Cities Development Initiative

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project is inviting you to join the 2016 International Conference on Urban Development: Accelerating Resilience and Inclusive Growth on July 12-13, 2016 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay, Manila. It is the Philippines’ biggest international conference on urban development geared toward realizing the potential of emerging secondary cities. The conference aims to foster multi-disciplinary discussions, create a network of partnerships and build information that will promote public and private sector collaboration in achieving livable, safe and economically vibrant cities.

The conference will gather about 1,200 international and local experts, business leaders, change makers from the national and local governments, representatives from donor agencies and professional organizations, as well as students of urban development who will have the opportunity to share innovative ideas. It will have dynamic plenary sessions, panel discussions and workshops. Moreover, the event will also provide a valuable forum for building professional networks and aiding newly-elected government officials form linkages that will help realize their cities’ potential.

For more information about the conference, please contact the Conference Secretariat at or call 0917-8005396 or 0917-8121289.

To register online, click here.

New and re-elected leaders take on the reins of the Philippines’ strong economy

The May 9, 2016 election was one of the most peaceful, credible, and transparent elections in Philippine history. Voter turnout was high at 81 percent, out of more than 55 million registered voters. The Commission on Elections proclaimed all winning candidates for senatorial and local positions on May 19, followed by the proclamation of the country’s President and Vice President on May 30.

The election also coincided with the domestic economy expanding by almost 7 percent during the first quarter of the year, compared to last quarter of 2015 at 6.5 percent, largely attributed to significant contribution from investments.

According to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel Esguerra, the Philippines was the fastest-growing economy among 11 Asian nations during the first quarter of the year, outpacing expansions in China (6.7 percent), Vietnam (5.5 percent), Indonesia (4.9 percent) and Malaysia (4.2 percent).

The outgoing administration hopes that the incoming government of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will build on these economic gains. It welcomes challenge for new and re-elected officials in accelerating the opportunities for growth while fostering good governance.

Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga are among the cities that have shown strong leadership for local growth and political stability. The six cities are partner cities of USAID under its Cities Development Initiative (CDI), which aims to advance the development of secondary cities as agents of growth that is inclusive, environmentally sustainable and resilient.

Incumbent city mayors Oscar Moreno of Cagayan de Oro, Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo, Lucilo Bayron of Puerto Princesa, John Geesnell Yap II of Tagbilaran, and Maria Isabelle Climaco of Zamboanga were re-elected. Beverly Dimacuha, daughter of current City Mayor Eduardo Dimacuha, is the new mayor of Batangas City.

“River of Gold” mayor talks about urbanization challenges of Cagayan de Oro City

Introduced as the mayor of a city named “River of Gold", Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno spoke about development issues of his city in Washington, D.C. on May 19, 2016 as part of a panel discussing urbanization challenges and milestones from the lens of cities.

“He has just been re-elected as mayor ten days ago,” noted J. Alexander Thier, founder and principal of a new think-tank, Triple Helix. Thier served as moderator of the 2016 Global Development Forum: The Growth of Cities: Fostering Good Governance and Opportunity, organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The first panelist to speak in the high-level forum, Moreno said that in managing his city, “I look at the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is that Cagayan de Oro is a key player in the historically turbulent southern Philippine island of Mindanao. But the new Philippine President is from Mindanao. He is the Mayor of Davao City in the south. Cagayan de Oro is the other big city in Mindanao, and as its Mayor, I look at the region of Northern Mindanao and the island-region in general. Cities are prime movers of growth and development.”

He acknowledged the assistance of USAID, especially with regard to achieving ease of doing business in the larger context of economic dynamism, infrastructure development, and efficient governance—measures, he said, of a city's competitiveness.

The panel discussed current urbanization trends, noting that more than 50 percent of the world lives in cities today. By 2020, this will rise to almost 60 percent.

The panel included Michael Donovan, Senior Specialist, Urban and Housing Development, Inter-American Development Bank; Medellin City’s Fabio Andrés Montoya Isaza, Executive Director, Interactuar; Robert Pepper, Communications and Society Fellow, Aspen Institute, and; Sarah Quinlan, Senior Vice President, Market Insights, MasterCard Advisors.

For more information, visit this link.

City moves forward with Low Emission Development Strategies

In Batangas City, USAID held a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory Workshop for representatives from 82 public elementary schools and 18 public high schools in the city. The workshop was organized by USAID's Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability Project (B-LEADERS) in partnership with the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and the Department of Education.

Oliver Gonzales, Batangas CENRO Chief and President of the Philippine League of Local Environment and Natural Resources Officers emphasized the City Government’s efforts to educate the teachers and engage the academic sector in crafting Batangas City’s environmental policies and low emission development strategies. At least 10 business sector representatives joined the Energy Audit Training that will hopefully culminate in the adoption of innovative and new energy efficient technologies for business firms. Batangas’ CENRO will monitor the completion of the GHG inventory report and will conduct stakeholder consultations to steer the implementation of energy efficiency initiatives in schools and business establishments. This learning session was built on the Declaration of Commitment signed by the Batangas City Government and Metro Batangas Business Club in March 2016.

Also, USAID through its B-LEADERS and Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) Project gathered the 45 delegates of Miss Philippines-Earth 2016 and held an environmental learning session at Hotel Pontefino on May 27, 2016. The learning session is aimed at raising awareness of the candidates on climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency, low emission strategies, mangrove protection and marine and wildlife protection. Since 2006, USAID and Miss Earth Foundation Philippines have been partners in strengthening advocacies on environmental protection. Winners of the Miss Philippines-Earth pageant serve as environmental ambassadors for the country.

USAID’s Toshiro Baum, Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator of USAID’s Asia Bureau, met with Batangas City government officials and Metro Batangas Business Club officers to discuss activities collaboratively pursued by USAID and its local partners in the city. The staff of the Business and Building Permit One Stop Shops shared how USAID supported the automation and streamlining of registration processes, resulting in a more business friendly environment that encourages smaller businesses to register. He visited the Negosyo Center to explore how micro, small and medium enterprise development is encouraged with business opportunities and financing mechanisms. Mr. Baum also toured the city’s Integrated Terminal and International Port, the second largest port in the country. He reaffirmed USAID’s commitment to promoting local economic development through the technical assistance of the SURGE Project.

In Palawan, tribal members of the Balik Calawit Movement and officers of Saragpunta participated in a workshop on wood sculpting organized by USAID's ECOFISH Project on May 23 to 27, 2016 in Coron. The Balik Calawit Movement is the umbrella organization representing all Tagbanwa tribes in Calamianes Island Group. Rey Paz Contreras, a well-renowned Filipino sculptor working with ecological and recycled materials as artistic media, trained the Tagbanwas on proper techniques in sculpting and combining wood with metal to produce sculptures that can highlight their cultural traditions and feature natural wonders found in their ancestral domain. The activity intended to introduce a means of supplemental livelihood to marginal fisherfolk, particularly among the Tagbanwas, who have successfully claimed their ancestral domain titles from the national government.

Improving breastfeeding practices in communities

Elsewhere in May, USAID and EngenderHealth helped establish breastfeeding support groups in selected villages in the Visayas region. This initiative was undertaken to help improve breastfeeding practices, especially during an infant's first six months of life. USAID with the local government units held a two-day training for mother volunteers, parent leaders, and community health workers. To date, 40 local government units in the provinces of Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Bohol, Samar and Leyte have organized their breastfeeding support groups. With support from USAID, the Philippine Department of Health and the National Nutrition Council established 89 breastfeeding support groups in different villages in the Visayas region, with about 800 counselors trained to provide information and improve exclusive breastfeeding practices. The support groups provide breastfeeding mothers with advice, encouragement and continuing care.

Good news from the south: Skills, right attitude bring job to out-of-school youth

Gerald Alantaol, 22, saw his father’s sacrifices in providing for their daily needs. His father’s PhP200 daily earning as an ice cream vendor was not enough to send him to school. Gerald felt helpless as he could not get a job, being an out-of-school youth without skills. But after completing a food and beverage skills training through USAID’s Mindanao Youth for Development (MYDev) Program, Gerald was hired as a waiter at the Secret Recipe Restaurant at Pahali Hotel in Zamboanga City.

Gerald’s contribution doubled the family’s daily income. He felt happy and proud that he is no longer a burden to his father and is able to contribute to the family’s well-being.

He was among the 15 completers of the MYDev Program who recently passed the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) National Certification Level II (NC II) assessment for food and beverage. USAID’s MYDev Program, in partnership with TESDA and the Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System, is supporting young people in Zamboanga City and conflict-affected areas in Mindanao through life skills and educational/vocational skills training to expand their earning opportunities.

Gerald’s 60-year-old father, Al, recognized the value of education and encouraged Gerald to finish the MYDev skills training program. Meanwhile, Florie May Perez, manager of the Secret Recipe Restaurant said that she hired Gerald because of his excellent work attitude, flexibility and multiple skills and competencies gained from the MYDev, particularly through the life skills program.

“I love the way Gerald works,” she said. “He is flexible, really enjoys work, and always smiles.”

Gerald regards his work as a dream come true. “Don’t lose hope because there are still employers who are willing to give OSYs a chance as long as you have employable skills and a good work attitude,” said Gerald.

Developing better land use policies

On May 11 to 13, 2016, USAID's SURGE Project, national government agencies, and the Zamboanga City Government, led by Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco, reviewed the city's draft Socio-Ecological Profile (SEP). The SEP is a key component of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) that describes the city’s physical, biological, socioeconomic, cultural and built environments, as well as development gaps that impact the city’s growth. SURGE facilitated a participatory process for reviewing and updating the city's CLUP. Collaborating with SURGE, USAID's Water Security for Improved Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project reviewed and provided recommendations on integrating climate resilience and disaster risk management in the CLUP and on improving the sections on water resources management and water supply and sanitation. National government officials shared the updated (Philippine) Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board's Guidelines and provided additional guidance on integrating gender considerations. All these information will inform the CLUP to make it more inclusive and holistic, which in turn will help the city government to develop better land use policies.

Cities Development Initiative

USAID is working to strengthen the economic competitiveness and resilience of secondary cities outside of Metro Manila through its Cities Development Initiative (CDI). CDI seeks to advance the development of secondary cities as agents of growth that is inclusive, environmentally sustainable and resilient. Depending on the most urgent needs of the city, USAID provides a range of technical assistance, drawing from resources in economic growth, health, energy, environment, governance, and education to assist the cities achieve resilience and inclusive growth.

The CDI is a crucial component of the broader Partnership for Growth (PFG), a White House initiated “whole-of-government” partnership between the U.S. Government and the Government of the Philippines. The PFG aims to shift the Philippines to a sustained and more inclusive growth trajectory on par with other high‐performing emerging economies. Currently, USAID has 6 CDI partner cities: Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga.

For more information on USAID's projects in the Philippines, click here.

Contact Us

9/F Salcedo Towers
169 H.V. Dela Costa Street
Salcedo Village, Makati City
Philippines 1227
Tel. +632 88-SURGE (78743)


CDI Newsletter Archive : April 2016   |   March 2016