The Urban Nexus: Experiences and Challenges in the Philippines

In an effort to further reach out to local governments and present its ongoing sustainability programs, ICLEI Southeast Asia Secretariat (ICLEI SEAS) hosted two sessions at the 2015 Urban Environmental Accords Summit held in Iloilo City, Philippines, on 15-17 September 2015.

On September 16, ICLEI SEAS hosted the session, “The Urban Nexus: Experiences and Challenges in the Philippines,” based on the project, ‘Integrated Resource Management in Asian Cities: the Urban Nexus,’ implemented by GIZ and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). As implementing partner, ICLEI SEAS assists the pilot cities in the Philippines, Naga and Santa Rosa, in the development of their Nexus initiatives.

The other session, “Empowering Women and Youth for Community Climate Action,” was held on September 15 and organized under the project ‘Community Actions and City-to-City Exchange Cooperation on Climate Change in the Philippines.’

The Urban Nexus seeks to utilize the interaction and synergies across the key ‘nexus’ sectors of water, energy, and food security (land use), and the potential co-benefits arising from integrated resource management. It adheres to the principle of integrated urban planning and the breaking open of ‘silo’ (sectoral) thinking, demonstrated through concrete projects implemented by the pilot cities.

In the session, local government officers from Naga, Santa Rosa, and Baguio City presented a brief overview of each project and the particular strategies that the local government has employed in its implementation. A common theme across these projects is ‘closing the loop’ between the nexus sectors, in particular through improved waste- and wastewater management leading to energy production, integrated in housing and/or peri-urban farming initiatives. The Nexus approach is also observed in vibrant horizontal and vertical linkages across government agencies for the implementation of these projects, key to which is the conduct of National-Local Dialogues organized by GIZ and ICLEI.

Aside from the pilot projects, however, the Urban Nexus is also sought to be ‘institutionalized’ into urban planning in general. To this end, a Nexus Strategy Paper has been prepared by GIZ and ICLEI and was presented at the session. A number of potential strategies for institutionalizing the Urban Nexus were discussed, including institutional strengthening; engaging other levels of government; inter-municipal/city cooperation; and embedding the Nexus within local government plans and policies. Further, a Nexus Checklist may be used to screen infrastructure projects for ‘Nexus-compliance’.

Finally, Nexus integration in the operation of the Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology, a project partner in Naga City, was also discussed.

Representatives from other local governments present at the session were encouraged to adopt the Urban Nexus as a key to sustainable urban development. Incidentally, the ‘urban nexus’ was also mentioned at the ‘Iloilo Declaration’ signed at the close of the UEA Summit as among the ‘trans-boundary issues’ that require attention from its participant communities.

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Panelists at the ‘The Urban Nexus: Experiences and Challenges in the Philippines’ session at the 2015 Urban Environmental Accords Summit (from L-R): Dr. Richard Cordial, President of the Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology; Ms. Cordelia Lacsamana, Baguio City Environment and Parks Management Office; Ms. Erlinda Creencia, Santa Rosa City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO); and Mr. Oscar Orozco, Naga CENRO.