Baguio is first PH city under global S²Cities program; set to make city safer in partnership with youth

(in photo above, from left) Hon. Levy Lloyd Braza Orcales, Councilor of Baguio City; Jemi Santos, Project Officer of ICLEI Southeast Asia; Victorino Aquitania, Regional Director of ICLEI Southeast Asia; Hon. Benjamin Magalong, Mayor of Baguio City; Arch. Donna Tabangin, City Planning and Development Coordinator of Baguio City; Keidy Transfiguracion, Executive Directress of the Cordilleran Youth Center; and Micaela Rimando, Planning Officer of Baguio City during the ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the local implementation of the S²Cities program at the Baguio City Hall on 10 March 2023.

The City Government of Baguio and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability Southeast Asia (ICLEI SEA) in a ceremonial Memorandum of Understanding signing on 10 March 2023 in City Hall have officially begun activities for the local implementation of the youth-focused Safe and Sound Cities (S²Cities) program.

Baguio is the first city in the Philippines and the second city in Southeast Asia to officially be part of the S²Cities global network of program cities. It follows the pilot sites of Bandung, Indonesia and Envigado, Colombia.

“Baguio is honored to be part of the S²Cities program. We recognize the value of meaningfully involving and engaging our city’s youth in making it a safer place for all. Through the S²Cities program, we hope to make Baguio a good example of safe urban development and youth participation in city planning,” said Baguio City Mayor Hon. Benjamin Magalong.

S²Cities is a global program led by the Global Infrastructure Basel (GIB) Foundation, in partnership with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, hosted by the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, with the support of Fondation Botnar. It aims to improve young people’s safety and well-being in urban environments.

Program activities in Baguio will include a survey of urban safety, stakeholder consultations, workshops and capacity building activities, and ideation, designing, and implementation of safety solutions, among other youth-focused engagements.

Baguio’s youth make up over 75,000 or around 21% of the city’s over 360,000 citizens.

“It is important that the youth are meaningfully involved in shaping the communities and cities that they will be inheriting in the future. The S²Cities program is a platform that will empower them to use their unconventional thinking and fresh perspectives to transform their city in innovative ways. We look forward to working with the local government of Baguio and its youth to make the city a safe and sound city,” said ICLEI SEA Regional Director Victorino Aquitania.

ICLEI SEA is supporting selected cities in Southeast Asia do develop the capacities of local governments in engaging the youth to holistically address urban safety issues.

ICLEI SEA and Baguio have previously worked together in various sustainable development projects, including the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign; Sustainable Water Integrated Management and Governance; Preparatory research for LAB Asia initiatives Phases 1-3; AsianCitiesAdapt – Impacts of Climate Change in Target Cities in India and the Philippines and Local Adaptation Strategies; Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network; Circle Lab for Cities; and the One Planet City Challenge (OPCC).

For more information on the S²Cities program, please visit

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