Cities of the future must be masterplanned today

Eye-openers for city dwellers at the ULI Young Leaders 'Lunch & Learn'


At the Urban Land Institute “Lunch & Learn” session last July 11 at the Regus offices of the Enterprise Center in Makati City, discussions centered around the rapid increase of the Philippine population, and its seemingly unstoppable migration towards the urban and metropolitan centers.

Karima Patricia V. Palafox, Senior Urban Planner and Partner of Palafox Associates, revealed to attendees that every hour, 60 more people are added to Metro Manila's population (one person every minute), making it the world's fastest growing city.

It's a phenomenon that is not unique to the Philippines. “Everyday, around 200,000 people are added to the world's urban areas,” she said. Palafox estimated that by the year 2040, there would already be nearly 142 million people living in the Philippines, and with the worldwide trend that predicts 75% of the world's population living in the cities by 2050, imagine over 106 million Filipinos squeezing themselves into the 12 identified metropolitan centers of the country such as Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Davao. “Such numbers would really put a strain on the carrying capacity of these cities,” Palafox observed.

That is where the necessity of urban planning must come in. And it's not just the responsibility of the national and local governments. “In urban planning, the partnership is led ideally by the government, with the private sector and all of us stakeholders playing key roles in this endeavor,” Palafox explained.

She added: “Urban planning, especially if it is to be sustainable, must be multidisciplinary. It involves architects, engineers, economists, lawyers, sociologists. Urban planning ultimately aims to achieve balance. It's about providing the population's needs today, but making sure that it doesn't compromise the needs of the future.”

To illustrate her point, Palafox then shared numerous examples of sustainable urban masterplanning projects and developments that have been undertaken by Palafox Associates in its 25 years of existence. The common thread that ran in the over 1,000 projects it had successfully undertaken here and abroad has been its thrust for green urbanism.

“The concept of green urbanism revolves around forming sustainable, environment-friendly solutions to transport tbe benefits of suburban life or countryside living into the cities, and in turn transporting the convenience of city-living into the countryside,” Palafox stressed. She added that the use of open spaces offers opportunities toward making that concept a reality.

“Ideally, green urbanism means planning for a community that gives 60% for built structures, and the remaining 40% are devoted to open spaces for roads, utilities and parks.”

Unfortunately, much of the country's urban communities haven't had the benefit of a sustainable masterplan.

“Every city needs a plan,” stressed Palafox. She said, however, that 30% of the country's 1,600 towns and cities have never undergone any planning.

“Ever since urban planning became a profession, there are have been only 800 registered planners, half of them are abroad. There are only about roughly 400 of us here. We need your help so that urban planning, especially green urbanism, as an advocacy is pushed by all of us,” she urged the attendees.

The “Lunch & Learn” session was organized by the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit research and educational organization that provides leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. ULI was founded in 1936 in Washington, DC. It now counts over 30,000 members representing the whole spectrum of real estate developments, from consultants, urban planners, developers, to government officials.

The Young Leaders Group of ULI is composed of members under the age of 35. These ULI young leaders are provided opportunities, via four regular ULI activities, for them to meet recognized industry leaders and build on their awareness, skills, and strengths as responsible land use advocates. These four activities are: 1) The “Lunch & Learn” sessions where industry stalwarts, such as Palafox Associates, share their expertise, vision and mission; 2) Networking events where ULI members meet fellow members and other industry players; 3) Property tours such as visits to green buildings (ULI, in fact, will be conducting a walking tour of the Ateneo de Manila campus on July ----- to show to members the school's actual accomplishments toward sustainability, and on July ----- a tour of the Net Lima Building in Bonifacio Global City, the first building certified by the Berde green rating system), and; 4) The mentorship program wherein a senior ULI member shares his or her expertise with young leaders.

ULI Philippines is now on its third year, and is chaired by Charlie Rufino of the Net Group. The ULI Philippines Young Leaders Group is headed by Mikko Barranda, Markets Assistant Manager for Jones Lang LaSalle Philippines Inc. For more information on ULI, log on to <> or to <>


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Photo by Mikko Barranda