CITYNET Secretary General Mary Jane Ortega Speaks on Localized Improvement and City-to-City Cooperation

CITYNET Secretary General Mary Jane Ortega

CITYNET Secretary General Mary Jane Ortega


Excerpt and translation from Kanagawa Newspaper (December 3, 2010) as part of their series on the new environmental era (in Japanese)

In 2009, two large typhoons struck the Philippines and caused a great deal of damage.  As the mayor of San Fernando La Union, I installed a drainage canal and vacuum tank at the advice of a World Bank consultant who said we can’t create a city without disaster, but if we are prepare, we can minimize the damage. In order to reduce the damage incurred from a disaster, we need appropriate city planning based on comprehensive research.

CITYNET shares these kinds of experiences and knowledge among member cities and organizations to create more resilient cities. We have undertaken several city-to-city cooperation projects amongst CITYNET member cities, utilizing Yokohama, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur as resource cities. Through these experiences, developing cities receive technical support on water resources, sanitation, solid waste management, transport, and urban safety.
We have also undertaken ‘south to south’ cooperation projects: that is cooperation between two developing cities.
Best practices are shared, and instead of just reading about such practices, it is best to learn through action, replication, and innovation based on the culture of each city.

Developing cities should not adopt lessons learned simply from best practices implemented by developed nations. They should decide what is viable for their cities and what is not. When I was in the United States in 1998, I visited one landfill where I was asked what kind of scent I preferred.  People at the landfill site opened a valve and suddenly from tubes all around the perimeter emerged the scent of cinnamon, they explained that they used this scent at lunchtime.  I was told that they use a lime or lemon scent at night.  When I returned home, I thought of planting 1,500 ylang-ylang trees  near the city’s landfill (ylang-ylang is native to the Philippines and has a fragrant and unique scent) . I believe it is crucial to ask what will work for your city specifically and put that into action.