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Metro mayors learn best practices on sustainability, environment protection from Dutch

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Several Metro Manila mayors led by San Juan City Mayor and Metro Manila Council (MMC) President Francis Zamora went to The Netherlands to learn about the best practices on sustainability and environmental protection.

Aside from Zamora, Mayor Joy Belmonte of Quezon City, Mayor Jeannie Sandoval of Malabon, Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano of Pasay, Mayor John Rey Tiangco of Navotas, Mayor Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa, Mayor Along Malapitan of Caloocan, Mayor Weslie Gatchalian of Valenzuela, Mayor Ike Ponce of Pateros, Vice Mayor Menchie Abalos of Mandaluyong, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Atty. Don Artes joined the program.

They met with Dutch officials and private entities spearheading sustainability programs and climate change-conscious initiatives as part of the MMC's efforts to implement these in the Philippines.

According to Zamora, the group first visited the Philippine Embassy in The Netherlands headed by Ambassador Ed Malaya.

The group also visited the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) in Rotterdam which is an international organization working as a solutions broker by engaging in innovative solutions to drive adaptation at scale, high-level policy development, new research contributions, advocacy, communications, and work with partners to deliver action on the ground.

Zamora said that the GCA taught the council its best practices in sustainable development and were also given a tour of its famous floating office with its environment-friendly characteristics.

The delegation also met with Rotterdam City Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb who had been given numerous commendations for his leadership skills and sustainability programs.

"Rotterdam City Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has been awarded as the 2021 World Mayor by the London-based thinktank City Mayors Foundation for ‘his commitment to treat all citizens as ‘Rotterdammers’, irrespective of their origins and backgrounds.’ Mayor Aboutaleb was the first Muslim mayor appointed in a major city in Western Europe since Mayors in the Netherlands are formally crown appointees. He is taking charge of Rotterdam, Europe's biggest port and multiracial melting pot," Zamora said.

Aboutaleb and other city officials shared with the council members how they are able to live with water through the construction of dikes and dams which prevent their city and other areas from being submerged in water given that a huge percentage of the Netherlands is below sea level.

The council members also went to AEB Amsterdam which is considered as the largest waste-to-energy single location plant in the world. It provides waste management services such as processing of residual waste, extracting valuable materials, and incineration.

They also visited the head office of Royal HaskoningDHV which develops sustainable water energy and partners with industries, advising, engineering and implementing smart solutions to reduce, reuse and recycle water, and recover resources and replenish water ecosystems. The group is also responsible for the construction of major dams and dikes in the Netherlands which protect their people from flooding.

With San Juan regarded as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and himself a cycling advocate, Zamora wasted no time in visiting Amsterdam's underwater bike parking facility which is built underneath a huge canal.

The mayor noted that the facility can accommodate close to 11,000 bikes which are strictly monitored to ensure their safety. This facility is also directly accessible to train stations which makes transportation more convenient for the Dutch people.

In March, Zamora, who is also the concurrent chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) of Metro Manila, flew to the United States to attend a series of meetings with US senators and congressmen at the US Capitol, and a training program that will help boost the RPOC's knowledge and skills.

He was joined by the Regional Peace and Order Council - Department of the Interior and Local Government (RPOC-DILG) in his meetings with US senators and congressmen at the US Capitol.

Zamora also attended training sessions with American think-tanks regarding public safety, homeland security, and peace and order.

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