In a bid to improve public and environmental health amidst the continuing threat of Covid-19 and climate change, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) joined the Departments of Health (DOH), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in the signing of the Joint Administrative Order on the promotion of Healthy Open Spaces on Monday, 23 January 2023, at the Taguig Lakeshore Complex in Taguig City.
DENR was represented by Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning and Foreign Assisted and Special Projects and Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Marcial C. Amaro, Jr. He was accompanied by Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services, Engr. Ignacio R. Almira, Jr. and Production Forest Management Section (PFMS) Chief Arturo G. Calderon of DENR National Capital Region.
The Administrative Order provides guidelines for concerned national and local government agencies on the creation and promotion of parks and open spaces to help improve public physical, social and mental health.
According to ARD Almira, the regional office has long been a staunch and long-time advocate of public parks and spaces in Metro Manila. “DENR National Capital Region has been providing technical assistance to our 17 local governments here in Metro Manila, knowing full well the importance of urban green spaces not only to the health of the people but of the environment as well”, he said.
“We help LGUs identify, assess, and develop parks in their respective territorial jurisdictions, provide seedlings, and assistance on the care and maintenance of their urban green spaces”, Assistant Director Almira added. The regional office, under the leadership of Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan, has likewise been assisting the LGUs in formulating an integrated Climate Resilient and Urban Greening Plan.
This comes after studies showed that Metro Manila has only 5 square meters of green space available per person, a number well below the ideal 9 square meters set by the World Health Organization (WHO). “We need to increase the number of green spaces available for the more than 12 million residents of Metro Manila and make every city and municipality of the region healthy and climate-resilient”, Assistant Director Almira explained.
To date, DENR National Capital Region has helped the city governments of Malabon, Manila, Navotas, Pasig, Quezon, and Valenzuela in drafting their respective Climate Resilient and Urban Greening Plans. “With these plans intact and the Administrative Order the DENR has just signed with other government agencies, our dream of a healthy and climate resilient region is not far from realization”, Assistant Director Almira beamed.