the responsibilities of an Urban Planner.
There is a Philippine Law that governs the Practice of Urban Planning profession in the country. The law is Republic Act No. 10587 also known as “Environmental Planning Act of 2013”. The Law also defines the Scope of Practice of Urban Planners in the country.


Urban Planners provide their professional service in the government, private sector, and non-government institutions. National government include nation government department and agencies while local government Units (LGUs) include special administrative regions, provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. Urban planners are involved in all the sectors. Urban Planners in Private institutions are involved in the development of residential (housing) projects, masterplanned communities, commercial centers, private cemeteries, golf courses, hotels, etc. Urban Planner also work in Non-Government Organizations like Habitat for Humanity Philippines (HFHP), Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands, and other NGOs specializing in various sectors (social, economic, environment, infrastructure or institutional).


Urban Planners are also part of the Academe and as a professional expert may serve as resource persons in community and legal circumstances. Urban Planners’ responsibilities are not limited to the development of plans (in general). Since Urban Planning is a process, Urban Planners are deeply part of Plan / Program / Project Development, Monitoring and Evaluation.


In the Philippines, it is expected that there will be at least one Urban Planner per Local Government Unit (LGU) in the coming years. Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No, 10 Series of 2017 required the appointment of the head of the Local Planning and Development Coordinator in LGUs to be a Registered Urban (Environmental) Planner. This will professionalize and level up the planning development of LGUs.


You may the check Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No, 10 Series of 2017 Here – http://csc.gov.ph/phocadownload/MC2017/MC%20No.%2010,%20s.2017.pdf.


The responsibilities of an Urban Planner are complex, comprehensive and holistic. However, the opportunities to effect change and promote sustainable development outweighs the complexity and challenges of the job.


Welcome to the World of Urban Planning!


You may check a brief description and definition of Urban Planning in the Philippines at: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=278


You may also be interested to check the Eligibility Requirements for a person to Qualify to take the Urban Planning Licensure Exam at: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=286

What is Urban (Environmental) Planning?

Do you want to be an Urban Planner? Do you think you have the skills and knowledge to become one? Do you want to provide solutions to housing issues, traffic congestion, pollution, flooding, poverty, and other systemic problems? Do you think you have the heart and grit to plan communities, municipalities, and cities? Do you want to become an Urban Planner in the Philippines?


Similar to other professions like doctors, engineers, architects, nurses, teachers, etc.; to become an Urban Planner requires a person to pass a licensure government examination. The Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) conducts the examination once a year. Passing the examination would mean a person can practice the profession for the duration of three years (renewable every three years). The person will be a registered professional and may now accept work related to urban planning.


What is Urban Planning? Is it different from an Environmental Planner? Is it different from Town Planning or City Planning in other countries?


There is a Philippine Law that governs the Practice of Urban Planning profession in the country. The law is Republic Act No. 10587 also known as “Environmental Planning Act of 2013”. https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2013/05/27/republic-act-no-10587/

Urban Planning is synonymous with Environmental Planning. It means they are the same in the Philippines alongside regional planning, city planning, town and country planning, and/or human settlements planning. However, Environmental Planning is the term used in Republic Act No. 10587.


“Environmental planning, also known as urban and regional planning, city planning, town and country planning, and/or human settlements planning, refers to the multi-disciplinary art and science of analyzing, specifying, clarifying, harmonizing, managing and regulating the use and development of land and water resources, in relation to their environs, for the development of sustainable communities and ecosystems.” – RA 10587 SEC. 4. (a)


The definition is quite complex and intriguing. I will try to explain the parts of the definition as best as I can as follows:


Multi-disciplinary – This means that there are numerous fields of study, discipline, and professions that make up Urban Planning. Urban Planners come from various professions such as Architecture, Engineering, Public Administration and other Social Sciences, etc. This also means that Urban Planners work in teams. Though in the news, we may hear famous urban planners planning important sites/projects, it doesn’t mean that he/she planned it alone. A reliable team is behind a good masterplan. Issues like pollution, traffic congestion, flooding, etc. need a multi-disciplinary team composed of members from different discipline to analyze and provide viable solutions to these challenges.


Art and Science – Science is a system or collection of knowledge related to Urban Planning. The knowledge is comprised of multi-disciplinary fields of study and discipline. Art is application of this knowledge (Science) in real situations usually providing intervention to current issues, and challenges. Sometimes, a very good plan is shelved because stakeholders does not support or commit to the plan. A good project is sometimes rejected due to political implications. Art and Science in Urban Planning should go hand in hand.


Analyzing, specifying, clarifying, harmonizing, managing and regulating – This shows that Urban Planning is a process. This starts from identifying the issues (present and future) important to stakeholders. This also shows that the team does not provide ready solutions or projects to address an issue. Urban Planners need to analyze the local context or situation and work with stakeholders (support/commitment) in all of the steps of the process. The Planning process should be implemented with, by, and for the stakeholders.


Use and development of land and water resources – Land and water are finite resources. It means that these resources are limited. Land in the countryside is usually used for agriculture (food production) while land in the city is so scarce that buildings (vertical development) are made to accommodate users (residents, commercial, etc.). Land may be used as landfill of solid wastes, housing units, recreational centers, schools and government buildings, factories, etc. Different stakeholders have different ideas (conflicts) on how they will use their land. The Urban Planner make sure that these lands are used judiciously thru the formulation of a Land Use Plan enforced through a Local Zoning Ordinance (Law). Clean Drinking water is also an issue specially in cities wherein they have a remote water source. Over-consumption or wasting of clean water leading to problem in supply affects the health, sanitation, and activities of residents. The Urban Planner should plan carefully on how to secure a sustainable safe water source and ensure pragmatic use of these water resources.


Relation to their environs – Environs are the areas around the site (ex. city) that is being planned. This may be neighboring cities or municipalities, mountainous regions, water bodies, ports, heritage sites, dumpsite, watersheds, etc. The environs provide natural resources and services that affect the planning area. A city beside a denuded mountain will put the city at risk of landslide and flooding. A Barangay beside an ocean is at risk of storm surge during typhoon season. A subdivision project beside a penitentiary will require additional security. An over-extracted or contaminated watershed will affect the water supply of its neighboring towns and cities. Urban Planners plan not only their planning areas but also plans in relation to its environment.


Development of sustainable communities and ecosystems – Sustainable Development in the Brundtland Report is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” There are expected conflicts between the needs of the community at present and the needs of the ecosystem (environment). Natural resources serve as source of livelihood, provide protection and other environmental benefits. Some examples are mangroves, forests, watershed, mountains with mineral deposits or infrastructure raw materials, etc.

Extraction of these resources provide livelihood and development to communities. Over-extraction would usually result in increase risk of danger in communities (specially the indigent communities). The role of the Urban Planner is to make sure that communities extract these resources without endangering their lives and properties as well as ensuring that the future generations will also enjoy these resources.


According to Republic Act No. 10587 an “Environmental planner refers to a person who is registered and licensed to practice environmental planning and who holds a valid Certificate of Registration and a valid Professional Identification Card from the Board of Environmental Planning and the Professional Regulation Commission.” Thus, to become an Urban Planner in the Philippines, you must be eligible to take and pass the exam.


I will discuss about the Eligibility Requirements for a person to Qualify to take the Urban Planning Licensure Exam on my next blog. You need to plan your life first (to be eligible for the exam) before you actually plan your community. You may need two to five years (2-5 years) preparation to qualify for the exam depending on your experience and academic background.


Welcome to the World of Urban Planning!


If you are interested to know more about the job / responsibilities of an Urban Planner Click this link – https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=269

If you want to Know more about the Eligibility Requirement to Qualify to take the Urban Planning Licensure Exam click this link: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=286

How to Localize and Mainstream SDGs at the City Level

It is said that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were crafted using the bottom-up approach. Does this mean that the plans/goals came from City and Community levels? Or only at the Nation level? Is it safe to assume that there is a high understanding and commitment to the attainment of the SDGs at the Local Government Units (LGUs) level? Are the SDGs operationalize in its sense as an actual guide in local development planning and budgeting? How can Cities and Municipalities localized and even mainstream these SDGs?

SDGs are Global Goals enacted and adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015. SDGs are geared on universal call to action to end poverty, protection of the planet and ensures peace and prosperity to all people by 2030. The precursor of the SDGs is the Millennium Development Goals (MGs) 2000 – 2015.

For some LGUs, SDGs are big technical ideas that add to the increasing responsibilities of local public servants. Perhaps it is so big that a local project won’t even contribute to the said Big Goals. These SDGs requires baseline data that is not readily available and LGUs have difficulty producing exact required data sets given its lack of manpower and resources. It is an additional burden coming from the higher-ups. It is very seldom that we hear local officials include in their speeches and communications the importance of attaining the SDGs. It is best to continue doing business as usual taking care of the city and its populace without worrying about these SDGs. What they don’t realize is that if they are governing their LGUs well they are actually contributing to the attainment of SDGs. They just need to embrace and put to heart the importance and commitment to the SDGs.

In the Philippines, the National Agency assigned to collect data on SDGs is the Philippine Statistical Authority. Several memoranda were also released by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to LGUs regarding SDGs. Workshops were also conducted. Did it translate to the actual localization and mainstreaming of SDGs at the local level? I do not think so. It promoted awareness but not to the point of commitment to the goals.

International Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) also coordinated with LGUs with regards to the promotion of SDGs. However, I observed that the sectors mostly targeted are only the Social Welfare, Health, and Environment at some degree. The attainment of SDGs requires all (majority) stakeholders’ support and commitment. The 17 SDGs are interrelated and interdependent in a way that you cannot isolate one SDG to another SDG. It is good that some sectors are already aware and actually conducting activities to support SDGs but we need to get everybody involved.

I would define localization as the adoption of SDGs by the LGU. Adoption may be in the form of an SDG-related program, plan, or activity. It may be a one-time activity or a series of projects. On the other hand, I define mainstreaming as sustainable adoption of SDGs. SDGs should not only be mentioned in plans and programs. SDG indicators should be embedded in the LGU plans, programs, and activities. These indicators should be monitored regularly. This is mainstreaming. Mainstreaming wherein stakeholders are both aware and supportive of the outcome of the SDG (indicators).

A few years back (2013), the Philippines Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) with the help of WorldBank chose the City of Santa Rosa as one of the pilot cities to mainstream Climate Change Expenditure Tagging (CCET) in its Annual Investment Plan (AIP). The CCET purpose is to identify, prioritize, and tag Climate Change programs, activities, and projects as well as to track and monitor climate change expenditures of LGUs. In 2014, DBM, CCC and DILG released Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2014-01 which encourages LGUs to track their climate expenditures in their AIPs. In 2015, DBM, CCC and DILG released Joint Memorandum Circular 2015-01 which introduced the revised guidelines for tagging and tracking climate change expenditures in the local budget and DBM’s Local Budget Memorandum No. 70 which required LGUs to prepare their AIP using the revised AIP form which include a column under the CCET. These policies made sure that Climate Change activities are mainstreamed in the LGUs.

The Philippines has a good experience of mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) and Gender and Development (GAD) down to the level of cities and municipalities (LGUs). This was brought about by clear national policies and guidelines.

In 2010, the Philippine Congress enacted Republic Act No. 10121 “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010”. The act mandated LGUs to mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change in development processes such as policy formulation, socioeconomic development planning, budgeting, and governance. The act also required LGUs to set aside 5% of its annual budget (Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund – LDRRMF) to support disaster risk management activities.

In 2012, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) – National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) -DBM released Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2012-01 Guidelines for the Preparation of Annual Gender and Development (GAD) Plans and Budgets and Accomplishment Reports to Implement the Magna Carta of Women. The PCW-NEDA-DBM JMC No. 2012-01 mainstreamed gender perspectives by identifying (attributing) GAD-related LGU programs, projects and activities in the AIP. Thus, mainstreaming GAD in local planning and budgeting. The JMC required a minimum of 5% of the total budget to be GAD-related. The budget for gender mainstreaming is a way for agencies to influence the entire agency program, plan and budget

Even without such National Government policies obliging LGUs to clearly mainstream the SDGs, City Mayor Arlene B. Arcillas of Santa Rosa in the Philippines took the initiative to mainstream SDGs in the City AIP. Mayor Arcillas asked the City Planning and Development Coordinator (City Planning Head / Director) to conduct an SDG Orientation to all Department Heads and to request them to include the SDG indicators in their Department’s AIP.

Mainstreaming the SDGs in local plans will reinforce local public officials and employees to consciously include SDGs in their regular day to day activities and decision-making. LGUs would also feel that their projects are contributing to the Global Goals (how the small parts fit in the Big Picture). It is also easier to monitor the progress and outcome of projects using the indicators (Monitoring and Evaluation Framework – outcome measurement). Though, not all technical data are readily available at the LGU level, the LGU may start using indicators initially with known data sets. However, absence / inadequate data should not hinder LGUs in pursuing the SDGs. After all, even without acknowledging the SDGs, the LGUs are implementing projects that will directly affect the attainment of the SDGs.

Check your City / Municipality: Are your Local Leaders Localizing and Mainstreaming the SDGs?

Click the AIP SDG Orientation Report Below for Details:

3 Things I Learned from Attending the 2020 BLOXHUB Summer School on Urban Resilience at the University of Southern Denmark

I am elated to be part of this year’s BLOXHUB Summer School on Urban Resilience 2020. The Summer School is under the International Urban Resilience Academy (IURA) program which serves as a platform for education, research, networking and capacity building activities on Urban Resilience hosted by the University of Southern Denmark. The BLOXHUB Summer School Urban Resilience brings together global practitioners, policy makers and researchers. This is the second the year that the University of Southern Denmark in Copenhagen hosted the summer school.

https://www.sdu.dk/en/forskning/sducivilengineering/iura/teaching+and+education+activities/bloxhub+summer+school+on+urban+resilience+2020

The summer school initial set-up was to invite participants to go to Copenhagen to attend the program. However, due the COVID 19 Pandemic, the plan changed and the organizers opted to conduct it on-line. The program itself was challenged by the Pandemic and proved its resiliency amidst the disaster. The conduct of the program served as a simple microcosm of what is happening globally. The program showed its resilience by understanding and analyzing the situation, being resourceful with the use of technology, and engaging the commitment of the participants and the organization as a whole.

But first, what is resiliency to you personally? When can you say that you are resilient? When can you say that your community or city is resilient? There are so many definitions of resilience – from being able to hang on through (survive) tough obstacles, being able to adapt to the current trials, up to being able to anticipate, plan, and not be significantly affected by the disaster when it arrives. My favorite is the UN Habitat definition of resilience which is “the ability of any urban system to maintain continuity through all shocks and stresses while positively adapting and transforming towards sustainability”. Wherever we are in the world, there will always be issues and problems that will come our way, how we deal with these challenges define our state of resiliency.

The lecture part of the program was organized in two ways. First is the General Webinar hosted by IURA wherein anybody can register and attend. The second lecture is the Community Sessions exclusive for participants. The General Webinar and the Community Sessions presents a combination of lectures, reports, tools and methods or presentation of best practices. The Community Sessions served as an in-depth discussion of the general webinar.

This year’s batch is very diverse both occupationally and geographically. Though diverse, it seems that issues in different parts of the world are similar specially in climate change and its effects, governance, and this current pandemic.

Bloxhub participants

We were assigned to different groups and were given tasks and weekly outputs / deliverables.

My 3 Major Takeaways from attending the 2020 BLOXHUB Summer School

1st Takeaway – Importance of Systems Thinking / Approach

A system for me is a group of interrelated parts wherein if something happens to one part it will affect directly or indirectly all the other parts. A system is a defined group of different parts or components. To appreciate a system, imagine an aching tooth, the aching tooth no matter how small will affect the function of your whole body or the performance of your daily activities. It is up to the researcher / student to provide the context or define the boundaries of your system. It may range from a simple to a complicated system. In my example, we can define the system as limited as the oral cavity or as extensive as its relationship to actual work performance or family relationships.

Our group looked at the Water, Sanitation, and Health (WASH) system in informal settlements in Asia during the Pandemic. We analyzed it geographically looking at different contexts, culture, and norms. We also looked at its temporal situation (before and during COVID 19 and what is ideal post-Covid 19). The problem of WASH is already significant in informal settlements before COVID 19. COVID 19 amplified the problem and further put families in greater danger. We also learned that problems go beyond the WASH system. This include poverty, livelihood and land ownership, among others. However, we defined our system boundary to only include access to WASH given the limited time in preparing our outputs.

Systems Thinking / Approach allows you to understand the problem deeper and better and gives you a comprehensive set of solutions. The Summer School advocated consistently the use of systems thinking.

2nd Takeaway – Use of Tools (Systems Approach and Collaborative Tools)

In the absence of face-to-face communication, the summer course used its resourcefulness and maximize the available internet tools that helped in delivering an effective program. All the tools or online applications presented in the course are all new to me. The three new online applications I learned are Slack, Miro Board, and Kumu.

Slack is very similar to Whatsapp, Viber, or Facebook. It is an online messaging application where team members communicate and work together. Similar to other applications, you can send different files through Slack. It is also nice that I can use different apps for different groups. I used Slack for the course while using other apps for personal mode of communication and expressions. https://slack.com/intl/en-ph/

One powerful tool for collaboration is the Miro Board. It helps group work together effectively. There is a common board where members can work simultaneously. It is the main collaborative tool used in the course. It is very effective in brainstorming wherein members may put digital sticky notes as inputs. https://miro.com/

I enjoyed making system maps in Kumu. It is a visualization platform used for mapping systems and better understanding relationships. The map can also be shared with group members and a good tool for collaboration. It provides great visual to the map of the system and the relationship of its elements. We also used Kumu in mapping our solutions / intervention using the Theory of Change. The map is also great as a communication tool to audience and stakeholders. https://kumu.io/

3rd Takeaway – Heart of Resiliency – Vulnerable Sectors

The first meeting of the group involved a workshop that requires group member to personally assess their knowledge (Head), skills (Hands), and advocacies (Heart). It is similar to stating your strengths and weaknesses, expertise and motivation. I was surprised that all of the groups chose to help or focus on the needs of vulnerable sectors.

Some of the participants are from international agencies but the focus of their advocacies are cities and communities and not at the country level. Some of the participants are also urban planners but instead of proposing “big plans” (like those of Daniel Burnham), they also focused on what the community really need and how to improve the daily lives of these communities. The advocacies are not that complicated but will create big impacts to the community.

As a City/Urban Planner, I advocate the localization of Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement, Vision of the New Urban Agenda, etc. in our City. I realized that these big goals are just goals in paper agreed by higher level organization if not localized at the city or community level. These big goals will only serve as lip service if not alleviate the daily situation or struggles of the vulnerable sectors. All communities must be involved and committed to attain this global goal. Communities should be empowered to promote sustainability and resiliency. Probably, these are the reasons why most groups focused on local settings.

Attending the summer course is a great experience for me personally and professionally. Sometimes when you are at the local level, you may feel that what you are doing doesn’t contribute significantly to the betterment of the world. Now I believe that the fight to a sustainable and resilient world starts at the community / city level. I hope that more participants from Developing Countries will participate in the coming years. A very special thanks to the Organizer.

Is your City / Community Resilient?

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My Team – Javed Hussain (Pakistan), Shailendra K. Mandal (India), Ermin Lucino (Philippines) and Gusti Ayu Ketut Surtiari (Indonesia)

 

Local Citizens and Non-Citizens in the Middle of the COVID 19 Pandemic

Everything stood still during the Pandemic Lockdown. Schools, restaurants, businesses and public transportation, among others, stopped or operated in a limited capacity. Most of the people waited for the government to provide support in terms of financial assistance and food packages. The situation revealed two types of inhabitants (Beneficiaries) living in local governments (communities): the local non-citizens and the citizens.

First let us define what are citizens. Citizens are those who are living or resides in the community that are registered voters and/or included in the masterlist (whether as senior citizen, person with disability, solo parent, etc.) of the local government. Non-citizens are those living in the community who are not registered voters and does not directly deal with the local government. Usually these are the transient workers, company workers, stranded people, and those who by choice doesn’t want to engage or be part of the community.

During the pandemic (or any other disasters), the local government procures and prepares supplies for distribution and formulate programs to support its people. The local government uses the masterlist in identifying the number of food packages or the budget to prepare for the relief operation. However, during the pandemic, many inhabitants took to social media their cries of being excluded from the support. Sometimes, they air their complaints even before the actual distribution of support to the point of accusing local leaders of politicking, corruption, and discrimination.

On the government side, they cannot just allocate resources not based on actual data while on the side of the non-citizens, they are also part of the community contributing to its economy and development. Both sides have strong points. I do not want to decide which is the right argument. I only hope that this incident brought learnings on both sides. This way we can prevent this from happening again when disasters occur (and disasters will definitely occur whether we like or not).

If a person is a non-citizen by choice, he/she should be ready if he/she is not included in the masterlist of beneficiaries. However, being a non-citizen does not exempt him/her from government services such as peace and order, health, environmental programs, etc. Other non-citizens can easily be included in the local government masterlist if they just register in the local Commission on Election (COMELEC) Offices available in all local governments. This is a strong document that you are part of the community. However, take note that if a person fails to vote two consecutive times, he/she will be written off from the COMELEC masterlist. Another way is to get identification card from the local government Social Welfare and Development Office if you are a senior citizen, person with disability, solo parent, etc. There are many ways to become a citizen of the community which requires very minimal effort.

Local Government is tasked to promote the general welfare of its inhabitants (whether citizens or non-citizens). Thus, local governments formulate plans, programs, and activities in promoting what is best to the community. Masterlists are outdated the very time it is submitted and adopted. Everyday a person is being born (die) or transfer to and from the community which is not captured real-time in the masterlist. Local government should be adept in developing projections or actually capturing the number of its inhabitants on a regular basis. The Philippines has a lower level of local government below the city/municipal level. This is the Barangay (Village) local government unit. The duties of its barangay secretary are to keep an updated record of all inhabitants of the barangay containing the following items of information: name, address, place and date of birth, sex, civil status, citizenship, occupation, and such other items of information as may be prescribed by law or ordinance; and to submit a report on the actual number of barangay residents as often as may be required by the sangguniang barangay. Hence, it is the duty of the local government to have an updated record or masterlist. They should also promote the COMELEC registration of the inhabitants by making it accessible and convenient to the (qualified) people.

The Pandemic revealed this simple issue that created a big impact during the incident. I feel that it is both the duty of the inhabitants and the government to reach out to each other. The inhabitants to fulfill its moral duty of registering and voting and the local government to carry out its mandate, improve planning tools, and reach out/encourage its inhabitants to participate in local activities and governance.

I hope we learned from this experience and I hope that as a community, we are all prepared and focused on our next/future challenges.