TODAY is International Earth Day around the world. In Bacolod, City Ordinance 404, which I authored in 2006, marks this day as Bacolod Earth Day. The quality of environmental governance in the city has deteriorated along with the state of our environment. Conservation efforts have always been like side advocacy for many leaders and not mainstreamed well into the system. But through the years, policy innovation has actively included conservation efforts. This was my frame of mind fifteen years ago when I became an insider to government aside from being an environmental advocate. It is a journey so difficult but so rewarding because as a policymaker, I have successfully legislated some ordinances which basically captured my aspiration and the aspiration of environmentalists and conservation leaders around the city and the province.
I attribute my accomplishments in environmental policies to the dynamism of the member organizations and individuals in the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Earth Day Network. One active environmentalist is my young friend Jun Jun Mojica – a silent worker whose influence and dedication in the environmental sector are both outstanding and inspiring. Since 2004, when I began my journey as city councilor, Jun Jun along with other young advocates has continuously guided me in tackling various environmental concerns for the city. It was difficult because I never had the chance to chair the Sangguniang Committee on Environment and had to be perceived as encroaching on some councilor’s committee all these years. Today, Jun Jun and I see more young environmentalists and dynamic environmental groups taking the cudgel. But the work will never be over as long as human greed exists.
I, therefore, encourage every Bacolodnon to stand up and demand. Use the Bacolod Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Ordinance and the Bacolod Watershed and Water Conservation Ordinance which were all approved during my time as councilor. Use those policies to demand execution and accountability.
Under our Climate Change Ordinance or City Ordinance 504 dated August 19, 2009, the City of Bacolod shall initiate support, undertake or encourage initiative on sustainable agriculture, forest resources and biodiversity conservation, ecological waste management, coastal resources management, disaster risk reduction, vulnerability and adaption assessment, gender and development for climate actions, sustainable energy development, and sustainable transportation.
Under Article 4 for energy conservation, the City of Bacolod shall encourage various programs geared towards mitigation and adaptation of the impacts of climate change. It shall come up with annual energy efficiency targets that particularly address the demand-side efficiency improvements, energy conversation, and use of energy-efficient technologies. There shall also be regular traffic improvement schemes, particularly geared toward the development and use of efficient mass transport systems, use and promotion of non-motorized transport modes and provisions of infrastructure such as “bike lanes” and “no-vehicles allowed areas,” emission control schemes focusing on improved fuel and vehicle efficiency, parking facilities development by public and private sector and improvement of road markings and signage, as well as, intersection control.
Under Section 3, Article 4, industries in Bacolod shall be encouraged to implement energy efficiency measures, promotion of energy conservation and use of alternative non-CO2 emitting industrial processes. The city shall encourage the use and development of renewable and alternative energy such as but not limited to solar, wind, biomass, and hydro.
Under Article 5, for health, Bacolod shall prioritize public sanitation (quality of water, land and air) particularly in relation to climate change’s direct and indirect effects on health. Bacolod shall actively disseminate information about increase in heat-related morbidity and mortality, particularly in response to episodes of stressful weather caused by absolute temperatures combined with other factors like humidity and wind velocity. The city shall publicize measures to combat heatwaves which are often exacerbated by high humidity and urban pollution would cause an increase in heat-related deaths and illness episodes affecting the elderly, sick and those without access to air-conditioning. The public shall be constantly informed about the health effects which arise from drinking contaminated water and susceptibility to infectious diseases, especially as more rainfall in certain areas and warmer temperatures overall are providing optimal conditions for mosquitoes-which spread the virus that cause dengue to breed and expand into new territories, and warning against non-vector borne disease such as cholera, diarrhea caused by salmonella, shigella, amoeba, rotavirus, which may also be more frequent when higher temperatures and higher humidity as well as waterborne and water-related disease.
Under Article 6 on environment and disaster management, the Environment and Natural Resources officer (Enro) of Bacolod shall actively conduct information dissemination to the various barangays on the effects of or destruction caused by climate upon beaches, reefs and coastal infrastructures on which this depends; and the importance of water conservation in order to address the threat of decreasing quantity and quality of drinking water due to climate changes. The city shall also ensure that barangays have preparatory measures in cases of calamities or enhancement of disaster management capacity in times extreme weather events and serious need for humanitarian assistance to victims of natural disasters.
Under Article 7 on agriculture and fisheries, the city shall promote research and extension work on climate change adaptation thru local research institutions, the academe and relevant stakeholders and engage in programs projects and activities particularly in land and water use land use change and forestry, reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, coastal zones and fisheries, industry facilities, farming practices, and indigenous clean energy.
The City Agriculture shall encourage the use of tubular polyethylene bio-digesters and urea-molasses mineral block as a nutrient supplement in animal production, use of sulfate fertilizers to reduce methane emission, use of rice straw, water management and low-emitting cultivars, upgrading of food storage and distribution systems and promotion and implementation of judicious land-use planning.
The city shall encourage, provide for resources and assist the integration of lessons about climate change and global warming in all educational institutions in the City of Bacolod. The city shall promote dialogues between workers and employers to realize the potential for green and decent jobs through positive support from workers and employers in the transition towards environmentally sustainable patterns of production and consumption. The Office of the Building Official shall disseminate information and encourage energy-efficient designs for new buildings.
Under Article 10, the city shall encourage greater participation of the local media, inter-faith groups and local schools in disseminating information on climate change adaption within the overall framework of sustainable development, to local communities at the grassroots level. The city shall vigorously collaborate with the provincial government and the Regional Development Council to push for more aggressive emission reduction targets and expeditious implementation of adaption programs, projects and activities that will ensure direct benefits to the local communities.
Under Article 12, the city shall encourage private sector participation and consult regularly with all the stakeholders in all strategies and plans for climate change.
The city shall establish the Bacolod Network on Climate Change (BNCC) shall be created to perform data gathering, monitoring and evaluation and advocacy and linkages. We are armed with policy. All we need is to demand.