DENR National Capital Region Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan and Pasig City Mayor, Hon. Victor Ma. Regis "Vico" N. Sotto, signed a memorandum of agreement in the implementation of the Climate Resilient and Urban Greening Plan for Pasig City on Monday, 18 April 2022.
The memorandum, signed in the presence of officials and employees of Pasig City Hall during their Flag Raising activity, formalizes the partnership between DENR National Capital Region and the city government in transforming the fourth most populous city in Metro Manila into a climate-resilient community through urban greening.
In her address to Mayor Sotto and other officials, RED Caancan emphasized the importance of improving and increasing the amount of “green spaces”, not only in making the city environmentally healthy but responsive as well to the risks presented by climate change.
Green space is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as any piece of land partly or completely covered by vegetation. These would include parks, community gardens, and other open spaces. Currently, according to the Asian Green City Index report, Metro Manila only has 5 square meters of green space available per person. This is, however, well below the 39 square meters index average, Director Caancan said.
“We need to increase the number of green spaces in Metro Manila and make each and every city and municipality of the region less vulnerable to the impacts of changing climate conditions”, Director Caancan said. Citing the 2021 Global Climate Risk Index report published by environmental policy think tank Germanwatch, Director Caancan said the Philippines ranked fourth among 180 countries most affected by extreme weather brought about by the increase in average global temperature.
“We face an average of 20 tropical cyclones every year”, Director Caancan noted. “It is high time that we prepare ourselves and invest in making Pasig City climate-resilient and environmentally healthy. This is the core message of our celebration of Earth Day this coming Friday, 22 April 2022”, she added. One way of mitigating the impacts of climate change, the director explained, is through urban greening. Trees and vegetation, she said, have a natural cooling effect, potentially reducing surface temperature, by 5°C, to 20°C.
“With more trees and plants, we would have less need for energy-consuming and greenhouse gas-producing air conditioners”, Director Caancan reasoned. “Likewise, we will have less air and water pollution as trees and plants help naturally degrade organic contaminants through a process called phytoremediation”.“Increasing the number of green spaces in Pasig City will definitely benefit its 803,159 residents, both in terms of climate change resiliency and overall mental health and wellbeing”, Director Caancan reminded. She then thanked Mayor Sotto and the City Council for approving the proposed urban greening plan. “Greener living environments are linked to less physiological stress symptoms, lower blood pressure, and reduced mortality”, Director Caancan added.