• Designing resilient cities amid climate change

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    Asia Society and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) gathered experts from across the globe in Manila on Wednesday for the second Pacific Cities Sustainability Initiative (PCSI) Forum to increase awareness of the need to build more resilient cities amid the challenges posed by climate change.

    A highlight of the forum was the launch of a “livable and resilient cities competition” to encourage city planners across the country to design and prepare better in the face of climate change and more frequent natural disasters.

    In launching the design contest, the forum leaders said they hope to start a movement for better urban planning across the country to make their cities fun, vibrant and safe places to live, work, invest in and visit. This would also build a competitive country that is based on competitive cities, said Guillermo Luz, National Competitiveness Council chairman and private sector co- chairman of the forum.

    Cities that have so far signed up for the competition include Angeles, Bacolod, Baguio, Baybay (Leyte), Butuan, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Iloilo, San Fernando (La Union), Legazpi, Marikina, Olongapo, Ormoc (Leyte), Pasay, Pasig, Roxas, Surigao, Tacloban, Valenzuela and Zamboanga.

    Some of these cities will be hosting meetings of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in 2015, which the Philippines is hosting.

    A number of them have been hit by disasters like Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), making them good candidates for livable and resilient urban planning.

    The PSCI forum will give interested mayors and their administrators the chance to draw ideas and principles from the experiences of the gathered expert participants. They will also be provided urban planner-mentors to help them through the design process.

    The two categories of the competition are: developing a disaster-resilient government center and developing an APEC meeting venue.

    The PCSI forum is the first phase of the challenge. The second phase, beginning April, is the mentoring stage where experts would be teaching participants about planning and design concepts for their respective cities.

    While there are no cash rewards, the winning entries and honorable mentions will be encouraged to prepare detailed funding proposals for projects to be funded by the national and local governments, as well as by private sector partners through public-private partnerships.

    Forum speakers included Secretary Panfilo Lacson, the presidential assistant for recovery and rehabilitation; Robert Parker, former mayor of Christchurch in New Zealand; and Dr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who heads the Presidential Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight in Indonesia.

    Doris Magsaysay-Ho, chairman of Asia Society Philippines Foundation, said that the “livable and resilient cities competition” is sponsored by the APEC 2015 National Organizing Council, the National Competitiveness Board, and the World Wildlife Fund with grant funding from the US Agency for International Development, Asia Society, and ULI.

    Kathleen Carey, executive vice president and chief content officer for the ULI, said that the forum would help find opportunities to reduce disaster-related risk and enhance “livability” in the process.

    “I look forward to the knowledge exchange at the PSCI. The forum is an extraordinary opportunity for all of us to learn from each other about ways to improve community resiliency in the 21st century,” she said.

    The PSCI was founded in response to the 2009 stalemate at the Copenhagen talks on climate change to focus on cities.

    The PCSI Forum in Manila organized by Asia Society and ULI is the latest step in a long-term effort to address one of the great challenges of the 21st century
    Carlos Rufino, chair of ULI Philippines, said that the PSCI forum will serve as a platform for key leaders to engage in constructive dialogue, share valuable experience, and practical solutions “to promote international partnerships,” help each other become more prepared, and plan together sustainable and resilient communities for the next generations.

    ”Despite the geographical vulnerability and environmental challenges in this age of climate change, the Asia Pacific region has never been more resilient,” Rufino said.

    The Manila Times is one of the media partners of the event.

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