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FEATURES | Victorias: Building (ecologically) sustainable communities

In 2012, the United Nations held a Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, with government and state members hammered out what they called as Sustainable Development Goals, as they come up with a political outcome document that pushes for measures to address pressing political, environmental, and political concerns.

The conference has seen the intricate relationship between policy-making, economy, and environment, and thus pushed for measures that would make development sustainable.

Sustainable.

The word has been pushed around, used by politicians, leaders, advocates to describe a world that is eating up resources faster than it can produce, leaving younger generations with, well, close to nothing (and pretty soon, really nothing).

Victorias Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca, and Councilor Derek Palanca have met up with non-profits to team up on the possibility of building sustainable communities. | Photo taken with permission from Victorias Malihaw

With scientists warning about the world getting warmer by the minute, and environmentalists pounding pavements to do the same, world leaders are now frantically coming up with Sustainable Goals one after another including, crucially, SDG 11, or Sustainable cities and communities.

A rising number in the world population (4.2 billion as of the last count) has led to denser and denser cities, and denser and denser cities have led to more carbon footprints, as energy emissions and consumptions increase.

Thus, cities from all over the world are now coming with their own localized versions of the SDG 11. 

Mayor Palanca studies the presentation on creating communities with partners billionBricks, and Habitat for Humanity. | Photo taken with permission from Victorias Malihaw

Enter Victorias.

Just recently, Victorias Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca, and Councilor Derek Palanca met with representatives from non-profits Habitat for Humanity, and Billion Bricks to design what could be the first sustainable solar community in the country.

And it is big, too, a project that could include 1,100 houses.

“It was initially just regular housing but I asked Habitat if it’s possible to solarize the homes,” Derek, who heads the housing and land resettlement committee, tells DNX.

When he brought up the idea if it was possible to solarize, somebody from Habitat reached out to BillionBricks, a non-profit design studio that has been empowering the homeless build their own homes.

A presentation by BillionBricks, a non-profit organization which aims to provide and design homes for the homeless. | Photo taken with permission from Victorias Malihaw

Local government has since been forging partnerships, pushing pencils to determine cost, and funding.

“We’re trying to check if other government institutions can help in funding it, such as [Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development],” he says.

Derek is right now in the thick of yet another green project, the high-tech sustainable greenhouses, with the intent to upgrade the standard greenhouses into something that is self-sustaining.

Derek implies with the right timing, the solarized community and the hi-tech greenhouses are not, by any means, the last of the projects.

“My advocacy has always been ‘innovation’ whether it be tangible or intangible,” he reveals, “Just new things: infrastructure, programs, sustainable cities and development.”

And with a forward looking mindset, sustainability might indeed not be such abstract concept after all.

Hannah A. Papasin
Hannah A. Papasinhttp://facebook.com/hannah.mariveles
Writer. Critic. Professor. She started writing since primary school and now has two published textbooks on communication. A film buff, she's a Communication, Media Literacy and Journalism Professor of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, and has a Master's Degree in English.

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