By Chino S. Leyco
The Philippines and the Netherlands signed yesterday a memorandum of understanding (MOU) sealing the cooperation of the two countries on the sustainable development and management of the Manila Bay area.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia and Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines Marion Derckx signed the MOU in a ceremony held at the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) headquarters.
Under the MOU, the two governments will work together towards the formulation of the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan (MBSDMP), which aims to provide a comprehensive framework for the sustainable development and management of the entire Manila Bay area.
The Master Plan is envisioned to guide future decisions on programs and projects to be undertaken within the Bay area.
“We are fortunate to have the Dutch with us in this endeavor. Their extensive knowledge and experience in implementing programs and projects that protect vulnerable coastal zones are unparalleled,” Pernia said in his keynote speech.
Living at or below sea level, the Dutch are known for their integrated and innovative solutions in coastal management that mimic natural systems instead of working against them.
The preliminary activities for the master planning exercise began in 2015 when the Philippine government requested the Netherlands government to dispatch a group of Dutch Disaster Risk Reduction experts to Manila to conduct a scoping mission.
The mission aimed at identifying and assessing the current situation in the Manila Bay area and afterwards recommend measures for its sustainable development.
After the mission, the Dutch experts confirmed the urgent need for a framework for the development and management of the Bay area.
These findings prompted the Philippine government to appropriate P250 million under the FY2017 NEDA budget for the formulation of the Master Plan.