I had the great opportunity of presenting excerpts of the National Environmentally Sustainable Transport Strategy (NESTS) and talk about its implementation at the local level at the recently concluded Green Urbanism Conference. The Conference was organized by the School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP) of the University of the Philippines Diliman in cooperation with the Faculty of Design of Kyushu University, with support from various partners including AusAID. It ran from October 18-20, 2011 at the Heritage Hotel Manila, featuring a variety of topics divided into 5 sessions namely:
- Green Cities
- Green Architecture and Ecological Landscapes
- Green Infrastructure
- Environmentally Sustainable Transport
- Developing Climate and Disaster Resilient Urban Centers
“This paper presented current and past efforts focusing on sustainable transport. Many of these are continuing especially the promotion of good practices in EST that emanate from the national strategy that was recently formulated. The national EST strategy identifies action plans and the corresponding responsible agencies or entities. The key competencies and skill sets that will enable cities to formulate and implement meaningful programs and projects were also presented. More importantly, the paper examined the capacities of cities for transportation planning and recommended for collaborative agreements with local universities with sustainability in mind.
The general observation has been that LGUs are often unaware that certain programs and projects they are implementing or planning actually fall under EST. As such, they are unable to package their programs and projects in a way that can be attractive to both local and foreign support. One main objective of social marketing for EST is to assist cities by capacitating them with the fundamentals they would need to undertake projects geared towards sustainable transport.
The strategies developed for each EST thematic area are collectively called the national strategy and implies responsibility of a national agency for its implementation. Upon closer scrutiny, however, it must be realized that significant impacts will only be attained if EST is successfully implemented at the local level. The role of national agencies such as the DOTC and the DENR is to provide guidance and capacity to cities for the latter to be able to come up with meaningful programs and projects. After all, while big ticket EST projects may be initiated by national agencies, their success will be determined by how these are implemented at the local level. In the Philippines, cities have been empowered for such purposes and localizing national programs and strategies would be essential in addressing enduring and emerging problems concerning transport and traffic.”