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Frequently Asked Questions about Environmental Planning in the Philippines

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Introduction

As the world strives through the post-pandemic future, environmental planning is a discipline that will inevitably become essential to political leaders.

Many actors and sectors in our society will be involved in the recovery and planning of local territories after a pandemic of great magnitude stalled the global economy.

In the Philippines, environmental planning is emerging as a household term, though more often called by the larger-scale concept urban planning.

The emergence is because of the worsening conditions of daily commute, land use conflicts, and pollution. Climate change also threatens inevitable impacts. to all aspects of human life.

Read: 4 Urban Planning Themes from the book “Happy City”

People from private planning firms, transport advocacy groups, and commuter organizations are interviewed in various media channels to make sense of how the country can rehabilitate with “no one left behind.”

The recovery towards the new normal must be sustainable. It should not result to increasing rates of greenhouse gas emissions and rapid land conversions – two prominent global environmental issues, even pre-COVID19.

LIST: COVID-19 and Urban Planning

In this article, I focus on the frequently asked questions about environmental planning in the Philippines.

Most of these questions are according to the “People Also Ask” results of Google Search.

I also added some questions friends and family members have asked me.

In answering these questions, I hope to further the recognition of environmental planning as a discipline essential for sustainable development of Filipino society.

I also hope these answers encourage millennials, Gen Z and the newly-termed Gen C to consider environmental planning as a career choice.

I also invite you to add your own #EnPFAQ in the comments!

Become a Filipino Environmental Planner!

What is environmental planning in the Philippines?

Environmental planning in the Philippines is defined,

as the multi-disciplinary art and science of. analyzing, specifying, clarifying, harmonizing, managing and regulating the use and development of land and water resources, in relation to their environs, for the development of sustainable communities and ecosystems

Republic Act 10587

In the Philippines, environmental planning is treated synonymous with the following disciplines.

  • Urban and regional planning
  • City planning
  • Town and country planning
  • Human settlements planning

Why is environmental planning in the Philippines so important?

Environmental planning is essential because limited resources are available for our growing and varied demands.

Different sectors of society have different needs for land and water.

Environmental planners can lead the balance of use and care for forests, seas, cities, and other assets.

Balancing the demands of different users of the environment is also embedded in the structure of government and policy.

In the Philippines, the bias of the Constitution is towards local government planning.

The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy.

SECTION 2. Article X. 1987 Philippine Constitution

This emphasis on the accountability of the local government requires capable environmental planners to guide local chief executives in exercising their powers and fulfilling their responsibilities. 

As an art, a science, and an advocacy, the environmental planning profession must satisfy the demands of different sectors of society with limited resources.  

Watch: 15 Youtube Videos You Need to Watch to Increase Your Environmental Planning Knowledge (UPDATED!)

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How can I become an environmental planner in the Philippines?

The environmental planning profession is regulated by the Board of Environmental Planning of the Professional Regulatory Commission.

#FactFriday Over the past 10 years, an average of 51% of takers of the Environmental Planning Board Exam passed…

Posted by EnP Marion Micah Tinio on Thursday, June 4, 2020

To become a registered and licensed environmental planner, the following general steps must be taken:

  1. Obtain an urban planning degree and/or gain work experience to apply for the Environmental Planning Board Exam.
  2. Pass the Environmental Planning Board Exam
  3. Register with the PRC and the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners.
  4. If going freelance, register as a professional taxpayer and/or as a business taxpayer.
  5. Continue professional development.

Starting with the 2020 Environmental Planning Board Exam, only holders of environmental planning degrees can take the board exam.

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What skills and competencies do environmental planners need?

The Professional Regulatory Commission has produced a primer that lists the following skills and competencies for environmental planners.

Basic skills

Understanding of concepts and principles

  • Basic elements and classification of the environment
  • History/theories/principles of Environmental Planning
  • Urban/regional issues/problems
  • Planning processes
  • Government programs/political decisions
  • Legal/administrative aspects
  • Interaction among various sectors in Environmental Planning

Increase your urban planning knowledge by following these sites!

My addendum

I would add that environmental planners must possess good listening skills and negotiation skills.

This is especially true for environmental planners working in the local government.

Good environmental planners organize spaces. Great environmental planners develop places.
Good environmental planners organize spaces. Great environmental planners develop places.

Read: What You Need to Know about the Philippines Environmental Planning (EnP) Board Exam

Environmental planners deal with a wide array of sectors.

In this role, the environmental planner is the mediator for the compromises among stakeholders. EnP Jed Abaya uses the word “juggler.”

What is the role of environmental planners?

In broad terms, environmental planners ensure that our use and management of the environment is sustainable.

Sustainable use of resources ensures that future generations are not disadvantaged by present generations.

Read: 7 Essentials of Sustainable Cities

Planning-related positions in the local government are mandated by Republic Act 10587 to be filled only by environmental planners.

A key example of such position is the Local Planning and Development Officer, who is often accountable in leading the planning processes of the local government unit.

In private practice, environmental planners are often involved in ensuring the compliance of companies and projects with environmental laws.

Environmental impact assessments are required for obtaining regulatory permits from government agencies and local government units.

Environmental planners also create online platforms to initiate crowdsourcing projects for marginalized sectors and less prioritized issues.

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Who are notable environmental planners in the Philippines?

A quick Google search results to names including,

  • Arch/EnP. Felino “Jun” Palafox
  • LArch./EnP. Paulo Alcazaren
  • EnP. Ragene Palma.

They write consistently about issues in environmental planning in various media.

They are also included in my personal list of inspiring environmental planners.

Receive articles on urban planning and solid waste management!

What are environmental planners doing to support climate change adaptation and mitigation in the Philippines?

As the “defining issue of our time”, climate change is an urgent concern for all, but especially for environmental planners.

Filipino environmental planners are tasked with adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change to a country at high risk.  

Environmental planners are raising their capabilities and reach beyond the “obsolete urban planning” that is plaguing the country.

They do this through working with disadvantaged local government units.

They help communities cope with climate changes despite administrative challenges of the local territory.

Read: What if the Philippines responds to climate change like how we responded to COVID-19?

Some of us are deeply involved in advocacies for sustainable urban and transport development.

Read: 3 Ways How Safe Land Transportation Promotes Sustainable Cities

What are the key issues in environmental planning in the Philippines, especially in relation to pandemic recovery?

Local government planners, including environmental planners, have been unnecessarily burdened with completing more than 30 separate sectoral and thematic plans for various national government agencies.

The 33 sectoral and thematic plans required from local government units, mandated/prescribed by national government agencies (NGA). DILG 2017.
The 33 sectoral and thematic plans required from local government units, mandated/prescribed by national government agencies (NGA). DILG 2017.

Understaffed and overworked, local government planners often lack the capability and resources to update the comprehensive plans mandated by the Local Government Code.

In private practice, environmental planners face issues about integrity in assessing the environmental compliance of critical projects.

One recent controversy is the “illegal and immoral” issuance of environmental compliance certificate to the Kaliwa Dam.

Several organizations that work with disadvantaged communities also have difficulty gaining support from political leaders in terms of counterpart funding and resources.

Role of Environmental Planners in Post-Covid19 recovery
Role of Environmental Planners in Post-Covid19 recovery. My take on World Environment Day #ForNature.

Some Local Chief Executives are either indifferent to proper local government planning or heavily prioritize political motivations.

Plantilla local officials are also prone to politicizing the planning process.

These officials will withhold data and information because the current Local Chief Executive or other planning-related officials belongs to the opposition.

Waste management, my professional interest, is also a challenging issue as the new normal involves food delivery and mask-wearing.

Interested in solid waste management planning?

Add your frequently asked question about environmental planning!

Did I miss your #EnPFAQ?

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