Pilipino Success Make Splash in Stockholm

Philippine Ambassador to Sweden Maria Zeneida Angara Collinson said the Philippines was given its largest and most prominent role so far in the World Water Week 2011 in Stockholm.

Eleven Philippine participants revealed success stories in water management to an international audience at the event held recently.

This year’s theme, Water in an Urbanizing World, brought water-related issues faced by cities into focus.

In the plenary session, former San Fernando, La Union mayor Mary Jane Ortega joined the Mayors’ Panel as the Secretary-General of Citynet, an Asia-Pacific regional network of local authorities.

Stockholm Mayor Sten Nordin and seven other mayors from Brazil, China, France, India, Rwanda, Spain and the United States also joined the panel.

Mayor Ortega described how she commissioned a hydro-geological study to determine water supply and scarcity in San Fernando.

With the help of local non-governmental organizations and international aid agencies, she then went on an ambitious campaign to pilot ecological sanitation and to address solid waste through an engineered landfill.

At the mayor’s reception at Stockholm City Hall, organizer Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) chose Mayor Ortega to thank the city of Stockholm for co-hosting the event, on behalf of all the participants.

The Philippines also received praise for local projects such as the “Localized Customer Service Code for Small Scale Water Service Providers in the Philippines” presented by Director Vicente Paragas of the National Water Regulatory Board, the “Conserving Bohol’s Underground Water Sources” presented by Jovencia Ganub of the Provincial Government of Bohol and “The Use of Geographic Information System as a Tool in Improving the Quality of Life through Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Community-Based Monitoring System”  presented by Emma Ulep of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. Public-private sector partnerships were also highlighted.

“Accelerating Wastewater Services in Mega Manila: Partnership in Action” presented by Chairman of the Board Ramon Alikpala of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and “Turning risks into opportunities: The Manila water approach” presented by  Chief Financial Officer Luis Juan Oreta of  Manila Water showed innovations worthy of emulation by other water operators.

Filipino NGOs also made a splash in demonstrating their projects.

“Providing Pro Poor Water Services in Urban Areas through Multi Partnership: The Streams of Knowledge Experience” was presented by Ms Yolanda Gomez and “Knowledge and Capacity Development in Water, Sanitation and Environmental Management” was presented by Mr. Dan Lapid of the Center for Advanced Philippine Studies.

Water links, a regional partnership network Founded by Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Water Association, and United States Agency for International Development in 2008 to promote Water Operator Partnerships in Asia, showed promising linkages.

Iloilo City worked with the Municipal Development Committee of Phnom Penh in Cambodia to pretest a USAID-developed toolkit, which guides water services professionals in developing promotion programs.

Water Links presenter Atty. Mai Flor also flagged Maynilad’s readiness to scale up wastewater services.

The increased Philippine participation at the World Water Week was in large part due to representations made by the Philippine Embassy in Stockholm with conference organizer SIWI.

Next year’s theme, Water and Global Food Security, is expected to attract more participation and enrich the global discourse on water and climate change. It is hoped that the Philippines will once again figure prominently on the world water map.

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