Environmental planners: A for sustainable communities

Urban and regional planning, town and country planning, human settlements planning … These are some terms synonymous with environmental planning, a not so widely known profession.

Brief evolution

While a joint Congressional resolution was passed in 1968 declaring the national policy of comprehensive environmental planning, it was only in 1978 that Presidential Decree No. 1308 (PD 1308) or the “Law Regulating the Environmental Planning Profession in the Philippines” was signed to legalize the practice of the profession.

Due to the deferment in the creation of a Board of Environmental Planning (BoEnP), it was not until 1995 that the initial set of environmental planners (EnP) were registered and licensed. Thereafter, regular examinations were held one or more times a year to expand its roster.

In 2013, PD 1308 was superseded.  The original scopes and provisions were expanded and enhanced through Republic Act No. 10587 (RA 10587).

In the new law, the “State recognizes the importance of environmental planning in nation-building and development” and was called to “develop and nurture competent, virtuous, productive and well-rounded professional environmental planners whose standards of practice and service shall be excellent, world-class and globally competitive through honest, effective, relevant and credible licensure examinations and through regulatory programs, measures and activities that foster their professional growth, social responsibility and development.”

Who may practice?

An EnP is a Filipino who is licensed pursuant to RA 10587, has a valid Certificate of Registration and Professional Identification Card from the BoEnP and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

EnPs who were already registered under PD 1308, and of good standing with the accredited environmental planning professional organization at the time, were deemed automatically registered under RA 10587.

Foreign citizen may be allowed to take the exam and be given a Certificate of Registration and Professional Identification Card if he can prove that the country of which he is a citizen allows Filipinos to reciprocally practice within its territorial limits on the same basis as citizens of such foreign country.

In addition, consulting firms, corporations, associations or foundations, and partnerships may engage in the practice, provided that majority of the directors, members of the corporations, and/or partners are environmental planners; have been issued certificate of registration to practice; provided further that the actual practice is carried out by registered/licensed planners.

Scope of practice

The Environmental Planning Act of 2013 defines environmental planning as “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.”

The practice covers the following:

A. Providing professional services like rendering technical advice, plan preparation, capacity building and monitoring and evaluation of implementation involving physical framework, comprehensive land use plans, zoning and related ordinances, codes and other legal issuances for the development and management, preservation, conservation, rehabilitation, regulation and control of the environment; planning and development of a barangay, municipality, city, province, region or any portion or combination thereof; and development of a site for a particular need or purpose, such as economic, ecological, tourism development, housing and other estate development projects;

B. Preparing studies in relation to any of the above activities: pre-feasibility, feasibility and other related concerns; environmental assessments; and institutional, administrative or legal systems;

C. Curriculum development in licensure examinations and teaching in academic institutions, and conducting review courses;

D. Serving as expert witness, resource person, lecturer, juror or arbitrator in hearings, competitions, exhibitions and other public fora;

E. Ensuring compliance with environmental laws including the acquisition of regulatory permits.

Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP)

Chartered in 1969, the PIEP, a non-government, non-profit, accredited national professional organization for environmental planners, started with 23 founding members, and after 54 years – today boasts of 35 local and two international chapters.

The PIEP promotes, advances, and causes the study, practice and development of environmental planning, with members coming from academe, civil society, government and private sectors that serve as policy makers, planning officers and coordinators, office and field staff, researchers, academicians, consultants, among others.

In 2015, the number of EnPs breached a thousand when the planning license became a mandatory requirement for government employees occupying planning positions. There are presently around 6,850 EnPs.

Its College of Fellows (CoF) is composed of planners who have been elevated to the status of Fellow after having been in good standing with PIEP for at least ten years, have served either as National Board of Trustees or chapter officers, and distinguished themselves in professional practice.


This week in Cebu City, the PIEP is holding its 32nd National

Convention (NatCon) with the theme “Re-imaging Planning Practice in the Age of Climate Change: Bold Ideas and Game-Changing Strategies.”

Focused on the changing environment of the planning practice as a necessary response to climate change, the NatCon serves as a venue for updating EnPs with governmental statutory requirements as well as strategies, latest trends, and technologies that they can use to meet challenges toward environmental stewardship.

This year’s NatCon attracted nearly a thousand face-to-face registered participants while over two hundred more are attending online.

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