In the Philippines, economic development is concentrated in areas such as Metro Manila and Cebu. For smaller cities, strengthened urban development is still needed in order to spread economic development across the country.

USAID hopes to help through the Urban Development Learning Program (UDLP). A USAID Cities Development Initiative flagship project, Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) aims to assist cities to “plan effectively , guarantee basic public services, reduce business transaction costs, promote competitiveness, support sustainable development, and reduce disaster and climate change risks while ensuring inclusive and sustainable growth.”

In a focus group discussion held at the USTP Boardroom on June 28, 2019, members from the academe, LGUs, NGAs, professional groups, and the business sector were invited to shed insight on the needs of the city and other localities in the province/region in relation to urban development. The FGD was organized in order to come up with context-tailored, needs-based modules for the planned executive program under the UDLP.

Caption: Dr. Ruth G. Cabahug emphasizes the role of the University in ensuring resilient urban development and planning.

“We in the academe have been urged to respond to climate change as it has significant implications not only to structures but more importantly to food and water security, as well as health and safety,” said Dr. Ruth G. Cabahug, USTP CDO Chancellor, during her welcome remarks. “As educational institutions, we have a big role to play in building the capacity of planners and designers in resilient urban development, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation. This is perhaps the bigger reason why we have been gathered today.”

The discussion started with a discussion on the regional perspective and the metropolitan Cagayan de Oro sustainable urban development with Ms. Al’Gemregy Cuerquez of NEDA 10. This was followed by an overview of the UDLP program, including the initial plans for the executive course, by Dr. Noelyn Dano, SURGE Resource Person.

Caption: Dr. Noelyn Dano, SURGE Resource Person, introduces the UDLP framework to participants and discusses the program’s initial steps.

“We are really wanting this executive program to be very much multidisciplinary and multidimensional,” said Dr. Dano. “Urban planning is multidimensional. It’s both an art and science, and so we wanted those to be captured through the courses that will be offered.”

Breakout sessions were held in the afternoon, where participants were tasked to discuss inside their focus groups the urban development gaps, knowledge, skills, content, approach and outcomes in relation to their sectors. Participants then presented their outputs in order to synthesize the views from each focus group.

Caption: A representative from one of the focus groups presents their output

Caption: The USTP CDO group works on their presentation.

Caption: Dr. Namoco presents the plan regarding the next steps to be taken in the formulation of an executive program in urban development.

Dr. Namoco ended the FGD with a discussion on the next steps to be taken, starting with the consolidation of the results of the FGD, identification of themes which will become the basis for the module subjects, gathering of course descriptions of existing courses in urban development, creation of module development team (MDT), coaching and mentoring for the MDT, presentation and validation of the modules to stakeholders, finalization of modules with partner universities, approval of the executive program by the USTP Board of Regents, networking with CHED, launching of the executive program, promotion of the executive program, and finally, offering the executive program on sustainable development and innovation.

These steps are expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2020.