PH Urban Forum a huge success – DHSUD, UN Habitat

The first-ever Philippine Urban Forum (PhUF) 2023 was a huge success — recording the largest face-to-face gathering of urban development stakeholders post COVID-19 pandemic.

The recently concluded two-day PhUF 2023 was attended in person by more than a thousand stakeholders, tackling measures to address simple to complex challenges that the urban development sector is facing.

“I’m still overwhelmed with the participation that you have shown in the forum. After two days, 22 plus two events, and we have an actual 1,303 participants from the national and local government, civil society, communities, private sector and international organizations… mahirap tapatan. The bar started high in this first Philippine Urban Forum,” said UN Habitat Country Programme Manager Christopher Rollo.

The event ended with the signing of an agreement on digital land use and human settlements planning between the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The Memorandum of Understanding on the Development of Integrated Systems to Support the Automation of Land Use and Human Settlements Planning aims to assist local government units in crafting data-driven and risk-based measures to achieve sustainable communities.

In his closing message, DHSUD Undersecretary Avelino Tolentino III, representing Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar, emphasized the crucial need to anchor strategies on science-based policies to guide program implementation toward the right direction and cover all facets of human needs for housing and settlements.

“We hope that this forum has adequately served as a venue to promote a whole of nation approach toward the achievement of Philippine New Urban Agenda,” said Undersecretary Tolentino.

DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. also graced the event, expressing his department’s support to the overarching goal of the forum.

“The DOST with its 18 attached organizations, 16 regional offices and 80 provincial science and technology offices, we will support the advocacy of DHSUD to transform our cities and build resilient communities,” Solidum said.

During Thursday’s opening ceremony, Secretary Acuzar emphasized the need for inclusive and responsive urban development plans and programs.

“Kaya andito tayo ngayon, mga kinatawan mula sa pamahalaan at pribadong sektor, mga kabataan, kababaihan, urban poor… upang sa gayon ay matiyak natin [ang] ating babalangkasin [na] mga plano at urban development programs ay people-centered, inclusive at responsive sa ating pangangailangan at prayoridad,” Acuzar said.

DHSUD’s PLANADO Program on building sustainable communities and DOST’s PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild application for disaster recovery planning will join forces to come-up IT-based tools which will provide more accurate data for LGUs. 

Meanwhile, stakeholders representing different sectors also articulated their statement of support through the Manila Urban Declaration of Commitment and Support to Sustainable and Inclusive Organization.

The DHSUD Environmental, Land Use and Urban Planning and Development Bureau, under the supervision of Undersecretary Henry Yap and headed by Director Mylene Rivera, led the conduct of the forum with UN Habitat and other partner organizations.

PhUF 2023 was part of this year’s National Shelter Month celebration spearheaded by the DHSUD.