Reaffirming PH urban development and housing commitments

Suwon – Faced with mega-trends and challenges brought about by the rapid urbanization in cities, and its impact on residents, over 1,800 participants from 20 countries and 80 cities from the Asia Pacific region took part in this week’s Asia Pacific Urban Forum-8 (APUF8) here in beautiful Suwon in South Korea.

I am honored to be part of the AFUF8, together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Asst. Secretary Ester Aldana, other national agencies representatives, mayors and local government unit officials, as well as key stakeholders from women, youth, business, grassroots sectors, among others.

At the high-level session attended by ministers and senior officials from within the AsPac region, I reaffirmed our country’s commitments. One is to implement the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the other is to continue our initiatives toward Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), to achieve a more sustainable, inclusive and prosperous urban future.

I also reported on the successful holding of the first Philippine Urban Forum last Oct. 5 to 6.

Asst. Secretary Aldana and director Anna Liza Bonagua participated as panelists in the Plenary Session on Urban Finance, and the parallel session, “Enabling Framework to Support Asian Cities Ability to Access Climate Finance,” respectively.

Ministers and officials also released a high-level communique for Sustainable Urban Development in Asia-Pacific that seeks to promote the region’s cities as engines of progress, promote the well-being of all residents, localize the SDG, and reinforce the New Urban Agenda.

In addition, bilateral meetings were held with Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Undersecretary of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), and GIZ (German Cooperation Agency) through Heinrich Gudenus and Neil Suñer of the Urban-Act project.

These meetings were meant to explore the possibilities of expanding the Urban-Act project to include learning materials to facilitate the preparation of climate-responsive land use and development plans.

SDG City

Meanwhile, congratulations are in order for Muntinlupa City and Mayor Ruffy Biazon, for winning this year’s SDG City Climate Action Award – Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program (EECP), for enacting Muntinlupa’s local energy code, and developing a localized EECP to reduce the city’s electricity and fuel consumption through the use of efficient technologies and conservation measures.

For the first time too, the 9th session of the Asia Pacific Housing Forum was held, providing more synergies to both speakers, participants and other stakeholders.

Intended to discuss the issues of homelessness and adequate housing for informal settlements, climate change adaptation, financing and other challenges in housing, the forum aimed to  broaden solutions available to all, so as to bring hope to AsPac urban dwellers now exceeding 2.3 billion, and projected to even grow further by another 1.2 billion by 2050.

I also looked forward to joining the regional urban dialogue, a convergence of six national dialogues where cross-learnings were shared, gaps in policies and programs were identified, solutions and recommendations for informal settlements were highlighted, and cooperation fostered.

In addition, a scoping side meeting on the Urban Housing Practitioners Hub (UHPH) was undertaken to understand the needs of stakeholders to establish a network focusing on accelerating regional progress toward providing adequate housing.

These events not only provided a venue for urban and housing players for discourse, but also planted seeds of partnership that will transcend boundaries. 

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Henry L. Yap is an Architect, Fellow in Environmental Planner and Real Estate Management, and one of the Undersecretaries of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.