In January 2024, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – National Capital Region (DENR-NCR) started its field assessment and validation of the nominated waterways—esteros, creeks, and rivers—for the 4th Gawad Taga-Ilog: Search for the Most Improved Estero in Metro Manila dubbed “GTI 4.0”.

The activity is one of the tedious processes of GTI 4.0 where all nominated waterways both in Category A (the typical Search for the Most Improved Estero in Metro Manila) and Category B (Batte of the Winners #BattleForSustainability) are going to be validated through field visits based on the set updated and modified criteria for judging.

The validation criteria are based on the four (4) clusters stated in the Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy—Solid Waste Management, Liquid Waste Management, Informal Settler Families and Illegal Structures Management, Habitat and Resources Management, and the Sustainability and Partnership Management—where weights of each criterion and indicators will vary depends on the category.

The series of activities for the validation will take place until January 25 which is being headed by the Chairperson of the GTI 4.0 Board of Judges, DENR former Assistant Secretary Corazon C. Davis. Other members of the board are competent, reputable, and experienced representatives coming from other national government agencies, non-government organizations, the private sector, and academic institutions.

DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan expressed her excitement as to who will be the winners of this year’s contest. “I am truly looking forward to what LGUs, both for two categories, will bring home the titles, that’s the biggest question now, who will it be? The thrill of discovering the champions is almost here – brace yourselves for an unforgettable celebration for this year’s Gawad Taga-Ilog,” she said.

“Since our NCR's local government units already voiced their unwavering support during our July and August "GTI Roadshow" last year, I believe that they are equally enthusiastic this year. They are quite confident and comfortable showcasing their efforts to protect, conserve, and manage their respective waterways in the most appropriate and sustainable ways, among others,” Caancan added.

For both categories, a total of twenty-eight (28) waterways will be validated coming from the sixteen (16) cities and one (1) municipality of the region.