Launching a New CityLinks Partnership

Legazpi City, Philippines, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are addressing climate change challenges in the face of urban development.

ARTICLE | Jun 25, 2014
Undeterred by rain, the Legazpi delegation visits the South Florida Water Management District’s S-9 Water Pump Station at the Everglades Holiday Park in Pembroke Pines.

Under the ICMA CityLinks™ program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the cities of Legazpi, Philippines, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, have launched a partnership to exchange information, ideas, and strategies to address climate change challenges in the face of urban development.

From June 16- 23, a delegation of four local and national government professionals from Legazpi spent a week in Southeast Florida, learning how Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach County, and Broward County are addressing urban climate-related challenges. Their visit included tours and discussions with administrators and staff of local water treatment and water management facilities, with a focus on stormwater and wastewater management, and ecosystem-based public works systems including local wetlands and natural drainage areas. Because disaster risk management is a major focus in Legazpi, the delegation also visited Broward County’s emergency operations center and the National Hurricane Center, where they learned about storm surge modeling and early warning systems.

During the visit, the Fort Lauderdale city commission also issued a proclamation declaring the week of the visit as “The City of Legazpi Adaptation Days . . . in recognition of exchanging information on this emerging field of climate adaptation where ideas on a global scale can help refine solutions on the local level.” The proclamation recognized Fort Lauderdale’s intention to provide assistance in hazards planning, vulnerability assessment, planning, and public engagement.

Legazpi City Delegation

Raul Rosal, City Councilor, Legazpi City, and chair or past chair of committees on public utilities; finance and appropriations; education, arts, and culture; and public order and safety

Gilbert Gonzalez, Regional Executive Director, Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Joseph Esplana, Legazpi City Planning and Development Coordinator

Cedric Daep, Department Head, Albay (Province) Public Safety and Emergency Management Office and Executive Director of a provincial Climate Change Academy

The delegation then traveled to Washington, D.C., to recap the activities from their exchange in Fort Lauderdale as well as to meet international development professionals in the climate change field.

The recent exchange is the latest step in the ASEAN Cities Climate Change Project. The partnership began in August 2013, when Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman participated in a Climate Leadership Academy on Urban Adaptation co-hosted by CityLinks and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta, Indonesia, for eight participating Southeast Asian city teams. The event focused on managing the social, political, environmental, and financial risks of climate change. At the end of the event, participating cities identified local actions that they would take to address these risks and followed up with formal action plans.

Six months after the successful workshop in Jakarta, the CityLinks team conducted a survey to follow up on progress on the action plans. In collaboration with ASEAN and USAID, the CityLinks team then selected Legazpi as one of two ASEAN cities for city-to-city exchanges, based on the survey results and a set of established criteria.

Fort Lauderdale was then selected as the U.S. partner based on the city’s climate adaptation expertise and its similarity to Legazpi in topography, climate, and infrastructure risks. In addition, Fort Lauderdale has been a leader in integrating climate data into local and regional planning, community outreach strategies, restoration of urban ecosystems, and proven governance models that have “mainstreamed” adaptation measures throughout the city.

The CityLinks team and representatives from Fort Lauderdale visited Legazpi in April 2014 to help inform and design the June exchange. Based on the visit to Fort Lauderdale, the Legazpi delegation outlined their proposed next steps, including improvements in local building and environment/sanitation codes and more formal risk reduction protocols and preparation for flood management and sea level rise. Upon their return, they will present their proposals to the mayor and identify a specific priority or project to undertake jointly with Fort Lauderdale in the CityLinks partnership.

Through CityLinks, cities in developing and transitioning countries can draw on the resources of U.S. local governments to develop sustainable solutions tailored to the real needs of their communities. The current CityLinks program focuses on urban climate change mitigation and adaptation, food security, and water and sanitation access.


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