A call for Manila to boost its sustainability and livability by enhancing transportation network and resiliency against natural disasters

Asian countries have achieved diverging results in the 2018 Sustainable Cities Index from Arcadis, the leading global Design & Consultancy for natural and built assets. While European cities dominate the top of the overall Index, three Asian representatives made it to the top 20 – Singapore was ranked #4, Hong Kong #9, and Seoul #13. Various Asian cities including Manila, however, feature at the bottom of the rankings due to its low scores on sustainability despite promising economic growth.

The Sustainable Cities Index (SCI) ranks 100 global cities on three pillars of sustainability: People, Planet and Profit. The three pillars are closely aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Manila is a typical Evolutionary City, a cluster identified by the 2018 Index. An Evolutionary city is a city that undergoes rapid growth, and a key challenge for them is the level of disruption arising at the turning point of their trajectory. This disruption might affect jobs, crime levels and even mobility choices. Support from enterprises and the local community is important in shaping a positive citizen experience as the city gains momentum in improving the quality of life.

According to the report, cities need to focus on well planned long-term resilience, even if they are subject to short-term changes and trends. The successful path to long-term resilience requires the support and involvement of citizens, while at the same time cities can also learn from each other.

The SCI data consistently highlights that the foundations of city sustainability are an educated and healthy workforce, effective low-carbon infrastructure and ease of doing business. Affordability, access to public transport and income inequality are the big swing variables that make or break a city’s sustainable success.

Ross McKenzie, Country Head of the Philippines, comments: “Infrastructure development is accelerating in Manila, providing much needed expansion to support the future requirements of the rapidly urbanizing city. With so much advancement in construction innovation technology in recent years, Manila is poised to develop solutions that are resilient to future risks while remaining cost effective. With much of the progress being supported and driven by the private sector, city policy makers will play a key role by helping create long-term sustainable policies and embrace International best practice and lessons learnt. Local businesses will need to adapt to manage the mobility and resiliency challenges in the next few years while development continues.”

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Introvert, wanderer, blogger, foodie, a hip-hop music writer, and one of the co-founders of a tech start-up company called GigsManila.