The first International Conference on Human Settlements Planning and Development (ICHSPD) held on July 23-25 at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center brought to the fore issues on and related to sustainable settlements.
Mr. Christopher E. Rollo, country programme manager of the UN-Habitat Philippines, discussed in his keynote address how rapid urbanization poses sustainability challenges to food security, health, education, and other basic services, and on the other hand, how the falling rate of population in the rural areas causes declining importance of agriculture.
Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. who gave the opening message, aired a similar opinion but emphasized food as an important concern of the conference. “Food may be described to be intricately woven with transportation and infrastructure, with housing, with recreation, with economy, and with culture and identity. Thus, there is no way we can realize SDG 11 without paying attention to food security,” he explained.
SDG 11 or the Sustainable Development Goal 11 of the United Nations aims to ensure access to safe and affordable housing and upgrading slum settlements. It also involves investment in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning and management.
Chancellor Sanchez said that ICHSPD as a learning event, could contribute to addressing not only SDG 11 but also food security. With its theme “Tracking efforts in achieving inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable communities,” the Conference aligns itself to SDG 11 of the UN.
Rollo also discussed the need for embracing diversity and culture in cities, enabling the poor to help themselves, and prioritizing housing for national development as some of the key factors to achieve sustainable human settlements.
He encouraged active engagement and partnerships involving the private sector, communities, and all levels of government.
Meanwhile, Secretary Eduardo D. Del Rosario of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) talked about the Building Adequate, Livable, Affordable and Inclusive (BALAI) Program, which addresses adequate, decent, and sustainable housing in the Philippines.
Aside from taking part in plenary talks, the Council also organized a session participated by Philippine key shelter agencies during the Conference.
ICHSPD was organized by the Department of Community and Environmental Resource Planning (DCERP) of the College of Human Ecology (CHE), with Efraim D. Roxas, faculty member, as the conference director.
The event headlined researches on environmental engineering, urban climate change and disaster resilience, wetlands for sustainable urban future, and sustainable cities development.
Public and private sector, international sustainability and human settlement experts, and members of academe participated in the Conference. Among them were Dr. Raden G. Piadozo, dean of CHE; and speakers from the government sectors, namely: Atty. Lloyd Christopher A. Lao, chief executive officer and commissioner of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board and Hon. Herbert M. Bautista, mayor of Quezon City.
Other participants were Maria Theresa Quimpo, president of the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners; Ranell Martin M. Dedicatoria, regional program manager of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives – Local Governments for Sustainability, Southeast Asia; Inhee Chung, manager of the Global Green Growth Institute, Sustainability and Safeguards Unit; Sanny R. Jegillos, senior adviser of the Bangkok Regional Hub; and Dr. Devendra Saroj, senior lecturer at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom. (John Glen S. Sarol)