Building climate-responsive cities

Greenpeace Philippines is looking to partner with other Metro Manila cities to integrate sustainable and climate-responsive systems that are incorporated in city development plans as part of its Livable and Sustainable Cities campaign. 

It said the partnership program will be implemented in a grassroots effort that promotes collaboration among citizens, local businesses, and local government units to address urban social injustices. 

Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive Yeb Saño emphasized the significance of local action as a first step towards a “better normal.” 

“The injustices embedded in our current systems are most felt by the people in our cities, so in order for an inclusive pandemic recovery to occur, this is where we must start,” Saño said. “Building livable, climate-resilient and -responsive cities not only ensures an inclusive, sustainable recovery that prioritizes people’s well-being, but also increases our adaptive capacity to face the impacts of climate change and other future crises.” 

Initially, this program will be rolled out in communities in Malabon City after Greenpeace Philippines signed a memorandum of agreement with the office of Malabon Councilor Nadja Vicencio and AKLAT Foundation. 

Under the MOA, the parties committed to integrate green, sustainable policies and programs into city development plans. 

This includes building the capacity of barangay officials in digital technologies, co-creating a green and sustainable disaster risk and reduction (DRR) response, highlighting and supporting community-led initiatives, and promoting local sustainable MSMEs to increase the city’s adaptive capacity. 

“We believe this partnership is the right step towards upholding citizen participation and turning what we learned from our communities into actual policies and programs,” Vicencio said. 

Meanwhile, AKLAT Foundation—a non-government organization established to help socially disadvantaged youths forced to stay out of school and to work—will join in “instituting green and sustainable programs in Malabon and unifying the youth and MSMEs in a common goal for this city,” executive director Marlon Feliciano said. 

A highlight of the program is the pilot rollout of interactive maps, which will provide data on flooding, other climate risks and hotspots, and locations of evacuation centers, overlaid with data on COVID hotspots in the city. 

The Climate and Pandemic Stories map will enable citizens to tell stories of their experiences and concerns involving climate crisis impacts such as more frequent and intense typhoons and drought, as well as rising sea levels. It will also help document their challenges during the pandemic. 

The Sustainable Solutions for Better Cities map, on the other hand, is a crowdsourced map that highlights local community-driven initiatives such as community pantries as well as micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with environmentally conscious practices. 

With the public’s increasing reliance on digital platforms, Greenpeace said the map portal will help local government units visualize technical data and analyze these together with citizen science and on-the-ground experience, enabling a grounded approach in managing climate and pandemic risks.  

“People participation is the most important element in building livable and sustainable cities. In the past year-and-a-half of the pandemic, we’ve seen people coming together in solidarity to overcome challenges,” said Greenpeace campaigner Rhea Jane Pescador-Mallari. 

“The maps provide another platform for people’s voices to be heard. The best urban planners of the city are not just city officials and professional planners, but the people who know their city more than anyone else,” she said.