CITY Planning and Development Coordinator Arch. Donna Tabangin revealed in a public consultation a study by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) that the city is projected to see exponential population growth in the coming years even as Baguio continues to exceed its environmental carrying capacity.
Tabangin revealed that the NEDA study projected that the resident population of Baguio City will exceed 600,000 by 2043, not counting the daytime tourist population which prior to the pandemic had the city reach more than 1.5 million concurrent population.
However, the city had exceeded the prescribed standards for individuals’ lands for development, water supply, open spaces, green and forest covers, as well as liquid and solid waste output and treatment at various points in the past decades up to 2016.
Under the standards set by the United Nations, an individual is entitled to have 110 square meters of land for settlement or development and 0.15 cubic meters of water supply per day, with 20 square meters of open space, 40 square meters of urban road, 80 square meters of green cover and 40 square meters of forest cover.
However, the growing population of the city has long since exceeded the point where such standards could be met.
At the same time, the city has exceeded the prescribed threshold for solid and liquid waste output per individual as early as 1994, and the city’s garbage output continues to increase.
“This is our inconvenient truth. We are exceeding our environmental capacity. But it is not too late for us to act and put into place mitigating measures. As we co-create and co-plan our path towards resiliency and recovery, we jump off from our experience with the pandemic and at the same time look into solving environmental problems and the errors of urban planning,” Tabangin said.
Tabangin said that to help address the environmental issues that the city is facing, the local government is looking toward ways to both address and take advantage of the city’s waste production by implementing the city’s sought-after waste-to-energy power project.
The push for waste-to-energy is but one facet of the city’s “recovery and resiliency plan,” which includes health, economy, environment, transport, and socio-cultural projects to address the city’s various concerns, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.