Baguio, Philippines

Bringing the circular economy to Baguio City’s mobility system

About Baguio, Philippines

Baguio City is a landlocked, highly urbanized city located in the island of Luzon and within the highlands of the Cordillera Ranges. As to its land cover: 9.81% is declared as watershed and protected forest; 1.41% as parks and recreation areas; 11.04% are open spaces; and the rest are settlement areas. It serves as the gateway to other municipalities in the Cordillera Region. As the only highly urbanized city in the region, it has evolved to become the regional seat of government, a business and financial center, a tourism hub, an educational center, and home to one of the country’s most profitable Economic Zones. The Baguio City Economic Zone (BCEZ) caters to 44 locators which produce textiles, apparels, electronics, plastic products and others. Production output in the BCEZ accounts for the bulk of the Cordillera’s total exports. Baguio City is popular for its pine forests, rich cultural background, as well as for its temperate climate. It is referred to as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” and the “City of Pines.” It remains to be among the top 14 tourist destinations in the country, and is among the top 20 destinations for meetings, conventions and exhibitions.

Baguio's sustainability challenges

  • Climate change mitigation

    Baguio City is confronted with a new economic reality, one in which resource constraints and increasing impacts of climate change and natural disasters are influencing growth. Convergent economic and environmental challenges have had dramatic impacts on the community, hampering the City’s continued progress. The city will need to be more responsive to rising demand for food, housing, electricity, and water, as well as adopt strategies to mitigate the impact of adverse events.

  • Covid-19 consequences

    The COVID-19 crisis has negatively impacted sectors such as public utility vehicle operations, business activities, and employment. It also had a significant impact on low-income daily wage earners and indigent families.

    The crisis also put on spotlight long-standing socio-economic and environmental issues. In a 2019 urban carrying capacity study, the following sectors were highlighted as the challenge areas because their threshold carrying capacity had been breached already: road density, green cover, land for settlement, liquid waste, solid waste, forest cover, open spaces, and water supply.

  • Traffic congestion

    One of the most pressing urban challenges experienced now in the City is traffic congestion and vehicle volume increase resulting from increasing tourist arrivals and car modal share (CLUP-Baguio City, 2010-2020). The challenges in limiting the volume of vehicles on the road are further exacerbated by the inadequacy of infrastructure and services for public transportation and non-motorized transport, and travel demand management to effectively reduce private vehicle trips entering the city and within the city.

    Currently, private cars have the highest percentage of vehicle volume (but not necessarily carrying the most passenger volume) on Baguio City roads which put immense pressure on the city’s road carrying capacity. The high carbon emission coming from the transport sector contributes to GHG emissions and poses a health risk to the public. Increasing volume of vehicles also contribute to increasing pollution and urban heat in the city. While most residents opt for walking and public transport, many visitors tend to bring their own vehicles, further exacerbating the problem.

Baguio's existing sustainability commitments and targets

  • Low-carbon initiatives

    Low carbon initiatives are now about to be implemented citywide through the updating of the comprehensive land use, zoning, and transportation plans.  The city will now embark on an ambitious catalytic project that will transform its urban development framework by developing 6 growth development nodes around its peri-urban areas which will serve as transport and commercial hubs. Multi-modal mobility will now be implemented, which will allow green and blue redevelopment initiatives in the inner city area that will make it walkable and inclusive. Mass transportation through “modern jeepneys” and trams are being planned for implementation.  Bicycle lanes and road sharing are likewise given priority. The city has numerous rivers and creeks and these are being considered as another redevelopment space where they will become part of the micro-mobility and parks network.

  • Vehicle emissions reduction

    The city’s goal is to create a sustainable and enabling environment that will promote economic stability and ensure the general well-being of its citizens. For mobility, Baguio City has committed to reducing in-city vehicle GHG emissions by 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.

  • Public transport improvements

    The Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) for the city is already on its second and last reading at the City Council before its eventual approval.  The plan embodies the modernization of public transport where old vehicles that are at least 15-years old shall be decommissioned and exchanged for Euro 4-compliant or electric vehicles. The city is also one of the pilot cities for Low-Carbon Urban Transport with the UNDP which will test the viability of electric vehicles for mass transportation.

  • Smart mobility plan

    The city’s has partnered with private groups to prepare its smart mobility plan where it envisions a transportation system that promotes and encourages the use of alternative modes of travel, reducing dependencies on private automobiles, which will lead to a congestion-free and pedestrian-friendly city, increased community cohesion, and a more urban, vibrant, and sustainable city. Baguio aims to promote a balance on travel efficiency and quality of life, continued economic growth, and a healthy environment.