Thursday, July 14, 2016

Urban Development Confab Drives Inclusive Growth and Resilience

David Grossman, USAID-SURGE project chief in 2016 Intl Urban Dev Conference

THE “2016 International Conference on Urban Development: Accelerating Resilience and Inclusive Growth” ignites more than 1200 participants on July 12-13 at Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Pasay City and unfolds the urbanization challenges and improvement potentials of emerging secondary cities. 

This is shifting the development on second-tier cities as engines of growth. An effective approach addressing poverty and the inequitable distribution of income based on a study entitled “Ending Extreme Poverty in the Philippines through Urban-Led Growth” authored by Steele, Avila, Miller and Britan. 

This convention is part of USAID’s Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project (launched in November 2011), an activity of the Cities Development Initiative (CDI) under the PFG, advocating the development of conditions for broad-based, inclusive and resilient economic growth in secondary cities.

During an interview, David Grossman, USAID-SURGE project chief and director of Global Programs for International City/County Management Association (ICMA) said that SURGE project has a 5-year timeline that will start on August 2016 with a budget of US$ 47 million.

The project started with six cities like Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga to promote more balanced and resilient urban growth, reduce economic disparities and improve socio‐economic conditions. There will be a baseline assessment of each city’s current conditions and will come up with a development plan of actions tailored for each city. They may add more six participating cities during the course of the project.

To be included in the project, Grossman continued, cities must be within the socio-economic status of a secondary city and must demonstrate commitment to be successful and willingness to learn and apply cutting edge initiatives crucial to city’s advancement.

At the end of the project, he said, the major expected achievements are: urban planning of secondary cities; regional planning diversification creating value chain, better agricultural economy, transportation, generation of new businesses; resilience to weather, climate change and ability to bounce back to all kinds of adversities; inclusive growth, a pro-poor approach that will consider the needs of all segment of the society.  Philippines that is competitive not only in local or national but also in global arena.

During the event, the partner cities showcase their promotional materials, their potentials and demographics that contribute to the current situation of each city.

Conference Organizer and Highlights 

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the conference organizer and the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID’s programs in the Philippines focus on accelerating and sustaining inclusive economic growth through Partnership for Growth (PFG) activities in the areas of governance, economic growth, health and education, and environmental resilience.

The convention aims to promote multi-disciplinary discussions on various issues related to urban development, such as improvement of water access and sanitation services; enhancing business climate for investments; promoting social inclusion in urban environments; financing urban development; technological solutions; feeding urban populations; climate change disaster risk reduction; urban planning and infrastructure development; urban land tenure issues; metropolitan arrangements; promoting local economic development; urbanization and housing; promoting innovation through human capital development and low emission development strategies.

It also encourages delegates to create a network of partnerships and build information that will support public and private sector collaboration in achieving safe, livable, and economically vibrant cities.

Conference Participants 

A global learning event where local and international experts, business leaders, change makers from the local and national governments, representatives from donor agencies and professional organizations and representatives from international counterpart cities as well as thought leaders from the USA, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, India and Mexico, civil society, academe and students of urban development convene to exchange innovative ideas, best practices and practical ways to pursue resilience and inclusive growth in the Philippines.

Benchmarking and Best Practices Sharing 

Here are some of the victors of quality public management system, business process improvements and environment resilience that other cities may benchmark.

Albay Congressman Joey Salceda, an economist, governor for three terms and plenary speaker at “Taking up the Challenge of Urbanization” session, shared his experiences on how Albay bounced back to calamities caused by climate change and rise with their Green Economy program.

Senator and Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard J. Gordon, a plenary speaker, reminded the mayors and other local government official to foster a culture of leadership and urge them to develop a culture of preparedness since the Philippines has a plethora of disasters. He stressed that Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, that he co-authored, is available for the strengthening of the disaster response and management capabilities of LGUs.
The Valenzuela City champions 3S (Simple, Speed, Service Excellence) Plus in Public Service Program.

Randy Sison, head of the City Information and Communications Technology Office, explains the technological innovation for urban governance, highlighting the city government’s modern payment matrix. Valenzuela City streamlined business permitting processes with Geographical Information System (GIS) for Business Permits; GIS for Real Property Tax; complete online and electronic payment systems; 3S Plus Automated Building and Construction Permits Application System; Online Business Permit Billing and Payment System; Valenzuela Trabaho, a job-matching web site; Online Police Clearance Application System, the first of its kind in the country; 3S (Sentro ng Sama-samang Serbisyo) Centers, “little city halls” built by the city government at strategic points to bring government services closer to the people; and the city’s joint venture initiatives, projects undertaken with the private sector.

City Administrator Aldrin C. Cuña, represented the Quezon City Local Government shares best practices in electronic payment in real property tax payment in a “Technological Solutions for Urban Development” session. This solution provides an efficient, transparent and innovative way in real property tax payment and disbursement of allowances.

Conference Management and Partners

The Conference is managed by Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST), an international capacity-building NGO headquartered in the Philippines with regional offices in Vietnam, Cambodia and India.

The partners for this event includes: Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), World Bank, UN-Habitat, National Competitiveness Council, The Philippine Institute for Environmental Planners (PIEP) and University of the Philippines – School of Urban and Regional Planning (UP-SURP).


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