The fourth meeting of the Kitakyushu Initiative Network in June 2007 that was held in Kitakyushu, Japan highlights the unanimous declaration of all participating local governments from Asia and the Pacific region that solid waste management (SWM) remains the most pressing environmental concern for cities and municipalities today. Indeed, solid waste is a mounting problem in all rapidly urbanizing areas that characterize most of the region’s cities and municipalities. Increasing levels of waste generation, changing waste characteristics and financing appropriate technology for disposal have been a challenge to many local governments. Studies have also associated socio-cultural and economic factors to the changing trend of waste generation. It is therefore crucial to achieve a common platform for SWM that will encompass social, economic, technological, political and administrative dimensions in order to ensure a sustainable solution to urban waste.
In the Philippines, local government units (LGUs) play a key role in managing solid waste. Republic Act 9003 of 2000 (RA 9003) otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of the Philippines provides the basic policy framework on SWM in the country. It also highlights the pivotal and institutional role that LGUs play in the whole life cycle of SWM, that is, from segregation, collection, transportation, storage to disposal. The policy seeks to protect public health and the environment, the use of environmentally sound methods to maximize the utilization of valuable resources, set guidelines and targets for solid waste avoidance and volume reduction, and institutionalize public participation, among others. Greater sector participation is strongly encouraged that should bring all stakeholders including households, communities and all other sectors involved in the conduct of waste management at the local level.
Pursuant to RA 9003, many local SWM actions have been initiated since 2000. Bago City government in the province of Negros Occidental for one has developed pro-active strategies not only to address the magnitude of waste generated by the city but also to redirect the behavior of the people towards a new level of participation by promoting at-source segregation through the KABAHIN KA project. In 2007, through the support of Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment (KI) programme and the Asia Pacific Forum on Environment and Development (APFED) under the auspices of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), the KABAHIN KA project was expanded adding new components that promote socio-economic development at the grassroots level, thus, the project “Solid Waste Management as a Social Enterprise”. The project seeks to address the issues of poverty and low-level of environmental awareness by establishing a financially self-sustained community-based waste collection system and compost production. It adopted two successful SWM practices from Surabaya, Indonesia as best practice models for household composting and Nonthaburi, Thailand for waste banking. The programme has been running for more than a year with four major components namely (1) a mini-enterprise for household composting, (2) community waste banking, (3) environmental education and (4) project replication.
However, despite a good number of intention and some efforts, the implementation of RA 9003 still remains a challenge to many local governments in the Philippines. Current local SWM systems face numerous deficiencies including provision of suitable and sufficient waste treatment and disposal facilities, recycling and recovery initiatives, data analyses and collation and other waste management mechanisms that are needed in order to comply with the provisions of RA 9003. Governments are often constrained by their limited financial and administrative capacities to address waste management issues and fully implement the policy.
Understanding the need for strategic solutions and innovative approaches to help LGUs in the Philippines implement RA 9003, the KI programme in partnership with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental and the City Government of Bago, is organizing a 2-day conference-workshop in Natures Village Resort, Talisay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, this event is scheduled on 28-29 May 2009.
Entitled the “National Conference on Solid Waste Management: Bridging the Gap between Policy and Local Action” the main objective of this conference is to feature the achievements of Bago City’s project on “Solid Waste Management as a Social Enterprise” and a workshop which aims to help identify practical strategies and solutions to meet the challenges and constraints that many LGUs face in implementing RA 9003. Specific topics to be discussed during this 2-day event include:
Successful strategies adopted by Bago City for the central and community-based composting project;
Limiting factors , lessons learned and recommendation to other cities (for replication)
Long-term SWM plan;
Identify innovative strategies (local initiatives) for promoting at-source waste segregation, improving environmental awareness, public participation, capacity building and resource mobilization;
Technological and financial options for the development of final disposal facilities.