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Frequently Asked Questions about Environmental Planning in the Philippines

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What do you want to know about environmental planning?

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

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

FAQs on Environmental Planning in the Philippines

Introduction

Environmental planning is a discipline that is inevitably essential.

Many actors and sectors in our society will be involved in the recovery and planning of local territories.

This is especially true with the way the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly stalled the global economy. The recovery towards the new normal must be sustainable.

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

People from private planning firms, transport advocacy groups, and commuter organizations are interviewed in various media channels.

They help the ordinary citizen make sense of how the country can rehabilitate with “no one left behind.”

Arch. Paulo Alcazaren on greening Metro Manila

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

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Why is environmental planning in the Philippines so important?

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

120 million hectares of the world's natural habitat will be converted to farmland by 2050. World Wildlife Fund.
120 million hectares of the world’s natural habitat will be converted to farmland by 2050. World Wildlife Fund.

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 various 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

Environmental planners should be capable of guiding local chief executives in devolved responsibilities towards local autonomy.

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?

Become a Filipino Environmental Planner!

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

Over the past 10 years, an average of 51% of takers of the Environmental Planning Board Exam passed (including me in 2018!).

The number of takers of the Environmental Planning Board Exam  has greatly increased over the last five years, likely because of the enactment of Republic Act 10587.

EnP board exam (2007-2019)
The number of takers of the Environmental Planning Board Exam  has greatly increased over the last five years.

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

  1. Satisfy the academic requirements and gain work experience to apply for the Environmental Planning Board Exam.
  2. Pass the Environmental Planning Board Exam
  3. Register with the Professional Regulatory Commission 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.

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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

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

Environmental planners deal with a wide array of sectors.

In this role, the environmental planner is the mediator for the compromises among stakeholders. 

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

Saving earth and satisfying human wants are mutually exclusive.
Saving earth and satisfying human wants are mutually exclusive.

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.

The LPDO 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.

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Read: 4 Urban Planning Themes from the book Happy City!

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.

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

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Environmental planners are raising their capabilities and reach.

We are trying to go beyond the “obsolete urban planning” that is plaguing the country. A good start would be to redesign EDSA.

Environmental planners are also working with disadvantaged local government units.

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

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 have been unnecessarily burdened with completing more than 30 separate sectoral and thematic plans.

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.

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

In private practice, environmental planners face issues about integrity.

This is especially true 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 political support.

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 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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