Makati’s example in protecting a city

ROSES & THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - August 14, 2008 - 12:00am

The cities of Makati, Dagupan, Navotas and Albay were recently cited as among the cities in the East Asia region with sound practices for climate adaptation and mitigation in the “Climate Resilient Cities 2008 Primer” produced by the World Bank. The Primer provides a self-assessment tool for local governments, city planners and administrators that will help reduce their vulnerability to disasters induced or caused by extreme weather events.

By virtue of being an archipelago that is prone to typhoons, the Philippines is considered a “climate hot spot” by the World Bank. And “river cities“ in particular are naturally at risk from climate change as they are vulnerable to flooding, rising sea levels and inundation. Dagupan and Navotas, for example are coastal towns, while Albay is located in the typhoon-prone Bicol region. We all know that Makati used to be a swamp land hence it easily gets flooded in certain areas. These cities have implemented measures to mitigate disaster risks and improved local economic activities in the process. Navotas City in particular, has invested on erecting a sea wall and pumping stations along the critical areas prone to flooding.

It is good to know that in Makati City where I live, the local government under the leadership of Mayor Jejomar Binay, has set up strong institutional mechanisms to facilitate disaster risk management through the City Disaster Coordination Council. In fact, it is one of the key cities around the world which has been cited in the World Bank report, for its initiatives in addressing issues on climate change and environmental hazards. Among the various environmental hazards it has to face include the increasing air pollution caused by vehicular traffic and industrial activities, the seismic hazard posed by the West Valley earthquake fault that passes the eastern parts of the city and other faults that could produce large earthquakes in the whole Metro Manila, hazards from flooding caused by frequent typhoons and an inadequate drainage system and the risk from possible eruption of the nearby Taal Volcano.

To set the right directions in preventing hazards and risks from the environment, it has created the Environment Protection Council in 2006, whose primary objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent between 2003 and 2010. It aims to achieve this by planting trees and shrubs under the Urban Greenery Program, strictly implement the anti-smoke belching program, solid waste management program and the use of biofuels and electricity for government-owned transport vehicles to lessen the pollution coming from vehicular traffic. Last year, the Makati City government, in cooperation with Greenpeace launched the E-Jeepney (electric jeepney), under the Green Renewable Independent Power Producer (GRIPP) Program as a way to lessen the use of fossil fuels. It has also converted electric lights to energy-efficient lighting and air-conditioning to lessen electricity consumption in city-owned buildings.

Other city governments must be aware of how their cities are being slowly eroded with increased urbanization and how their resources may be depleted if no drastic measures are implemented. At the same time, global warming caused by climate change are making cities more vulnerable to disaster hazards and risks. Local governments will learn from the Climate Resilient Cities Primer and how our city has used it effectively as a tool for disaster management.

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