Metro Manila’s New Urban Core: Ten Principles for Sustainable Development

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APAC (April 10, 2013) – Place making, better urban mobility, increased resilience to natural disasters, affordable housing policies and engaging with an empowered population are among some of the recommendations in a new Urban Land Institute (ULI) report on the development of Metro Manila.

Entitled Ten Principles for Sustainable Development of Metro Manila’s New Urban Core, the report offers recommendations for the city’s development so that it is attractive not just to businesses and visitors, but also provides a high-quality living environment for residents.

“Metro Manila faces many challenges often associated with a fast growing, urbanizing city,” commented ULI Asia Pacific Senior Vice President and Executive Director John Fitzgerald. “The Ten Principles for Sustainable Development Report harnesses the expertise of ULI’s global membership and local stakeholders, and draws upon best practices in urban development from around the world to provide practical advice to help Metro Manila to transform itself into a world-class city.”

“Metro Manila is one of the world’s largest urban areas and one which is likely to continue to grow for some time,” continued Charlie Rufino, The Net Group President & ULI Philippines Chairman. “This report illustrates ways in which the urban area can carry on growing but importantly it sets out recommendations on how this can be done in a sustainable way.”

The report’s recommendations are based on a collaborative approach which canvassed the views of a wide variety of stakeholders through interviews, workshops and focus-group discussions. The report outlines the following ten principles for Metro Manila’s sustainable development, each with their own short, medium and long term objectives:

  1. Create One Metro Manila – The report calls for Metro Manila to have a common goal and vision managed and promoted through a newly created steering committee. The committee should enhance Manila’s international reputation through the creation of a brand based on the city’s unique character and local culture. The report showcases international examples of similar campaigns including PlaNYC and I ♥ NY in New York, “I amsterdam” in Amsterdam as well as the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan created by the country’s Department of Tourism.
  2. Improve Urban Mobility – Metro Manila needs to overcome its congestion challenges through the development of integrated transportation infrastructure. For instance, on major highways in Metro Manila such as the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue commonly known as EDSA, traffic is routinely gridlocked most of the day on weekdays. The report encourages Metro Manila to learn from global transportation initiatives including the Congestion Charge Zone in London and the Bus Rapid Transit system in Curitiba, Brazil.
  3. Make Beautiful Places – Metro Manila should use the city’s forthcoming Greenprint 2030 strategy to put a greater emphasis on place making. The plan should include provisions for improving the pedestrian environment, encouraging the use of cycling and public transportation as well as the introduction of more open spaces to create a liveable and sustainable community. The report showcases examples of best practice including the Center City District in Philadelphia, the Cheonggyecheon Restoration in Seoul, as well as existing projects in Metro Manila such as the Ayala Triangle Gardens.
  4. Work Together – Metro Manila should look to expand its use of public private partnerships as a way of financing and delivering key infrastructure projects. The report highlights a number of successful examples already undertaken in Metro Manila, including the transformation of the former Fort Bonifacio military base into Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and the modernization of the North Luzon Expressway. However, the report also notes a number of challenges to the model, with some agreed projects not implemented due to the short tenure of government officials and lack of strong leadership and funding from the authorities. As a result, the report calls for a sustained and more streamlined dialogue between public and private sectors.
  5. Establish Good Governance – The report suggests the eventual creation of an Urban Development Commission to formulate and implement a masterplan for Metro Manila. The report highlights numerous examples of similar organizations in other cities around the world, including the Harbourfront Commission in Hong Kong, the Urban Design Panel in Vancouver and the Urban Redevelopment Authority in Singapore.
  6. Engage Everyone – Metro Manila should involve its people in workshops, charrettes and community meetings to ensure accountability, responsibility, transparency, inclusiveness, participation, and a sense of ownership for the city’s development in the community. The report showcases the importance of Metro Manila’s Greenprint 2030 strategy in this process and highlights the positive impact this approach has had in West Kowloon and Vancouver.
  7. Empower People – Metro Manila needs to focus on the quality as well as the accessibility of education to help support its economic development. The report calls for Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) in Metro Manila to help narrow the gap between jobs and skills, as well as providing more opportunities and empowerment for the city’s poor.
  8. Be Prepared – The report calls for Metro Manila to address its preparedness for natural disasters by increasing the city’s resilience. Manila needs to review the effectiveness of its current disaster recovery efforts, improve and upgrade the relevant infrastructure and establish an online and mobile relief center to better coordinate the emergency response teams in vulnerable neighborhoods.
  9. Restore Human Dignity – Metro Manila needs to tackle the city’s slums which are plagued by unemployment, high poverty rates, poorly constructed shelters and lack of sanitation. The report believes that an affordable housing policy and delivery is required, drawing from the lessons learned in public housing in both Hong Kong and Thailand.
  10. Go Beyond Smart Communities – Metro Manila should focus on creating more liveable and sustainable communities by facilitating the development of a low-carbon green community, with reduced energy consumption, social equality and local economic improvement. Planning should be undertaken at a regional level, and energy efficient buildings should be developed on infill sites or land adjacent to existing developments.

Ten Principles for Sustainable Development of Metro Manila’s New Urban Core is available for download as a PDF.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute ( is a global non-profit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

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