Baguio City, PH starts transition towards a circular economy

(in photo above) ICLEI SEAS and Baguio City technical staff from the Planning, Environment, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Engineering, and General Service departments last 30 March 2022 during the Circular Economy Workshop.

According to the Circle Economy’s Circularity Gap Report, over 100-billion tonnes of materials are consumed annually in the world’s current “take-make-waste” linear economy, 90% of which is extracted and wasted while only 8.6% is recycled. This staggering consumption figure is linked to various negative city impacts, including rising carbon emissions, loss of biodiversity, and challenges in waste management. 

Transitioning to a more circular economy will allow cities to better tackle the negative impacts of climate change while also addressing critical social needs. 

Towards this goal, the ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability Southeast Asia Secretariat (ICLEI SEAS) last 30 March 2022 held a circular economy workshop for Baguio City in the Philippines. Held as part of the Circle Lab for Cities program, the workshop was attended by representatives from Baguio’s Planning, Environment, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Engineering, and General Service departments.

UNDERSTANDING CIRCULAR ECONOMY AT THE LOCAL LEVEL 

The workshop introduced the Circular City Actions Framework and the Ganbatte, a digital tool developed by Circle Economy and ICLEI that offers cities solutions to going circular and tracking their circular economy journey.

The Circular City Actions Framework is structured into five complementary circular strategies that relate to local government actions: Rethink, Regenerate, Reduce, Reuse, and Recover.

Ricardo Marfiga Jr., ICLEI SEAS Senior Project Officer, presented the Circular City Actions Framework to guide Baguio in its journey towards a more circular economy. The framework unpacks what the circular economy concept means at the local level and how cities can influence value chains through different interventions. It can be applied to all production, consumption, and waste management processes influenced by the city, local businesses, or residents. The Circular City Actions Framework is structured into five complementary circular strategies that relate to local government actions: Rethink, Regenerate, Reduce, Reuse, and Recover.

Mr. Marfiga also provided an overview of the features of the Ganbatte tool, including Circular Journey Assessment, Solutions Explorer, and City Baseline. These three features allow cities to understand where they stand on their circular development journey, see how they compare to similar cities, explore solutions from other cities, showcase their own solutions, and scan the baseline data of different thematic areas to determine which sectors to prioritize.

IDENTIFYING CIRCULAR ECONOMY ENTRY POINTS

Workshop participants listing existing and planned circular programs in Baguio City.

To visualize Baguio’s circular activities and see how it can transition to circularity, the participants were asked to list existing and planned circular programs and activities in the City; the key stakeholders; and the barriers to implementing circular actions. Some of the programs included were Smart Urban Mobility to promote alternative modes of travel; and Green and Blue Redevelopment to facilitate multimodal mobility in the mountaintop town.

Meanwhile, the city representatives noted that strengthening Baguio’s knowledge management system will further drive its circular journey forward and justify more resource allocation to circularity. While the city has been implementing circular economy-related projects, it has not been able to systematically document these efforts and better integrate them into action plans.

Taking into account its various sustainability efforts, stakeholders, and barriers, Baguio has selected Mobility Systems as its priority thematic sector in its circular development journey. Presently, traffic congestion and high vehicle volume—exacerbated by inadequate public transportation services and infrastructures—are two of the most pressing urban challenges experienced by Baguio and the largest contributors to its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In response, the city has already committed to reducing in-city vehicle GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 and has started implementing low emissions development initiatives and public transportation improvements, as well as developing its smart mobility plans.

Arch. Donna Tabangin, City Planning and Development Coordinator, presented Baguio City’s experience and initial results during the Circle Lab for Cities session at the ICLEI World Congress in Malmö, Sweden held last 11 – 13 May 2022.

The Circle Lab for Cities program supports cities worldwide to take the next step in their circular journey through online and offline tools that support circular development planning and implementation at the local level. Through the Circle Lab for Cities program, cities can explore circular solutions implemented by their peers, scan their urban metabolism, and act to advance their transition to a circular economy in priority sectors. The program is funded by the MAVA Foundation and implemented by Circle Economy, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Metabolic, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Other participating cities in the program are Quezon City in the Philippines, and Balikpapan City and Bogor City in Indonesia. Each of the city’s circular journeys will be compiled in a mini-roadmap relevant to their chosen priority thematic sector.

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