Quezon City: Setting up an infrastructure of sustainability Posted on December 7, 2022 (June 20, 2023) by Dinda Years2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 30-day free access to FuturArc App CategoriesMain Feature City Profile Showcase Commentary City Profile / 4th Quarter 2022 Quezon City: Setting up an infrastructure of sustainability by Dr Ann Deslandes December 7, 2022 The Quezon City government positions itself as a leader in climate change mitigation and sustainable development. MDV Edwards/Shutterstock.com Quezon City is the most populous city in the Philippines—2,960,048 at the time of the last census in 2020. Established in 1939, it is known today for its history, nightlife and student population. It is home to 25 universities and more than 40 per cent of its population is younger than 20 years old.1 The land-locked city is shaded to the north by the Sierra Madre mountain range, which includes the La Mesa Watershed Reservation, a protected area that is considered the ‘lungs’ of the Metro Manila region that takes in Quezon City. A planned city that was the former national capital, the Quezon City government positions itself as a leader in climate change mitigation and sustainable development. The city is a member of the C40 Cities Network,2 a global alliance of mayors from 97 cities taking and leading action on climate change, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Government of the United Kingdom, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development. The municipality’s ‘Green procurement’ programme, in particular, has gained worldwide support and recognition for its promotion of sustainable living on the local administrative level.3 Drone shot over the boundary of the La Mesa watershed in Quezon City. Abet Espi/Shutterstock.com The city has a Trash to Cashback programme. Image courtesy of Quezon City Government One of the urban farms in the city. Image courtesy of Quezon City Government What is behind the local and global talk of sustainable urban development in Quezon City, and what results is it getting on the ground? FuturArc interviewed sustainable governance academic Dennis Blanco, as well as Quezon City environmental and waste management chief Andrea Villaroman to find out. THE POLITICAL MACHINERY: PRESIDENTIAL BACKING, PARTICIPATORY GOVERNANCE, AN EDUCATED POPULATION Dennis Blanco, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, lives a little outside of the city. He began our call by noting gratefully that he was “not directly affected” by Typhoon Muifa, which has brought heavy rain throughout southern and eastern Asia.12 Quezon City government documents note that the tropical region’s meteorological monsoon season has been growing more intense since at least 2009,13 a phenomenon caused by global warming, which is changing climates everywhere, placing the city’s built environment and social fabric at risk. Bird’s-eye view of a highway with open space and plastic sorting facilities beside it. Alfacano/Shutterstock.com The city is currently drafting implementation rules for Green procurement that will specify requirements for built environment projects. MDV Edwards/Shutterstock.com For Andrea Villaroman, Officer-in-Charge of the Quezon City Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department, the growing intensity of climate change effects has left no doubt in the minds of most Quezon City citizens that changes in lifestyle and the built environment are essential. “Before,” Villaroman said, “people would say, oh, it’s just a regular typhoon.” “Now they are definitely saying, this is not normal; it is caused by climate change.” At least in terms of talk, Quezon City has long positioned itself as a leader on environmental matters, particularly waste management, having successfully passed a ban on plastic bags in 2012, for example. It seems the rest of the country is catching up. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr promised in his first speech to the nation, following his election in May 2022, that sustainability would be a priority for his government.14 The Philippines has established a Sustainable Development Commission, explained Blanco, with the responsibility for carrying out sustainability plans cascaded down to local governments. Infographic of Quezon City’s ‘clean construction’ plan For Blanco, success of the plans for sustainability rests on participatory governance being in place across the local governments, a structure in which “people can ventilate their views, ideas and priorities for sustainable development”. He noted that in Quezon City, the government’s sustainable development council has 150 members with representation from the private and non-profit sectors to advise the city government. Participatory governance “has become a trend in the Philippines”, Blanco commented, coinciding with environmental sustainability becoming a high priority at the local levels, including in the smallest districts, which are known as barangays or barrios. This is also a requirement across the country due to the terms of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), within which sustainable development is a key plank, and which compels the country to take particular policy action on climate change. [This is an excerpt. Subscribe to the digital edition or hardcopy to read the complete article.] Dr Ann Deslandes is a freelance writer and researcher with a special interest in urbanism, social movements and community development. Dr Deslandes has worked as a researcher in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Sydney; written urban research and theory for academic publications; and published interviews and commentary in Foreign Policy, China Dialogue and The New Humanitarian. She is based in Mexico City, Mexico. Related stories from Philippine Focus: Master-planning Happier Philippine Cities Master-planning Happier Philippine Cities | FuturArc A happier city is the palpable link between well-being and urban planning. This concept takes a kaleidoscopic approach of components … Hue Hotel Wave Front Hue Hotel Wave Front: Activating the beachfront with public access | FuturArc Hue Hotel Wave Front intends to connect local residents with guests/tourists, developed around a common love for the sea and surfing … Read more stories from FuturArc 4Q 2022 Year-End Issue! 1 https://glcn-on-sp.org/cities/quezon-city/2 https://www.giz.de/en/worldwide/QCinCFFprogram.html3 https://www.oneplanetnetwork.org/news-and-events/news/power-public-plate-podcast-episode-1-quezon-cityhealthy-food-people-and4 https://www.c40.org/case-studies/quezon-city-to-start-decarbonizing-electricity-consumption-through-solarization/5 https://www.bworldonline.com/spotlight/2022/06/16/455243/going-green-for-goodmcdonalds-opens-new-solar-powered-restaurants/6 https://www.c40knowledgehub.org/s/article/Cities100-In-Quezon-City-resilient-communities-are-replacing-vulnerable-informal-settlements?language=en_US7 For every 1,500 informal settlement buildings, an average of 1 extra casualty is estimated to occur. Page 7: https://quezoncity.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Eco_Profile_2018_Chapter-7.pdf8 https://www.ucl.ac.uk/dpu-projects/Global_Report/pdfs/Manila.pdf9 https://www.c40knowledgehub.org/s/article/Quezon-City-Health-benefits-of-roadside-vehiclestesting?language=en_US#:~:text=Air%20Pollution%20in%20Quezon%20City&text=Concentrations%20of%20fine%20Particulate%20Matter,2.5%20emissions%20in%20the%20city10 https://opinion.inquirer.net/147538/garbage-politics-inquezon-city-while-manila-simmers11 https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/greenwashingesg/12 https://edition.cnn.com/2022/09/13/china/typhoon-muifashanghai-ports-intl-hnk/index.html13 https://quezoncity.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Eco_Profile_2018_Chapter-7.pdf14 https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/117967815 https://www.manilatimes.net/2022/04/28/news/national/qc-richest-lgu-despite-pandemic-belmonte/184155516 https://quezoncity.gov.ph/qc-c40-cities-launches-actionplan-vs-climate-crisis/17 The ordinance was introduced in 2021 and approved by the Mayor in 2022: https://quezoncity.gov.ph/belmonteapproves-ordinance-placing-environmental-criteria-forcity-governments-purchase-of-goods-services-and-infra/18 https://www.the-possible.com/urban-agriculture-160-farms-in-quezon-city/19 https://www.burohappold.com/news/quezon-citytransitions-to-clean-construction/#20 https://www.burohappold.com/news/quezon-citytransitions-to-clean-construction/#21 https://www.greenpeace.org/philippines/press/11055/companies-interim-waste-collection-schemes-block-phtransition-to-plastic-free-economy-greenpeace-warns/22 https://twitter.com/abscbnnews/status/145035301118472601723 https://opinion.inquirer.net/147538/garbage-politics-inquezon-city-while-manila-simmers24 https://www.greenpeace.org/philippines/press/11055/companies-interim-waste-collection-schemes-block-phtransition-to-plastic-free-economy-greenpeace-warns/ To read the complete article, get your hardcopy at our online shop/newsstands/major bookstores; subscribe to FuturArc or download the FuturArc App to read the issues. Previously Published City Profile City Profile / 3rd Quarter 2021‘Sustaining’ Kandy City Profile3rd Quarter 2021‘Sustaining’ Kandy City Profile / 3rd Quarter 2021Hoi An City Profile3rd Quarter 2021Hoi An Contact us at https://www.futurarc.com/contact-us for older commentaries.